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MAC Alum ’21 Perspective: One Year Later

By Jess Clarke

Jon Malote ’21 felt welcome on different levels at Poole College as he considered which graduate accounting program to choose.

In exploring the options, he was impressed by the accessibility of faculty in Poole’s Master of Accounting (MAC) program. “I could tell they actually cared about their students,” he says. “They gave us a chance to interact with them, which was a huge draw to the program.”

The MAC program’s emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion was another draw for Malote, who moved with his family from their native Philippines to Asheville, North Carolina, when he was a young boy.  

Poole Director of Admissions Jay Arrington “is opening the door for people of different backgrounds to be exposed to the accounting profession,” Malote says. “It encouraged me that they’re trying to invest in students and their careers, and I hope I see more Filipino CPAs as a result.”

Malote will be one of those CPAs himself, and the MAC program has helped him fast-track the process.

With the time-management skills he learned as a MAC student, he studied for, and passed, the CPA exam before he started his job as an assurance associate with the Raleigh accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA). The MAC program gave him the academic credits he needed to be eligible to take the exam.

Malote had the job in hand before he graduated, as part of the firm-sponsored, merit-based MAC fellowship he received. He expects to have his CPA license in September.

Preparation for the CPA exam and networking opportunities were his drivers to pursue a MAC degree.  

By building relationships with classmates and professors, “It has really helped me to start early to expand my network,” Malote says. Many of his CLA colleagues are Jenkins MAC graduates, which “helps to build a spirit of comradery right off the bat.”  

Malote was on an alumni panel that spoke during the MAC orientation in August. Those kinds of events were useful for him as a student. “One strength of the program is they do a great job showing students they’re invested in their education and professional development…You feel you’re part of a broader network of alumni. It gives you a strong foundation to branch out and meet people.” 

Jon Malote with other MAC alumni at orientation.

In addition to that foundation, the most useful way the MAC program prepared Malote for his career was helping him develop skills to find information. “The biggest lesson I got from the program is knowing how to ask questions and find answers,” he says. “The way the program is structured made it OK to wander a bit and ask yourself what resources you needed to refer to. That’s something that was emphasized.” 

He also gained an understanding of data analytics and learned how to use Tableau and other software programs at a weeklong bootcamp at the start of the MAC program. Data analytics is “becoming more and more in demand within the marketplace. It’s definitely a skillset a lot of managers expect,” Malote says. 

He advises MAC students to get to know their classmates and start networking early. “Make the most of it because before you know it, you’ll be walking on the stage” to accept the diploma, he says. “The people you’ll build relationships with…are the people you’re going to see working at your firm, or they might be your clients one day.”

In addition to doing audits and reviews at CLA, Malote works in transaction due diligence with private equity firms that want to invest in or sell a target company.   

“I really enjoy the high-level analytics of doing quality-of-earnings-and-assets reports for different companies we work with,” he says. “I work closely with founders and executive teams. It’s interesting seeing the entrepreneurial aspect of it at the ground level.”

At the start of his career, Malote is focused on expanding his skills to broaden his options for advancement. “The best thing I can do now is develop myself as much as I can,” he says. Creating bonds with clients “motivates me to learn and produce a good product for the people I’m working with.” 

This post was originally published in MAC Program.