Mark Baxter has been named the NC State Jenkins MAC program’s first Distinguished MAC Alumni of the Year.
An assurance partner with EY’s Raleigh Office, he has more than 18 years’ experience, with a primary focus on serving both public and private technology and life sciences companies. He currently is life sciences leader and lead recruiter for EY’s southeast region.
Baxter, who received his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1996 at the NC State University Poole College of Management and his master’s in accounting in 1998 through the Jenkins MAC program, was recognized at the MAC program’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Reception held on April 4. Over 200 Master of Accounting alumni, current students, faculty, firm representatives and special guests attended the event, held at Vaughn Towers at NC State University’s Carter Finley Stadium.
While the selection committee for the award “had many deserving nominees,” said Selection Committee Chair John Broadfoot, CPA, director of recruiting and business development with Thomas Judy and Tucker CPA firm, “we wanted the first recipient of the Distinguished MAC Alumni Award to check as many boxes as possible.” Also on the selection committee were Kelly Ward, director, VACO; Clint Maddox, senior manager, PwC; Brian Crossland, vice president, Global Knowledge, and Sara Ficken, director, BDO.
Involved, supportive alumnus
The selection committee wanted somebody who contributed to NC State and the accounting profession in a variety of ways, Broadfoot said. “We looked for somebody who consistently put the time and effort into supporting the school and its accounting program. Mark has done that for many years and through many different avenues,” he said.
“Mark’s service on the Poole College of Management Board of Advisors and the MAC Board of Advisors are examples of that consistent support. He also supports the students of the MAC program through the Baxter Family Endowment.
“And finally, we saw Mark as somebody who brought people together through his work with Dr. Buckless’ Audit Boot Camp and recruiting others to support the MAC program through coordinated contributions,” Broadfoot said. “After carefully examining all the contributing factors, our committee felt that Mark was the obvious choice to be the first recipient.”
A few accounting courses in high school introduced Baxter to the accounting profession, Baxter said in an email interview with Poole College of Management communications. When starting his undergraduate studies at Poole College, he said he selected accounting as his major, “as it was to me a clear path as to how I could make a career out of it.” he said.
Completing summer sessions throughout his college years and four co-op experiences with IBM enabled him to graduate early with significant work experience. “I then went to KPMG right out of school for two years, and now have been at EY for almost 19 years, working in assurance, and made audit partner in 2012,” Baxter said.
Reflecting back on his academic experience at Poole College, he said, “While I benefited from the variety of business and technology courses, the biggest impact for me was the intermediate and advanced accounting courses in undergrad and MAC. They helped me prepare for the CPA exam,” he said, noting that he passed all four parts on his first attempt. “If I recall correctly, 55 percent of my MAC class passed on the first attempt – and that was back when you had to take all four in one sitting,” he said.
I would not be where I am today without having been appropriately pushed while at Poole – Mark Baxter (NC State Jenkins MAC ’98)
“So I started my Big 4 career with a very strong foundation technically and that really enabled me to succeed in public accounting because the job demands being able to pick up industries, clients and technical issues quickly in order to solve problems and help clients,” he said.
“I also have to be broad based as, in addition to accounting and auditing, I oversee valuation, tax, IT and other subject matter specialists, among other disciplines. I would not be where I am today without having been appropriately pushed while at Poole,” he said.
Practical Experience is Critical
Baxter cited a few key experiences and memories from his student days. Among those was CJ Skender, then a professor in the college’s Department of Accounting. “He was the biggest influence,” Baxter said. “I really connected with his style and he had a way of teaching that each student felt like he was talking directly to them. He made it fun, instilled confidence and made me want to succeed as a way of not letting him down,” he said.
He also cited the practicum courses and co-op opportunities that he completed. These kinds of experiential learning opportunities are “is absolutely a critical part of the process,” he said.
As noted by Broadfoot, Baxter has been an active alumnus of the program, serving as his firm’s campus coordinating partner overseeing its relationship with Poole College, covering school events and hiring activity, and overseeing his firm’s fundraising campaign for Poole College.
Baxter has also served for six-plus years on the Poole College Board of Advisors as well as the MAC advisory board (6+ years), and the NC State Executive Education board.
“I have been fortunate that my career has kept me in Raleigh and enabled me to stay directly connected with the college and faculty,” he said. “We continue to see Poole students graduate and become highly successful. The college should be incredibly proud of where they are and where they are headed,” Baxter said.