Our Stories

Looking for Paths to Leadership

In MAcc, Sarah Felmly recognized opportunities with a wide variety of options

Sarah Felmly
Core Assurance Associate, PwC, McLean, VA

Vanderbilt MAcc 2016

By the time she graduated from Furman, Sarah Felmly already had a resumé of experience that would be the envy of many aspiring businesspeople. As an intern, she had conducted policy research for South Carolina Governor Nikky Haley. In Belgium, she had worked for a member of the European Parliament. In yet another internship, she had worked in M&A and private equity analysis for an investment bank. And she had studied abroad in China and Turkey.

Sarah also had developed a good sense of her career aspiration: “to manage a team and solve complex issues, and to take on projects that are intricate or convoluted and make them easier for others to communicate and understand.” She knew that public accounting firms provide excellent opportunities to grow into leadership, both within the firm and in a variety of industries.

Sarah, a self-described “news junkie,” also recognized a major barrier to her goals: “I hated hitting walls in comprehension when attempting to read a 10K report or financial news. Accounting isn’t numbers on a page; it’s a story that reveals what has happened in a company and what may come. Being able to translate, interpret and provide assurance to this information are skills I wanted to learn and hone.”

To bridge that knowledge gap, Sarah turned to the Vanderbilt MAcc — and not just because it is among the “few accounting graduate programs in the country that accept students without accounting undergraduate majors.” Among this small group, she says, “Vanderbilt’s recruiting placement to Big Four accounting firms is unparalleled. And the rare opportunity to intern during the winter month’s audit busy season, as opposed to a more traditional summer internship, allows us to maximize the time spent away from school and begin our careers with a leg up on our peers.”

On top of the says, the program offered her other advantages: “The Owen experience is fun, social, challenging and supportive — and you get to live in Nashville.”



Fun Fact: Sarah loves art history, Belgian beer, and can solve a Rubik’s cube.

“Accounting isn’t numbers on a page; it’s a story that reveals what has happened in a company and what may come.”