At the University at Buffalo School of Management’s undergraduate commencement ceremony this year, Marco Gangarossa, BS ’18, was the first student to walk across the stage and receive his diploma.
He earned this privilege as one of just 15 UB students — and the only School of Management major — honored with the 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest recognition students can receive in the State University of New York system.
As his family, friends and classmates looked on, the accounting student proudly joined the ranks of UB alumni, capping off an undergraduate career that found him taking every opportunity to lead and grow personally and professionally.
“The only way to achieve success is to surround yourself with good people and always work hard,” says Gangarossa, who will return to the School of Management this fall for the Master of Science in Accounting program. “My family was so proud of me, and I was happy I could show them how the long hours I spent studying and being involved in my community paid off.”
A West Seneca native, Gangarossa credits his brother and his high school accounting teacher with helping him realize his passion for accounting and set a goal to become a CPA. As a School of Management freshman, he joined the UB Accounting Association (UBAA) and later was named president for the 2017-18 school year. Through UBAA, Gangarossa says he learned how to build his personal brand and developed strong friendships and connections with his peers.
“As UBAA president, my proudest accomplishment was effectively managing an e-board of seven outstanding individuals, who put on several events each semester to help members improve their communication skills and expand their network,” he says. “We also volunteered around Buffalo, bringing members together for the greater good and to create relationships that will last a lifetime.”
The PwC Challenge, an annual competition the Big Four firm hosts on 100 campuses nationwide, was another opportunity for Gangarossa to hone his analytical and decision-making skills. During his junior year, he and his team, named Let’s Get Fiscal, won the competition and moved on to the national PwC Corporate Responsibility Challenge — where they won again.
“These events were two of the most important things that set me up for success,” he says. “I’ve been asked about the PwC competitions in every interview I’ve had and believe it played a heavy role in being selected for an internship at PwC this summer.”
During his senior year, Gangarossa sought to gain experience with investing and the stock market, and joined the UB Equity Research Club. Through weekly stock pitches and lectures, he learned how to identify trends, research companies and create models to predict future stock value.
In May, Gangarossa squared off against 40 of his peers in the club’s inaugural competition, investing $250,000 of fictitious money in a stock simulator to see who could generate the best return. After two weeks, his risky investment in an Indonesian pharmaceutical company paid off — adding nearly $470,000 to his initial “investment” and taking first place in the competition.
“The club gave me a competitive advantage in my internship because now I can analyze financial statements and quarterly reports to predict future outcomes,” he says. “I’d encourage any student to join.”
As Gangarossa wraps up his summer internship with PwC, he’s already preparing to take the CPA exam, enter the MS Accounting program and eventually join the public accounting industry, where he’ll be armed with the skills and network he gained through all of these experiences.
“When I look back on deciding on colleges and majors, I am so happy I chose the UB School of Management for accounting because it was a perfect match,” Gangarossa says. “This is where I’m supposed to be, and this is how I want to spend my career. I transformed so much over my four years at UB, but it felt right every step of the way and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.”