Community Spotlight: Mikunda, Cottrell & Co. Inc.

by Ted Kincaid  |   

Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., Inc. UAA Accounting AlumniOn the sixth floor of the Frontier Building in the heart of midtown Anchorage, is the office of Mikunda, Cottrell & Co. Inc., a full service accounting firm, which employs a little over 100 accountants, 30 percent of whom are UAA College of Business and Public Policy accounting graduates.

MCC is proud that they employ such a high number of UAA accounting grads. In fact, four out of the seven partners are UAA accounting alumni.

"From the company point of view, we really want to get people who want to stay, who live here, who have connections here, who know about the local community," says Michelle Drew (B.B.A Accounting '96), vice president and director of audit at MCC. "It's really good for the company to encourage hiring people who are local, who know the state and who have been to UAA. They know Alaska."

Established in 1977, MCC has grown from a small accounting firm to the mid-size, Alaska-based company it is today and is the largest accounting firm in the state. The firm recruits heavily from the UAA accounting program, often hiring interns or entry-level staff from the Accounting Club's well-known program, Accounting Week, an event designed to connect students to potential employers within the industry.

Sitting at a long oval table in the MCC conference room are seven employees ranging from entry and mid-level to senior management and three of the firm's partners. The energy in the room is palpable and you get the sense that each of the men and women seated at the table are more than just co-workers, they're friends. Almost all of the seven are born and raised Alaskans with unique stories that landed them jobs at MCC, but the one thing they all have in common is a passion for accounting and their alma mater, UAA.

"It was a local university with a very good reputation," said James Doughty (B.B.A Accounting '06), an audit manager at the firm. "The accounting department was good, plus you knew you'd get a good job after you graduated."

Tax staff Danielle Weaver (B.B.A Accounting '09) jumps in explaining she had originally started her college career at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, but soon realized the high cost of tuition was more than she was willing to pay for her out-of-state college experience.

"I guess what was nice was that UAA was affordable," says Danielle. "Whereas if I kept going where I was before, I'd have graduated with large loan payments."

Tax senior manager, Josh McIntyre's (B.B.A Accounting '02) story follows a similar route. He says it wasn't until after he moved back to Alaska and was introduced to accounting professor Lynn Koshiyama that he even considered a degree in accounting.

Eric Campbell (B.B.A Accounting '97) and Michelle Drew, both audit vice presidents and partners at MCC, and consulting manager Mollie Morrison (B.B.A. Accounting/Information Systems '03), were non-traditional students when they began their undergrad schooling at UAA. Each of them had various reasons for choosing UAA, from desiring a better job to convenience.

Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., Inc.

"I think UAA is a very friendly school for non-traditional students. I would imagine that some of the Lower-48 schools are traditionally getting people right out of high school and everything is geared towards that," says Mollie recalling her UAA experience. At the time, when she returned to school, she was balancing motherhood and taking community college classes. For her, attending UAA was the choice that made the most sense and where she felt most comfortable.

"UAA has a very diverse population of students and I really appreciated that," Mollie says. "I live out of town. Eagle River has classes including quite a few accounting classes, and so I think it was just a really friendly school for someone like myself to go to school."

Every person speaks highly of UAA, the Accounting Department, the professors they had and their experiences going through the program. They appreciate that UAA offers the benefits and opportunities of bigger universities but feel they received a lot more one-on-one time with professors.

"I think the accounting professors did a real good job at putting a real world spin on it, so you knew how to apply it," says James of his accounting classes. "There were some professors who had public accounting experience and other private corporate experience, and they were able to add to the textbook and not just teach you what the textbook says."

Josh adds he felt his professors were approachable and helped him with questions, providing guidance and support along the way.

"All of the interactions with the faculty and the university were really good, always positive, always helpful. I don't think I'd have had that same experience at another university."

According to the seven, UAA's accounting program is a major part of their success as public accountants and helped them tremendously when it came time to bridge the gap from student to professional. For that support they are grateful, and as alumni and MCC employees, they try to return the favor to current and future UAA accounting students.

Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., Inc.

"UAA does a really good job at soliciting feedback from the profession," Eric says. He often goes back to guest lecture and participates in Accounting Club functions like student socials and Accounting Week. "I get calls from the professors and we tell them areas that we'd like to see students be better at, and they do a good job at incorporating that."

He says 10 years ago the company noticed graduates they hired lacked skills in the computer program Excel. They spoke with the professors about incorporating the program into their curriculum, and they soon saw a vast improvement. Eric plugs UAA's Career Services, saying they do a great job at creating opportunities for students to make connections with businesses.

"We actually recruit at 10 different colleges and our career services is one of the best we've seen as far as organizing the students, having everything complete and organized with all the companies," says Eric.

Which is eventually how most of the seven found their way to MCC. At some point or another they were funneled through the Career Services office or made connections through the Accounting Club's network.

Employees at MCC are genuinely happy and enjoy their work and clients, as well as each other's company. From the junior and senior staff to the partners, they keep the office dynamic light and friendly, which is important, because the group acknowledges that their jobs can sometimes be stressful.

"I just feel like this firm was really the best fit. Very professional, but relaxed," says Rosalia Patton, audit vice president and partner (B.A. Accounting, '01). "There was a definite level of camaraderie that you could kind of feel. Everyone seemed to really know one another and just enjoy working with each other."

Everyone in the room nods in agreement and the general consensus is that the work environment at MCC is relaxed but professional. MCC offers their employees a lot, boasting on their website of enticing benefit packages, four to six weeks of paid vacation and incentives for successfully referring potential new employees. From the outside looking in, MCC seems like a great place to work, and despite the stress of dealing with client deadlines and daily work, the employees are happy to come to the office every day.

"This job is a very demanding profession, so you need a lot of people to help you grow and you want them to be interested in your success, " says James. "I felt like that was the case here."

The seven UAA accounting alumni represent a diverse group and are proud to call themselves Seawolves. MCC is a company that is invested in UAA and continuing to support the university through participation in the Accounting Club, offering internships and ultimately hiring students once they graduate.

"Our program's just as good," says James, "if not better than any of the accounting programs we've recruited from."

The group murmurs in agreement and it is easy to see through the journeys of these seven graduates that UAA's accounting program offers students a well-rounded education with the building blocks to create a successful career.

To learn more about Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., Inc. visit

Creative Commons License "Community Spotlight: Mikunda, Cottrell & Co. Inc." is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.