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MAC Alumnus Pursues Big-City Dreams

To many, when asked to envision a tax accountant, images of a cubicle, spreadsheets and solitude appear. This individual has his head down figuring out tax returns all day without much human interaction. For a small percentage that may be true but Jacob Case, Jenkins MAC ‘10, knows a different accounting world.

Case is currently associate director of international tax at The Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles, CA. He grew up in a small town in North Carolina and will always consider it home but after college he had a strong desire to move to a larger city. Los Angeles was at the top of his list due to the weather and variety of outdoor activities available. After graduation, he worked for two large public accounting firms. During his time at one of the firms, he requested to do a rotation in their Los Angeles office, but unfortunately there wasn’t a sufficient business need to approve the rotation at the time. 

How then did a born and raised North Carolinian make it across the country to the City of Angels? 

“I started looking at jobs outside of public accounting in Los Angeles; particularly those in the entertainment industry since I wanted to do something unique to the area if I was going to make the move. Eventually I came across a posting for an international tax manager at 20th Century Fox in late 2015, applied for it, and got the job!” says Case.

His experience working in core tax services and as an international tax senior and manager in public accounting helped him secure this new opportunity.

In Case’s current role he coordinates with the finance teams, both domestic and international, to compile data for U.S. tax reporting of the company’s international tax operations. He manages a team of tax seniors and consultants that use this information to prepare the tax returns for thousands of foreign entities.  Working for a major studio also has perks he says, as you get to “see issues that are unique to the entertainment industry, such as lucrative tax incentives offered by various states or countries to entice filming in their particular jurisdictions, and the complexities associated with participations and royalties paid to the “talent”.”

Other perks include walking around an active studio lot to see filming on “New York Street” or to pass by an actress or actor out for a mid-day jog. And you can’t pass up a free movie screening from time to time he says.

Prior to working for Walt Disney, Case worked for 20th Century Fox but became an employee of The Walt Disney Company upon completion of the acquisition of the company in March 2019. He says it has been exciting, but also very challenging as the studios had very different accounting systems and tax systems, so integrating systems and personnel has been a monumental task.

Remember the cubicle and solitude envisioned as a tax accountant? Case’s time at Fox/Disney has afforded him opportunities to travel to the Hong Kong finance hub and has helped him network with individuals who are high-level executives at large companies like Netflix and Hulu.

His advice for current students graduating soon that are interested in working for a big company/industry like the Walt Disney Company?

“While it is certainly possible to start out in entry-level positions at large companies, I highly recommend spending at least a few years in public accounting first. You will have a chance to interact with clients in public accounting, which will help you build your professional network. I have encountered many instances where public accounting colleagues eventually went to work for a client, so it is imperative to always be professional when interacting with clients or other members of the accounting community.”

He believes public accounting is one of the best places to grow in technical knowledge and to gain valuable interpersonal skills.

And he also recommends enrolling in a master of accounting program. “The Jenkins MAC Program provides a great foundation of accounting knowledge, in addition to stellar CPA preparation and recruiting services. The foundational knowledge and networking opportunities provided by the program make the transition to starting your accounting career much easier.”

This story is the fourth in our “Life After MAC” series.  All Jenkins MAC alumni are encouraged to share their stories with us. If interested, email, Andrea Young. All stories in the series can be found on our alumni website.