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The Three Concentrations: Information Technology (IT), Tax Strategy & Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)

Author: Cindy

The Three Concentrations: Information Technology (IT), Tax Strategy & Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)

Hello Everyone,

The semester is about to end and I can’t believe how fast time flew by. If you already have or are going to attend any MAC Alumni or Mac-for-a-Day sessions this is probably something you will hear a lot “it will be difficult at times, but time will go by really fast and you will look back and realize how much you have learned and gotten out of it”. I cannot agree more. It feels like I just started yesterday and now I am already signed up for the Spring 2016 Semester.

The Three Concentrations

But enough of that. As Brian mentioned in his last blog I will be talking about the three concentrations that the MAC Program at NC State has to offer: Information Technology (IT), Tax Strategy, and Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). Although it is encouraged that you pick a concentration it is not required. You technically can wait till you get to your spring semester to actually pick what and if you are going to concentrate. In the fall semester you will start off with one elective, which can be either in the area of a concentration or just any other MBA elective of your choice (if approved to be a valid MBA elective under the MAC Program). No worries there are a lot of choices if you are not interested in either of the three areas. If you are thinking of concentrating but you are not sure, pick the elective in the concentration that you are most interested in. That way you can either continue down this road in spring if you liked the class or you decide that you are not concentrating and you pick other classes that interest you in spring.
As I am not concentrating in IT or tax I will let Gordon Walker and Yufei Guo, fellow MAC students, take on those two sections. You will hear from me again in the ERM section.

Information Technology (IT)

Hello! My name is Gordon. This semester I am taking the required course IT Risks and Controls and the elective Data Analytics. I am thoroughly enjoying both of these classes. IT Risk and Controls really helped me further understand the processes involved in IT governance issues and to better understand just how important it is for a company or organization to effectively manage its IT systems. Data Analytics gave me the opportunity to utilize statistics and powerful tools such as Excel’s PowerPivot, SAS Visual Analytics, XLMiner, and ASP to generate visualizations and models to help make predictions and spot trends. Usually IT concentration students take ERP Systems, but since I took the undergraduate version last year, I was given the opportunity to take Data Analytics instead. I am really looking forward to my Spring classes! I am scheduled to take IT Audit and Network Infrastructure. I have talked with a lot of people who previously went through the program and apparently these classes are really awesome. In recent years, Information Technology has continually grown in significance and importance. You would be hard pressed to find a business that does not rely on IT systems and resources. For this reason, there is a growing demand for individuals with the knowledge and expertise to help maintain, establish, and improve these systems. There is also a large need for individuals that are knowledgeable of the various regulations and requirements based around IT systems. These include but are not limited to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. Information Technology is changing and updating all the time. As technology becomes more complex, there will always be a need for people who can work with these technologies to help a company generate value.

Learn more about the IT concentration:

Tax Strategy

Hello I am Yufei and I chose the Tax Strategy concentration. The tax elective that I am taking this semester is Corporate Tax Strategy. It discusses the tax and auditing aspects related to income tax provisions. As we all know, corporations must file income tax returns following the guidelines developed by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service); thus, every single firm must present financial information to investors or related users that provides a clear picture of present and potential tax obligations and tax benefits. Therefore, no matter what you end up doing in the accounting field, working for corporations, entering public accounting, or even becoming an entrepreneur, it is extremely helpful to have a basic understanding of tax strategies. My first tax concentration class, as I mentioned above, is the most practical tax class I have ever had. It ties closely with my undergrad financial accounting knowledge, and gives me a good insight in what the numbers mean from a tax perspective. Our major objective of this class is to be able to prepare an annual tax provision and the related disclosures, and we are almost there! The texts we use for this class are actual primary authorities in tax and accounting, which will prepare us well to be able to read tax codes and do tax research. A lot of group projects are involved in this class since professionals typically work in teams. Our Professor Jennie Dirienzo is a retired professional from a public accounting tax practice. She shares a lot of her work experience with us by giving us real world examples that we can directly relate back to the information in our course books. We also had a guest speaker from Deloitte, who walked us through how practical the things we learn in this class are when we apply it to public accounting. So far I thoroughly enjoy my tax concentration class and I am looking forward to the elective offered in the Spring semester: Taxes and Business Strategy. To me tax is never an easy topic and there is no way for me to sugarcoat the difficulty of tax classes, but for sure, it will be a rewarding experience that will help me in the tax section of the CPA and my career.

Learn more about the Tax Strategy Concentration:

Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)

Hey this is Cindy again and I am concentrating in ERM. NC State has a very solid ERM initiative and works closely with many other organizations that are interested in establishing an ERM Framework in their organization. Also, ERM is still somewhat new and more and more companies are interested in implementing ERM at their organization or drastically improving their version of risk management, which gives students with an ERM concentration lots of job opportunities in this field. Even if you decide to go a different direction (tax, audit, advisory etc.) the ERM classes will help you to gain an enterprise-wide understanding when it comes to a company’s strategy and the related risks and the threats but also opportunities that come with it. I don’t want to get too technical here but I will try my best to explain what ERM is in layman’s terms. Traditional risk management will be conducted by a department for example, this is what we would call a silo approach. Each department’s manager is responsible to manage the risks that arise in their department and try to mitigate those risks. Enterprise risk management, as the term says, focuses on an enterprise-wide view of risks. Meaning, there are certain risks out there that affect several departments. It would be impossible to successfully mitigate a risk that affects several departments if each manager is individually trying to mitigate it. Additionally ERM is not only trying to mitigate risks but tries to see opportunities in those risks and specifically focuses on risks that would have an overall effect on a company’s strategy. So far it has been really interesting! We have done some group assignments, some individual assignments, group presentations, and had several guest speakers that came by to talk about their company’s ERM initiative. In spring I will be taking an ERM Practicum, where we will be split in groups and we will go into an actual company and try to help them with their ERM initiative. The second class will be focusing on data analytics. I am looking forward to both classes but I am specifically excited for the practicum and to find out what company I will be working with.

Learn more about the ERM concentration:

I hope this blog helped explain the three concentration options. Feel free to comment if you have further questions. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @NCStateMAC.

Thanks for reading,
Cindy B.