Our Stories

Moving His Goalposts

Soccer player switches career path to valuation

Michael Gandier
Manager M&A Strategy and Transactions, EY

Vanderbilt MAcc Valuation 2015

Growing up, Michael Gandier set a goal for himself: play professional soccer. “Up until my junior year of college,” he says, “I always had thought this would be my first career.”

So, while playing on the soccer team at Furman, where he earned a degree in business, he didn’t pursue any actual business experience. Instead, he spent the summers training for the upcoming season.

Near the end of his junior year, Michael realized he simply lacked the level of skill to begin his planned athletic career at any level above soccer’s low-paying minor leagues. So he decided to work on his business skills instead, and build on his interest in “the quantitative aspect of finance and accounting.”

During his research, he says, “I came across the MAcc Valuation program at Vanderbilt and thought it aligned with my interests.” And he already had a connection to the field. His father, a partner with EY, based in Saudi Arabia — Michael lived 12 years in Riyadh — was able to help him understand what a career as a valuation specialist could entail.

After two challenging mods of coursework, during which time he also studied for the Level I CFA exam, Michael and three of his MAcc Val classmates spent 10 weeks as valuation interns in New York City. After graduation, he’ll be returning, this time to join Deloitte.

Ten years from now, he says, “I hope to be as much an expert in valuation as possible.” But he still hasn’t given up on soccer. “I’m hoping my career will be connected to the sport in some way. Perhaps I can have a role in helping companies and investment firms value and acquire teams globally.”

Fun Fact: Michael was born in Dubai and spent 12 years of his youth in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“The technical and soft skills that I learned at Owen gave me opportunities that I didn’t even dream of before.”