AMA: Big 4 -> Military Officer -> Top 10 MBA


I'm new to the WSO community and received an email to do an AMA. I'll be honest, I rarely open myself up to anyone in person, much less online. But, I do this in the spirit of paying it forward. Hopefully my journey can help others in this community.

Brief background:

  • BS in Accounting from a state college (not elite in any way).
  • 4 years in Big 4 (TBH, I loved my time here.)
    • Highlight: Dabbled in Tax and Advisory. Also passed the CPA while here.
  • 3.5 years as an Army officer (I would have never guessed I would have been jumping out planes and helicopters!)
    • Highlight: Learned how to lead from the front.
  • Accepted into a Top 10 MBA program (Class of 2021)
    • Highlight: Deciding between consulting and an FLDP

Ask me anything

Down to answer anything Big4, CPA, Army, Airborne, and MBA related.

WSO Podcast: Big 4 Accounting -> Army Officer -> Top MBA

Member @Rogue_Pogue_Monkey shares his story from making it to the Big 4, the struggles of passing the CPA and how he got promoted. Learn why everything changed, why he decided to join the army and what happened when he collided into the parachute of another officer at 900 feet. Hope you enjoy (listen below).

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Comments (30)

Most Helpful
Jun 7, 2019

did you ever try drugs before becoming an officer? if so, how much did they care when you told them during your interviews (or whatever the interviews are called)? or did you lie about it during the interviews? kind of personal so you don't have to respond about yourself if you don't want, could talk about what you've heard about other people's situations. also thanks for your service

    • 5
Jun 8, 2019

Lol, asking the good questions here!

You don't want to be the guy that gets caught lying! Do people lie about drugs though? I'm sure... all the time probably! Many have lied and still have their clearances. That being said, I DO NOT RECOMMEND LYING.

Just have an off-the-record conversation with the recruiter and be real. Most recruiters will be courteous enough to let you know where you stand without having to document all your smoke sessions and they'll respect the fact that you're mature enough to be upfront about your situation.

I know people who have disclosed that they did in fact use drugs and because they were honest about it, nothing happened. Nothing as in, a waiver was signed-off confirming this person may have something on their record but, they have been excused from an negative action.

Jun 8, 2019

Maybe a question that wasn't touched on during the podcast, you briefly mentioned what you want to do in the future be it consulting of FDLP, why is that and what would you want to gain out of it? Would you see in these careers for the long run or would you try something else later? Maybe close the podcast with a bit of forward looking stuff?

    • 1
Jun 8, 2019

I've seen the post-transaction results (B4) and now understand how certain actions on the "floor" (Army) could impact an organization and why these actions may impact their financial statements/process. As a leader I've had to create a vision, document it and transform that vision into a feasible strategy, execute it and deal with the post execution success/failure.

I've seen "great ideas" from my leadership play out and COMPLETELY CRUSH the morale of my Paratroopers but hey, "we made mission, right?!".

I've also seen how "leveraging the people on the ground" can pay IMMENSE dividends when crafting a strategy. Unfortunately their lack of rank creates an obstacle for them to voice their opinions at times.

So, I think I'm in a good place to transition into strategy consulting and be part of that process, albeit, my background is not the same as a Fortune 500. However, time and time again I've seen how humans will act/respond/think very similarly despite the differences in industry/circumstances.

Honestly, I would love to just see where this opportunity takes me and like the idea of learning how to help companies strategize better. Long-term path is somewhat unclear here so, I'd probably assess every 12-18 months where I'm at.

I suppose this is a natural transition. I have my CPA, I've led Paratroopers, I've experienced busy-season and have executed 36+ hr missions multiple times. I think I can add value to whatever company/FLDP I join by simply being a reliable workhorse and empathetic leader. Obviously, the goal would be a VP role and beyond. We're talking LONG LONG term here.

Disclaimer: I have a kid so, that is definitely a factor in this decision. I would assume an FLDP's work-life-balance is better than consulting. Regardless, we have to make sacrifices to make shit happen sometimes. This is constantly on my mind.

Jun 8, 2019

Did you apply to MBAs as a Captain? Also, if you don't mind me asking, what branch of the Army were you in? I am strongly considering going to Army OCS and am curious about how admissions see logistics vs. combat branches.

Jun 8, 2019

1) Did not apply as a Captain. Applied as a 1st Lieutenant.

2) While I fell under the logistics umbrella, I was specifically Quartermaster.

3) Military branch and MOS branch should have little influence on admissions. Only big influencer would be if you're comparing me to a Seal, Green Beret, or a Ranger. They'd inherently have a higher level of "prestige".

Jun 14, 2019

Definitely agree. I applied with E4 medic experience, and got in at top 10. It's all about how well you did where you were and how well you present it. And yes, of course, if you were a Seal/Green Beret, you'd have an advantage over other military candidates by the nature of selectiveness.

    • 1
Jun 8, 2019

Mind sharing your GMAT score? I'm in an oddly similar boat as you. Prior experience in financial services, joined the Army through OCS, now looking to transition and considering MBA.

