Our Stories

Finding His Business Niche

Martin shifts from Über driver to learning business drivers

Thomas "Gray" Martin
Assurance Staff, EY FSO, New York, NY

Vanderbilt MAcc 2018

After earning his college degree in 2015, Gray Martin worked at five different jobs over the next two years (not counting his time as an Über driver). None of them took him toward the kind of career he wanted. “I have a love for business,” he says, “but I needed a niche in which to grow and thrive.”

Gray concluded that his preferred path involved becoming a CPA, especially after he learned about the MAcc program at Vanderbilt. He cites an observation by [Program Director] Karl Hackenbrack: “A Master of Accountancy is so much more than accounting,” then adds, “The MAcc is a doorway to truly understanding how businesses make decisions, implement controls and have long-term success." 

As he considered Vanderbilt, he says, “The thing that stood out to me most was that no one talked about their program the way that graduate business students at Owen did. Honestly, I thought they were lying because they had absolutely no complaints. One year later and here I am, with no complaints and only the best things to say about Vanderbilt’s professors, facilities and the opportunities they provide.”

Along with helping him earn a door-opening credential, Gray says, the MAcc program helped him open doors in the industry, enabling him to meet partners at all of the Big Four accounting firms as well as managers, senior managers and staff.

He credits the program for preparing him for the business world in other important ways, too. “Many programs are known for their competitive nature, but I wouldn’t define this as success,” says Gray, who found time amid his studies to tutor second-graders at a nearby school. “You will spend the majority of your career learning to accomplish something together with a team of co-workers. This is the atmosphere Owen provides unlike anywhere else, and you will never work with a team of the same caliber of the people you will meet here. I’ve become best friends with other students from my program, who are some of the absolute best and brightest entering the industry.”

Fun Fact: Gray played linebacker on the football team in college and was a beatboxer for three different acapella groups. He enjoys carpentry in his spare time.

“Honestly, I thought they were lying because they had absolutely no complaints.”