Overcoming My Fear of Accounting

A faculty member addressing the class, accounting

I was born on March 2, and so was Dr. Seuss. Naturally, I was destined for creative writing!

It made sense to my undergrad college advisor, Dr. Burke. He was thrilled to have another English major on board and quickly sold me on the core competencies that strong writing and reading skills enhanced. Upon graduation, my future would be a blank canvas.

My Career Track

While creative writing was certainly a passion, I had bills to pay. Career options seemed plentiful at the time. Law School? Journalism? Editor in Chief of Highlights magazine? Or better yet, world-class novelist! Ah, the artsy people are always dreamers, aren’t they?

I settled on a “Management in Training” position at Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. There began my career in sales.

The years went by and Dr. Burke’s claim held true. My writing and communication skills were solid, and I excelled in the marketing and sales arena. Within a year, I used my experience at Enterprise to move into health care. From pharmaceutical sales to medical device sales, I continued to push forward.

I’ve now been with GCX Corporation for nine years and recently took on a regional sales manager position. While working with my boss to map out my career trajectory, we realized there was something missing. I had zero experience in operations, manufacturing, or engineering.

This was kind of a bummer considering we’re an engineering and manufacturing company. We agreed that I should purse my MBA in order to broaden my understanding of the core fundamentals of business. And that’s where Fuqua came in.

Uh-oh…Accounting!

I was terrified! I had two months before Term 1 began and wasn’t confident in my quantitative background. When checkbooks were a thing, I’d bounce them like basketballs. My pre-term accounting assignment wasn’t my proudest moment either. It dawned on me—impossible as it sounded at the time—that I had to buckle down and commit to learning a new mathematical language at the speed of light. 

I can’t speak for other business schools, but Fuqua’s resources seem limitless, and certainly have gone beyond my expectations. Support from the faculty and staff motivates students to push forward and get past their struggles. In my case, when I communicated my concerns and pure fear regarding accounting, I was stunned at the response. My professor, Jiang Xu, offered to do private WebEx with me. His teaching assistant, Robert Hills, did the same. My cohort also came through and a study group was formed locally for our South Charlotte crew. 

When it Started to Click

Fast forward a few weeks, and the mid-term was approaching. However, my panic was actually fading. I was committed to putting in the time to learn the subject matter—not simply for the grade, but to maximize the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of accounting. As my boss had promised, it would pay off once I had the foundation.

A few months ago, I thought “debits and credits” were “bank cards versus Amex.” But that ambiguity turned into certainty and practice paid off. On that accounting midterm—despite having a panic attack half-way through and Professor Xu having to calm me down—I received an 81 out of 87. Yeah, 93%! I didn’t think this would be possible for a sales girl.

My point in sharing this is to show that there are no barriers to success if you put in the work. For me and my experience with accounting, it was more work than most of my classmates because I had to build a platform before I could understand the concepts in class. However, the necessary resources are made available thanks to Fuqua, the amazing faculty, and your cohort. The challenges will be overwhelming at times, but if you break up the work into pieces and celebrate the small wins, you can and will succeed. At least until Term 2 when Statistics starts. 😉

Christine Witte, Duke Fuqua student blogger in the Weekend Executive MBA program

Christine Witte

Weekend Executive MBA, Class of 2018

I’m a mom and wife first, executive and MBA student second, and runner in my... Read More

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