By Arial Starks
Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy (MAcc) graduates typically jumpstart their careers working in public accounting at one of the Big 4 accounting firms: PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. Once alums have spent a few years working for the Big 4, they are then able to take the transferable skills they gained during their time with the firms and work in a diverse range of professions. We caught up with Jarrod Rickman (MAcc’16) to see where his career has taken him since leaving Owen.
The Journey to Vanderbilt MAcc
MAcc alumnus Jarrod Rickman was in his junior year of undergrad at one of Vanderbilt’s MAcc Alliance schools, Furman University, when his interest in pursuing a MAcc program was first piqued. He heard a presentation on the program, presented by Emily O’Dell, Director, Vanderbilt MAcc Programs, and discovered he could further his education and earn a business school degree in just one year.
“Before Emily’s visit, I didn’t even know a MAcc program existed, honestly,” Rickman explained. “But, ironically, I had always had aspirations to go to graduate school, and there was always something about Vanderbilt University that I was attracted to.”
During his senior year, Rickman decided the Vanderbilt MAcc was his next move and began the application process. He was accepted into the program and began in the fall of 2015.
Throughout his journey at Owen, Rickman says he gained so many skills that prepared him for his career at the Big 4 and beyond.
“The various courses that I took at Owen – a lot of those concepts, I saw again,” he said. “So, when I started my job, it wasn’t like someone was just speaking a different language to me. It creates a sense of familiarity and I believe with the pace at which you’re learning, it teaches you how to work hard, especially with the way we did the CPA Exam.”
Speaking the Language of Business
During his time in the MAcc program, Rickman was recruited for an internship at EY’s Nashville office, which later turned into a full-time job offer as an Assurance Associate.
“The most valuable component of Owen for me really was the internship,” Rickman said. “Coordinating that internship during the busy season was so much better than had we done it during the summer. In the audit world, the work that you do during the busy season is a lot different and there’s a lot more to do, so you get that exposure and learn to apply the concepts you’re learning in class before graduation.”
The MAcc alumnus spent nearly 2 years with the firm, dedicating most of his time working with healthcare clients on the audit side of the business.
“During my time at EY, I got a little bit of exposure to the acquisition side of the business and just seeing those ins and outs was really interesting to me,” Rickman said. “My plan was to stay at EY for a few years to see if I liked it and then, if not, I would think about doing something else like consulting.”
Sooner than he expected to make a change in his career, Rickman received an email from a recruiter at Alvarez and Marsal about a job opportunity. After a few calls with the recruiter and becoming acquainted with some people working at the Alvarez & Marsal Nashville office, Rickman interviewed with the company and was hired on as a Transaction Advisory Senior Associate in July 2018.
“What I liked about it (the role) was it was taking all of the things I was most interested in from my audit experience, and I would be able to hone in on that and expand the knowledge and skills I had already started building around those areas,” Rickman shared.
Path to the Promotion
Rickman has been promoted twice since working for Alvarez & Marsal: he moved up to Transaction Advisory Senior Associate in November 2021, and most recently to Transaction Advisory Manager in November 2022.
In his current role, Rickman wears many hats. He says he is learning so much having his hands in so many different parts of the process.
“A large part of my role is steering the ship,” Rickman said. “I have a few people under me and I coordinate with them to get the raw financial data from our client and we put together a very detailed monthly analysis that I provide oversight for. In addition to that, I am leading the day-to-day communication with our client, giving them updates on how the process is going, and keeping in communication with the management team and investment bankers.”
Rickman being promoted to Manager has been his most challenging, yet rewarding position he has held in his career thus far.
“You’re doing a lot of things, you’re always learning something new on every project, and you’re helping younger team members grow—which is the most rewarding part of being in this role. It’s really enjoyable to be in a position where I get to pass down knowledge based on my experience.”
Stay tuned for more in our Vanderbilt MAcc Alumni series.