There are no gray areas in auditing. No subjectivity. What you see is what you get.
So to win the Elijah Watt Sells Award, a person must have taken the Uniform CPA Examination, have a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the exam and pass each one on the first attempt.
The numbers don’t lie. Philip Meek won the Elijah Watt Sells Award hands down.
And it’s those “black and white” results that drew Philip Meek into auditing as a profession in the first place. There are always new angles and avenues to explore, and it’s a lot like solving a puzzle, he says.
“That’s what I love about auditing,” Meek says. “It feels like you’re always learning something new.”
Meek graduated from the Sam M. Walton College of Business in 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance and economics. He is an assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Springdale and works closely with Tyson Foods Inc., which is headquartered in the city.
The opportunity to work at PwC was the result of a social gathering associated with a career fair hosted by Walton. Meek met a few representatives “and things just played out from there,” he says.
With a job lined up, the only thing he had to do next was to pass his CPA exam, which he began taking in July and did so every two weeks until late August, all in his native Fort Smith. “My first exam, I walked out of there and thought it was the hardest test I’ve ever taken,” Meek says.
After completing the second section, Meek wasn’t sure how he was doing, but he forged through the third and fourth portions. He then went to work for PwC, learned he had passed and life was good. He had a career with interesting work and likable coworkers.
Life was about to get even better.
The following April, Meek was in Springfield, Missouri, working with Bass Pro Shops when he received an email that would make his day, if not his year: he was one of 75 out of 93,742 who had won the Elijah Watt Sells Award for 2015. Other than telling his family, he kept the news to himself. But three weeks later, the American Institute of CPAs officially released the news. His coworkers wouldn’t let the news go unobserved.
“We’re more of a team,” Meek says. “When one of us wins, we all win.”
Meek was one of two Walton graduates to win the award that year, the other being Addison Scott. (Read about Addison here.)
He experienced teamwork as a Walton College undergraduate, where he studied abroad in Belize, helping community members hone their business skills, and as an intern with the J.M. Smucker Co., a Walmart vendor, where he worked in category management. He was also vice president of the University of Arkansas chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society for business students, under the guidance of John Norwood, Walton accounting professor who also served as his mentor.
Now Meek passes the opportunities along to current college students by representing PwC at career fairs and attending accounting events hosted by Walton.
For those students enrolled at Walton College, Meek knows what to tell them: “You’re making a great decision because you’re going to learn so much.”
It’s a decision he’s glad he made.
“A lot of great memories,” Meek says of Walton. “I think about all the people I met, all the great experiences.”