Cameron O’Donnell, BBA ’19, transferred to Temple University as a sophomore looking for a major that interested him and provided unique job opportunities. After some searching, he found that accounting fit the bill. As O’Donnell says, accounting is “a dynamic, forward-thinking profession that provides the motivated and curious with opportunity.”
Just one year into his role at KPMG, O’Donnell is making a name for himself as an expert in Alteryx, a self-service data and analytics platform used across industries to provide predictive, spatial, and statistical analysis. He was drawn to the use of analytics in business and enjoyed exploring software applications to analyze data and inform decisions.
He states, “Everything you do in the accounting profession starts with data—your ability to functionally work with that data is what will help deliver quality to clients.”
“Technology is transforming the way that we do business. Working in tax, advanced data and analytics allow us to explore new ways to bring value to our clients,” he adds. “[I love] finding opportunities in the application of technology in the practice of taxation.”
O’Donnell, a tax associate, has returned to the Fox School as a guest speaker for Professor Cory Ng’s accounting senior seminar class regarding Alteryx. “One of my favorite things is to come back and communicate these experiences to students,” he says. Recently he also spoke at the Department of Accounting’s virtual information session for prospective students.
We asked O’Donnell to share his thoughts on the Fox difference, mentorship and Alteryx.
Why did you pick the Fox School?
After transferring to Temple University and taking an introductory accounting course, I became more interested in learning about the Fox School of Business. The faculty not only answered all my questions but immediately offered guidance and assurance that I would not be just another student. After joining the Fox School, it became evident that every student is taught a comprehensive understanding of business to build upon as they begin their careers.
What were some of your most important experiences at Fox?
I am a huge supporter of student working positions at Fox. For three years, I worked as a classroom evaluator for Matthew Kunkle in the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. This student worker position included unique consulting skills that would directly transfer into the professional world. These skills include the collection of data, public speaking, data analytics and reporting. Matt also became my mentor at Fox, and I leaned on him as I progressed through the curriculum.
Beta Alpha Psi, the honorary accounting fraternity, is another important group I became involved with at Fox. This student professional organization (SPO) is where I created my LinkedIn account, met the KPMG managing director that I would eventually directly work for and made lifelong friends!
Some other incredible experiences would include receiving course credit for an internship with KPMG (through the accounting co-op course), being an active member of the Temple University Debate Team, and leading accounting efforts for an international competition with Temple Formula Racing.
What technologies/software systems were you exposed to in school?
Throughout the accounting curriculum, I developed a passion for technology. Students are exposed to technologies in multiple classes including auditing, accounting senior seminar and the introductory MIS course. I learned introductory SAP, intermediate ACL, Qualtrics, Excel and Alteryx at Fox.
I began learning Alteryx during my senior year at Temple University. After much self-studying, I applied Alteryx in my student worker position and explored its application in my senior seminar class. Little did I know that advanced data and analytics with Alteryx would become my immediate focus at the start of my professional career.
How do you use Alteryx today?
Currently, I am one of 700 certified Alteryx Partners globally, have worked directly on national innovation initiatives, and serve as a national subject matter expert for all things Alteryx at KPMG. The accounting curriculum allowed me to see the value of technology in the professional world. As us Alteryx users say, alter everything!
During an engagement, that typically requires statistical sampling, we were able to conduct geographical data analysis on all of the client’s data to understand the facts more holistically. This analysis was used to make significant and strategic decisions. Yes, spatial analytics in taxes. Pretty cool!
What’s next for you? Where do you hope your career leads you? What are you looking forward to?
I will continue to work with tax innovation. In the future, I am looking forward to building a career that focuses on advancing the practice of taxation using data analytics. The accounting program at Fox provided me with an all-around business foundation to build upon. There’s nothing more important to me than to make Temple University’s Fox School of Business proud as I continue to help KPMG change the practice of taxation.