Gerlach Hall

Max Alter takes his accounting studies seriously. But his knowledge of why he chose accounting was reinforced after a recent opportunity.

Alter, along with his Master of Accounting classmates, had the chance to interact with Scott Kaufman-Ross, senior vice president and head of gaming and new business ventures at the National Basketball Association (NBA). Ross, a former student of MAcc Program Director and Professor Tzachi Zach, shared his professional journey: from being a sports-obsessed youth to working in a dream role — and the twists and turns that got him there.

The talk was impactful for Alter, a first-year MAcc student, as well as others gathered virtually.

Max Alter headshot
Max Alter 

“When you’re hearing about the risks taken, the regrets had, the successes and the deviations from one’s expected path, that helps observers to replicate the same measure,” Alter said. “I would argue that the nature of these talks provides a complementary motivation to reinforce why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Students listened as Ross described how he tried to take a “safe” career path by studying accounting, ultimately landing at Goldman Sachs out of college. But his professional background and obsession with sports handed him the opportunity of a lifetime when a recruiter from the NBA approached him about a job.

He took the risk, ran into challenges and eventually helped carve his own path by creating a role at the NBA he loves: one that combines working within the world of sports betting and fantasy sports.

Kaufman-Ross was the first speaker in the 2021 MAcc Talks, a series that seeks to “expand students’ horizons and to expose them to different perspectives about accounting, the business world and beyond,” Zach said.

“I try to select speakers with varied backgrounds,” he said. “A good speaker is one who relates to the students well and with whom the students can sympathize.”

Another important purpose of the series is to let students know that accounting is a great entry point to the business world and that their careers could develop in many unpredictable ways, Zach said.

Nathan Brown headshot
Nathan Brown

That illustration also helped inspire MAcc student Nathan Brown.

“Listening to Scott talk about the path he has taken through his career made me think about where I would like to end up beyond my first job,” Brown said. “He talked about how he leveraged his early career experiences to build a foundation and get to one of his ultimate career goals, and I think that is a good strategy that I will try and use in my career when I graduate.”

Brown believes these interactions are a “great way to see how the concepts and principles we are learning in the classroom get applied in real businesses.”

“While learning in the classroom is great, it's just not the same as seeing the real-life impact of what we are currently learning,” he said.

Tzachi Zach Professor
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