From anchors away to accounting success

Posted on November 01, 2019

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Whether on the ocean or in the office, Robbie Gaines (BS ’10, MSA ‘11) has always given back to his community. Here he continues his commitment to service by sharing his story as well as career-development tips for students and young professionals. 

“Prior to attending UNCG, I served in the US Navy. The personal satisfaction from serving a greater cause compelled me to continue in that path,” said Robbie. “Having an MSA, and subsequently becoming a CPA, has enabled me to serve the public through financial markets.”

“By far the most rewarding aspect of my job is the incredible people I work with on a daily basis, both members of our team and clients. I’m fortunate to work in an industry with exceptional individuals who are bright, highly motivated, and ambitious. The most challenging aspect of my job is trying to determine which opportunity is the best long-term career decision. PwC provides so many different career alternatives that it is often times difficult to determine the correct career path at the correct time.”

Weighing multiple career options? Robbie suggests asking yourself these questions to assess your goals:

  • What do I need personally and professionally?
  • What aspects of the job are important to me? Location? Financial stability? Risk? Opportunities to travel?
  • What does the firm need from me?

Another way to clarify your future plans is to complete an internship while you are still in school or shortly after you graduate. This will help you learn what you like and dislike, and determine if the company or position meet your goals. Start by looking at your interests and then find an internship that grabs your attention and sparks your curiosity. In the field of accounting, many students are required to have an internship before joining a company full-time.

Robbie stresses the importance of entering a new company with as much experience as possible. “Aside from mastering accounting fundamentals and technical skills, the two most important traits an entry-level candidate can have are communication and technology skills. Those two are an absolute must! A successful candidate must be able to communicate effectively, both written and orally. I would argue that effective public speaking and communication skills are the most important skills coming directly from campus. Technology is the other. We are living in a digital revolution, and aspiring professionals who lack in technology/digital skills will get left behind.”

Robbie suggests the best way to stand out to an employer is to be proactive in your future career. He loves seeing candidates come in having already earned their CPA license. This shows the candidate takes initiative and would be able to dedicate more of their attention to work, instead of having to study for the exam. “When you start somewhere new, approach it like a new class,” said Robbie. Come in with a good mindset and be ready to learn as much as you can. He also stressed the importance of being proactive. Take initiative in your role – don’t wait to be told what to do. Apply what you have learned in the classroom and be ready to demonstrate your skills.

“My education at the Bryan School, and specifically within the Accounting and Finance Department, provided relevant, practical, and real-world experience.  The faculty members are world class and provide a unique and first-hand perspective.”

Career Spotlight: Robbie’s primary responsibilities as an assurance manager for PWC

  • Managing the daily audit operations of the engagement team throughout the various phases of an audit engagement
  • Planning interim and year-end audit procedure
  • Completion procedures for the integrated audit
  • Quarterly filings
  • Client related transactions
  • Other required SEC filings


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