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Students and Alumni

Poole Class of 2021 Spotlight: Joshua Holley

This spotlight series explores the relationships our graduating students have built during their time at Poole with their fellow classmates, faculty, advisors, career coaches, companies, partners or other people.

Joshua Holley (left) and classmate Tung Phung at the Belltower

Joshua Holley, Jenkins MAC Program

Born and raised in the small town of Silverhill, Ala., on the gulf coast, Joshua Holley had his sights on traveling the world.

“I attended the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama, for my bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies and a minor in business,” Holley says. “I knew that I wanted to one day be involved in business in some form and thought that gaining cross-cultural communication skills would be helpful in college, as well.”

After graduating from the University of Mobile in 2016, Holley applied to serve with nonprofit organizations in south Asia, where he worked on education and leadership development projects in places like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 

“It was an incredible experience. After I returned to the U.S. and got married to my wife, Emily, we settled in the Triangle area of North Carolina and I began to consider graduate programs where I could develop a set of technical, business-related skills and qualifications,” Holley says. “I wanted to enter a program that was high-quality, and a field that is in high demand. I remembered back to my undergraduate financial accounting courses and how much I enjoyed that. So, I came to the NC State Master of Accounting department to talk with Jay Arrington about the Jenkins MAC program.”

Without an undergraduate accounting background, Holley was a little intimidated at first – but the MAC staff encouraged him to see what it might look like for him to pursue this degree. 

“I applied immediately after that first meeting and began to work on the prerequisite ASAP courses that NC State offers to prepare me for the graduate program,” Holley says. “Just a short time after that, I was sitting in my first courses as a MAC student.” 

During his time with the MAC program, Holley forged meaningful relationships with his classmates through projects and coursework.

“I was very fortunate to have some brilliant teammates in every class – tax, IT risk and controls, enterprise risk management, audit and others,” he says. “The teams spent a lot of time together each day talking about the work, the program, and at times, just checking in on each other to make sure we were all staying healthy and well. I think I really connected with all of my teammates because we had so much in common and we all wanted to see each other succeed. It was a great way to foster community and I’m sure that the friendships I made will be lifelong. Even though we were all distanced and connecting remotely for the entire year, it was still great to be able to interact with others so often. I also learned so much from all of my classmates.”

Holley also credits his MAC professors with having a big impact on his experience this year. 

All of the MAC staff is so highly trained and experienced, and I considered it a great honor to sit in their classroom.

“All of the MAC staff is so highly trained and experienced, and I considered it a great honor to sit in their classroom,” Holley says. “I remember going through a course called IT risk and controls with professors Jim Scalise and Tom Dow. Professor Scalise came to each lecture and conversation with really valuable experience and advice. Professor Dow also, who advised my risk consulting teams on a few projects, was great to interact with and very helpful the whole year. These two had an especially big impact on my experience because I accepted a job offer to work in risk consulting after I graduate, so I considered their input, wisdom and advice to be very valuable.”

Holley is also grateful for professor Bonnie Hancock, who he says brought joy and energy to the classroom and was always willing to provide valuable feedback.

“I learned and grew so much from studying under these and all of my professors,” Holley continues. “They genuinely cared about me and all of their students and took the time to invest each week in my professional and personal growth.”

However, unlike his undergraduate program, this time after graduation, Holley won’t have to travel far. He will begin working in Raleigh as a risk consulting associate in Raleigh with audit, tax, and consulting firm RSM.