University of Pittsburgh

Alumna Is Inspiring Non-Traditional Accounting Professionals

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sara Conroy (BSBA ’07) established a solid accounting career working for the Big 4 following graduation from Pitt Business. She was a tax associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers for three years, and a senior tax analyst for Global Tax Management for two years. In her roles, she was involved in researching federal and state tax laws, worked on special consulting projects in the oil and gas industry, and was also responsible for presenting new tax software programs to clients. Sara Conroy BSBA 07

While working full time at Global Tax Management, Conroy earned her Master of Business Administration from Robert Morris University.

Even with her success, she felt the tug of another calling pulling her in a different direction. 

In March 2012, Conroy applied to an open Instructor of Accounting position at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) South Campus. After two phone interviews, a panel presentation, a teaching demonstration, and in-person interviews with the Dean and President of the college, Conroy became the first woman to hold the position at the campus. 

“Although I had no previous teaching experience, I think my strong background in accounting and real-world experience is what set me apart from the other candidates,” she said. 

More than 48,000 students enrolled in CCAC in 2013, according to the college’s website. In that same year, $52.8 million was provided for financial aid, including grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study jobs. 

“Many of my students have never had someone to believe in them, or push them to succeed in their career,” Conroy said. 

The mission of CCAC is to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse, and supportive learning environment.

Conroy currently teaches 23 credits per semester, serves as a full-time academic advisor, and is the head of the Business and Accounting Club at CCAC—which she created after completing her first year of teaching.

The Business and Accounting Club is the most popular student organization on the CCAC campus with an average of 45 students involved. By establishing the club, Conroy created an opportunity for her accounting students to network with business professionals and attend workshops and other professional events, including a trip to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City.  

“The best part of my job is having an opportunity to impact the life of a student. I love seeing them grow as young professionals, and having the feeling that I’m making a difference,” Conroy said. 

Conroy has many great memories from her time as a Pitt Business student, including the lifelong friendships she developed with her peers, but what sticks out as a favorite memory is her accounting classes with faculty member Jocelyn Kauffunger. 

After transferring from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering to the College of Business Administration at Pitt, Conroy said that she first considered a career in accounting while in Kauffunger’s accounting class.

“She was the person who told me that I was talented in accounting, and she really put me on course to where I am today,” Conroy said. 

In her classes, Kauffunger often relates course material to her own real-world accounting experiences, something that Conroy now incorporates into her lesson plans. In her accounting experience, Kauffunger held positions with Big 4 companies, including Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.  

“While I’m teaching, I often find myself saying and doing things that I remember from Professor Kauffunger’s class. She has been a huge inspiration on my career,” Conroy said.

Conroy has been a professor for CCAC for three years and is already inspiring her students. 

“I want my students to be motivated and determined to succeed after graduation. And who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to school to earn my PhD and become a professor at a 4-year school in the future,” she said. 

Pitt Business has a number of resources for aspiring accountants. Learn more about our program offerings