Jun 17, 2019

I took both the GMAT and GRE and ended up reporting the better of the two.

GRE = 315

At the end of the day, you're selling a package, not JUST a score... remember that. I'm not perfect and don't feel the pressure/stress to convey that image either. If anything, it makes you... you.

You have to be confident in what you bring to the table, so double down on that. Yes, TRY TO improve your weaknesses, but send what you got when you have a good package.

Allow me to close this statement VERY cheesily with a quote from General Patton that actually fits the situation:

"A good plan violently executed NOW, is better than a perfect plan executed NEXT week."

Jun 17, 2019

What OCS company?

Did you also have to go through Fort Benning basic?

Jul 29, 2019

Bravo Company at OCS. I was class 001-17.

Yes, did BCT at Ft. Benning. Charlie 1-46.

Jun 13, 2019

Thank you for your service.
I bet being in military beat sitting behind a desk, right?

Jun 17, 2019

Dude.... jumping out of a fucking helicopter is an experience that Corporate America will never provide.

Edit: Surreeee, maybe your company can buy a skydiving package but, nothing like jumping out with your fellow Paratroopers.

Jul 29, 2019

Yeah, until you get slotted as an XO and then you're doing paperwork. 5988s and 2062s all day err day. The Atropians will never see us coming.

Jun 13, 2019

are you planning on serving in the reserves/if so how are the prospects of having a job and balancing it with reserve drill commitments/deployments?

Jun 17, 2019

I don't plan to.

Individual Ready Reserves for now.

Besides, my reserve buddies talked me out of it precisely because of the amount of time it will take up. Maybe after my MBA I'll join a reserve unit that is Airborne so I can jump again once I hit my next corporate life crisis, haha.

Jul 12, 2019

I see. Makes sense. Was asking since I'm a pilot/wanted to fly for the Air Force ever since I was a kid but don't see a career in flying (I hate flying straight and level so flying commercial would drive me nuts) and have been extremely interested in pursuing finance/business long-term. Was thinking of applying to the Air National Guard if a fighter slot came up, and then returing to the workforce, but we'll see.

Thanks for your service and the response. Best of luck out there.

Jun 14, 2019

Wow an awesome story!

Very similar path as mine. I did 4 yrs enlisted medic -> 2 yrs Big 4 tax -> Heading to Top 10 MBA as well. Also considering MC and FLDP for the same reasons you mentioned (pregnant wife, so kid on the way).

Quick question on CPA. Did you do CPE courses and maintain your registration while in the Army? or just let it lapse and currently inactive? I guess if I go consulting, they could care less about my CPA but corp finance will definitely care about my CPA. Just wondering what you did and what I should do during MBA with my CPA registration.

    • 1
Jun 17, 2019

Hell yeah, TYFYS... lol, I'm serious! I'm so happy to hear that you left and have been killing it. Proud of you, brother!

I've been doing some consulting related networking with various firms so, feel free to DM me to exchange that info.

With regard to the CPA, I passed the exam but did not certify due to lack of school credits. I'll probably certify after my MBA depending on my role (like you mentioned).

For most states, if you are certified and place your status as "inactive", you are not required to take CPE credits. Look into your state regs.

Jun 22, 2019

Thanks! and also TYFYS. I'll DM you and we can connect through LinkedIn if you'd like.

With CPA, yeah I think I'll just make mine inactive and do CPE credits again if I know for sure I go for FLDP.

    • 1
Jun 16, 2019

Hope you are still willing to answer some questions....

I graduate in exactly a year, May2020 from Army ROTC in the south. I am TORN between going AD for four years, or R/NG in preferred state & starting my career in CRE right away.

If I went AD, id try to go Armor/FA, IN isn't for me and I'm not interested in going to Ranger School or SF route.

Many people have told me.."if you don't want to make it a career, don't do it" but I'm still unsure. I know I will have regrets with either decision.

I am trying to decide which one will make me happier and will be a better decision in the short-term & long-term..

Do you have any advice?

Jun 17, 2019

Well, before I say anything, what is your major and what would you do instead of your AD assignment?

Jun 19, 2019

My major is a BBA in Real Estate and I would be an investments broker in commercial real estate

Some more info about me... I enjoy exercise and lifting. I am very interested in investments/making money/being my own boss but I handle having a boss very well/am very coachable. I don't want to make a career out of the military so I would do the four years and get out, then start my career in commercial real estate. I'm the only person in my family who will be in the military/no legacy- solely for my own purpose.

Jun 23, 2019

Sorry to be pressing. I do look forward to your response and thoughts.

Jun 22, 2019

At what point in the process did you submit your REFRAD packet? Did you wait until you received acceptance at the MBA program before submitting it? Were your superiors generally accepting of your decision and did your rater/senior rater provide recommendations for your application? I've heard horror stories of officers submitting REFRADs and then subsequently being placed on all of the nasty details for their remaining tenure on active duty.

Jun 22, 2019