School of Business EY LEADs Program Wins Insight Into Diversity Award

Two students sit outside in front of a glass window with a purple sign that says Massry School of Business.
Massry School of Business is being highlighted by Insight Into Diversity for its ongoing leadership in social mobility. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 4, 2024) — The University at Albany’s Massry School of Business is being highlighted by Insight Into Diversity for its ongoing leadership in social mobility. The school has won the 2023-24 Inspiring Programs in Business Award for its EY Leadership Education in Accounting and Diversity (EY LEADs) Program.

For more than a decade, UAlbany has partnered with EY, one of the largest professional services and accounting firms in the world, to identify and develop outstanding business leaders from diverse backgrounds. The UAlbany/EY collaboration has launched several successful initiatives, including the EY Trajectory Program, the Big Interview mock-interview platform, and the World of Business Living-Learning Community for first-year students with an interest in business or marketing.

“The EY LEADs Program has proven to be one of the most successful EY-UAlbany collaborations in terms of providing pathways for students from historically underrepresented groups to pursue careers in business,” said Massry School of Business Interim Dean Kevin Williams. “The University’s work in preparing students for careers in business is a key contributor to being recognized as a national leader in social mobility.”

A student looks at a sign that says EY: Make it here. Take it anywhere.
The EY Leadership Education in Accounting and Diversity program, a partnership between UAlbany and Ernst & Young, has helped the University become recognized as a national leader in social mobility. (Photo by Paul Miller)

UAlbany has been previously recognized by both U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly as a top performer in social mobility, an annual ranking that measures how well universities graduate students who receive Pell Grants, typically awarded to those who come from households that earn less than $50,000 annually.

The purpose of the EY LEADs program is to retain second and third-year underrepresented students pursuing accounting careers by providing robust academic and career support at essential points in their college studies. Students can to work with two graduate assistants, who provide dedicated office hours, and undergraduate course-specific study sessions while completing their graduate accounting degree programs (including preparation for accounting licensure examinations).

“EY LEADs students benefit from social support from academic support services, peers and recent graduates of the program, which reinforces their ability to build a community and realize success within their chosen profession,” said Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and Equity Samuel Caldwell. “We are grateful to be honored by Insight Into Diversity for this program and to EY for its partnership and support of our ability to provide students with the personalized assistance to achieve their career goals.”

EY LEADs students receive regular mentorship and guidance from experienced EY leaders, who provide guidance with career-building activities such as resume writing and personal branding. Each student who actively participates in the program receives financial support as well, including a $250 scholarship for books and consideration for one of five $1,000 academic scholarships for demonstrated superior leadership and engagement.

"The EY LEADS program on campus has played a pivotal role in shaping my professional journey. The skills and connections cultivated within this program have been crucial to my accomplishments while at the University at Albany,” said Marvin Rodriguez, Tax Senior II (Tax Accounting & Risk Advisory Services) at EY who earned a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting from UAlbany in 2019 and a master’s degree in taxation in 2020.

UAlbany alum and EY Tax Senior Marvin Rodriguez
Marvin Rodriguez, '19, '20, Tax Senior II (Tax Accounting & Risk Advisory Services) at EY (photo courtesy Marvin Rodriguez)

“The program plays a monumental role for many students and its recognition is fully merited. I am thrilled by the opportunities it continues to offer to underrepresented business students at the University,” continued Rodriguez.

UAlbany has launched several successful programs through its partnership with EY to enhance academic success within the Massry School of Business. These programs include the World of Business Living-Learning Community (L-LC), sponsored by EY, which provides first-year students who intend to major in Business Administration, Financial Market Regulation, or Business Economics an opportunity to live with other students who share these interests while pursuing their business degrees. World of Business L-LC students often take courses together while attending weekly career sessions with faculty, EY partners, and other community mentors.

Another collaboration, the EY Trajectory Program, provides real-world practical learning for students interested in information security risk analysis. Students in the program work with EY professionals and UAlbany faculty to analyze and remediate cyber risk for an organization. At the end of the project, students present their analysis to an audience that includes EY partners and UAlbany faculty. These multiple opportunities for engagement between EY and UAlbany demonstrate the dedication of both organizations to academic and career success for all students, and particularly for historically underrepresented students.

The idea for the EY LEADs program began with Associate Professor of Accounting and Law Ingrid Fisher, who was chair of the Accounting Department in 2009 when she attended an EY-sponsored roundtable on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Working in collaboration with UAlbany/EY alumni (known as the EY Bench), and the EY Foundation, Fisher started a series of conversations to refine how to better serve underrepresented students and retain talent within the accounting program. A year later, the EY LEADs program was launched, with the first official cohort participating in the program during the 2010-2011 academic year.

The EY LEADs Program has proven highly successful since its launch. The program has consistently met its enrollment targets by recruiting 15-20 students into the program each year. To date, approximately 215 students have participated in the program. EY also remains one of the top employers of students from UAlbany's Massry School of Business.