Nan Chen

Nan Chen, MAcc '20

Ready for the Challenge

Nan was ready for a challenge. 

He was enjoying his time at the University of North Texas majoring in finance. He was giving back to his community through various student organizations and helping students explore their career potentials. But as he enrolled in more accounting electives for his major, he realized he had a true passion for the subject. “Accounting is like solving a puzzle for me,” he said. “You have to look beyond the numbers on financial statements to identify where they are from and evaluate how they are developed.” Nan believed his next steps would be searching for a master’s program that would meet his skills where they were, and go above and beyond his expectations.

While he was looking for graduate schools, Nan wanted a combination of things: a change of scenery, a demanding program that would push him, and the flexibility to branch out to different areas of business. “Accounting is something I truly enjoy doing; but, I also knew that to really thrive in the current workplace, I needed more than just accounting.” After sifting through accounting programs from schools across the country, he came across Michigan Ross. The Ross MAcc program would give him the ability to work alongside MBAs with diverse backgrounds, who ranged from experienced workers to those coming out of undergrad. For Nan, Ross checked all the boxes. “I was thinking that if I want to challenge myself, I should choose the school that has high standards to foster my learning and growth.” He reached out to MAcc student ambassadors and alumni during his application process, which confirmed that Ross would be the perfect fit.

Upon entering the program, Nan had the chance to completely shift how he thought about accounting. Along with fellow MAcc students, he traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the EY Accounting and Public Policy Symposium. Nan had the opportunity to hear from leaders in the SEC, the PCAOB, and Ernst & Young. “The speakers made me think about the intersection of accounting and public policy,” he said. “It really made me consider accounting from a broader and bigger perspective and think further about the intended and unintended effects.” 

On-campus, Ross made learning lively for Nan. Action-based learning methods allowed Nan to directly place himself in real-life scenarios thanks to professors utilizing complex case studies. His classmates listened to concerns others had, supported each other regardless of the circumstances, and created an environment where everyone could grow. Nan was taking classes that allowed him to expand his business knowledge across multiple disciplines and collaborate with students outside his program. “I felt that Ross meant more than cold business numbers, they emphasize social impact frequently,” he said.

No matter if it is the Positive Links speaker series, Sanger Leadership Center workshops, or Impact Challenge, these events helped me think further about my purpose as a leader and the social impacts that business will have on our lives.

Regardless of where an individual is in their career journey, Nan believes taking advantage of the vast alumni network at Ross to be extremely beneficial. “While I was looking for jobs, I benefited greatly from our alumni network; during my job search, no matter which cities or companies I was considering, I could always find someone who reps maize and blue.” The alumni he connected with were able to give him interview advice that he used to land a position in Dallas with Ernst & Young. Focusing on the immediate future, Nan plans to finish the remaining sections of his CPA exam and travel around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When asked what he’d like to pass along to those entering the MAcc program, he shared: “Take your time to develop relationships and take pride in being a Wolverine.”