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MAC Alum ’96 Has What it Takes to Succeed

By Jess Clarke

As a two-time competitor in an Ironman event, a grueling mix of swimming, running and biking, Mike Owenby has what it takes to succeed: drive, skill, focus, mental toughness and persistence.    

To stay in shape in middle age, the graduate of Jenkins’ Master of Accounting (MAC) program started running and cycling with friends. Then he completed a half-Ironman event, followed by full Ironman competitions in 2015 and 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Before you know it, you keep stepping up, and you go for it,” Owenby says. “In Ironman, there’s a comradery with other athletes. You’re not really competing against each other…Everybody’s supporting each other. It’s a big sense of accomplishment.”

The same sentiments — and the same qualities he tapped for Ironman — apply to Owenby’s 25-year career with the international professional services firm Deloitte, where he recently became managing partner of the Raleigh office. 

“My overall goal and vision are to build on and solidify the position Deloitte already has in this market, as one of the very few go-to firms clients look to when they’re seeking professional services,” he says. “I want us to be the No. 1 place where clients want to come, and hopefully that makes us the employer of choice, too…because people think we provide the best opportunities for their career.”

Owenby has always found career-advancement options at Deloitte.

He has worked at the Raleigh office for his whole Deloitte tenure. He sometimes thought about moving to another location to advance with the firm, but “Every time I thought about that, a new opportunity arose here,” he says. 

As managing partner, Owenby oversees about 500 employees who work in the areas of tax, consulting, audit and assurance, and risk and financial advising. He’ll focus on continuing to align with the firm’s emphasis on “clients, colleagues and being a good force in the community,” he says.  

Owenby still works as a tax consultant, now mostly with public- and private-sector multinational companies. “One of the most fun parts of this business has always been the personal relationships with people in the office but also getting out in the market…and bringing in new clients to the firm. That’s an exciting piece of what I do,” he says, “winning new business.”

With his office just down the road from NC State, Owenby has never forgotten his MAC experience and maintains ties with the accounting department. A 1996 Jenkins graduate, he was in the second MAC class.   

The MAC program prepared him well to start his career.    

“It was a perfect blend of auditing and accounting concepts with real-world case study skills,” Owenby says, citing proficiencies he built in communication, presentation, critical thinking and teamwork. “NC State really sets you up. Everything they do is to help you get that first job after school. It was a huge help to my career.”

Owenby gives back as a member of the Department of Accounting Advisory Board. He’s also a former member of the MAC alumni board, which advises program administrators.  

For years, Owenby has been involved with recruitment of employees and interns at NC State. “It’s a great school and a great crop of students coming out. We very much still want to be part of that,” he says. “NC State is extremely respected by Deloitte.”

For good reason — MAC alumni make an impact at the firm. 

MAC graduates, with a mix of technical and soft skills, “really hit the ground running when they start. They’re always very successful,” Owenby says. 

One of his most valuable MAC experiences has nothing to do with academics. He and his future wife, Kate, also a 1996 MAC graduate, met as students. She’s now chief finance and business officer with the American Board of Anesthesiology. 

For Owenby, becoming managing partner with Deloitte is his biggest career achievement. He became a full-time tax partner there in 2008. 

His office, relatively small for Deloitte, “still has a bit of a family feel to it,” he says. And he wants to maintain that feel, as his employees serve clients with Deloitte’s diverse resources. 

Owenby will work to position his firm as “the employer of choice” for talented accountants and “to make sure we’re seen in the community as a very positive company that gives back,” he says. “My goal is to be successful at this and make the Raleigh office be the best it can be.”

This post was originally published in MAC Program.