Forging Careers in Finance

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how Dr. Jo Lacy, assistant professor of accounting and finance, helps students reach their full potential.


When students ask big questions, Dr. Jo Lacy helps them find the answer.

Michael Mayolo worked through big questions when he began his journey as a finance major. How would he find his first internship? And how would he know which career path to take in the industry?

Those questions can seem daunting to new college students.

But at HPU, students quickly discover an ecosystem of support through caring staff and faculty like Dr. Jo Lacy, assistant professor of accounting and finance.

As a former accountant who has worked in auditing and in accounting consultant roles, Lacy brings two philosophies to her classroom.

First, collaboration is key. She is focused on getting students to work together as a team.

“That’s how life works,” says Lacy. “You need to have good oral and written communication, so we practice conveying their thoughts clearly and articulately to each other. It’s OK to disagree, but work through it together, and in the process, grow your own value system.”

Second, learning doesn’t just happen inside the classroom. As a former accountant, Lacy knows that getting experience outside of the classroom is key for her graduates.

“I bring speakers from firms to my classroom as much as possible because I want students to not only make career connections, but also to ask questions about the profession, advancement and different paths within the field,” Lacy says.

“Our department also hosts ‘Meet the Firms’ events, where students can learn directly from firm leaders on our campus. Many students leave these events with internships, and many internships lead to employment.”

Lacy’s efforts are evident in the outcomes of her students.

“In Dr. Lacy’s class, I was challenged to look beyond a textbook, instead using current events and real companies to better understand the financial world,” said Emily Beilman, ’16, who launched her career at M&T Bank in Buffalo, New York, upon graduation.

When Mayolo took Lacy’s finance class, her teachings helped him grasp financial concepts and prepare him and his classmates for opportunities in the industry.

After acing an interview for a summer finance internship with Leidos, a technology and research company in Mayolo’s home state of Virginia, he further understood how much Lacy had coached him.

“During my interview, I discussed some of the concepts I had learned in Dr. Lacy’s class,” Mayolo says. “She helped to prepare me for the business world, giving me advice about interviews, Excel and communications skills.”

Mayolo is now a senior who has taken advantage of the resources in the Earl N. Phillips School of Business, such as competing in HPU’s Annual Business Plan Competition.

His success inside and outside of the classroom is fostered by professors like Lacy who bring industry experience and connections to the classroom.

“I tell my students to envision themselves 10 years down the road and stand in that space,” says Lacy. “Then turn around and look behind you at the path to getting there. That’s where we have to begin, starting with stepping stone No. 1.”

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