Hometown: Parsippany, New Jersey
Career: Certified Public Accountant, Senior Associate in Health Industries at PwC
Seton Hall Stats: Accounting and information technology management double major; The Stillman Exchange (student newspaper); Seton Hall Pep Band; Student Government Association; Blue Crew Tour Guide; founder of the Food Recovery Network (Seton Hall chapter); graduate of the Gerald P. Buccino Leadership program.
In The Lead: Thanks for taking the time with us, Andrew. Can you describe your current position at PwC?
Andrew Aguilera: Happy to participate! I am currently a senior associate in Health Industries. I spend most of my time auditing a large, public, multinational pharmaceutical client, but I also audit small, non-public biotech companies.
ITL: What attracted you to the accounting field? Is the practice of accounting in health care different than other industries?
AG: It may sound cliche, but accounting is the foundation of business, and the most universal. I knew accounting would be a challenging and rewarding area for me to start my career.
Accounting in health care is different as you may be auditing not-for-profit entities, such as hospitals and foundations. You may also audit pharmaceutical clients, which may involve gross-to-net accounting that is specific to the pharmaceutical industry.
ITL: How did the Buccino leadership program prepare you to lead after graduation?
AG: The Buccino leadership program placed me in challenging and "uncomfortable" environments, where I was forced to think on my feet and find solutions, even when the path was not always clear. It also developed my networking skills and my understanding of how to work with others. Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the leadership program has been my confidence. From the moment I began at PwC, I have always felt confident in my ability to find solutions and find opportunities to lead the team despite being new at the firm.
ITL: Is there a moment or an activity that sticks out as being a turning point in your leadership development at Seton Hall?
AG: During my freshman year, I had a turning point in my leadership development. My parents were blue-collar workers, operating a sandwich shop for 30+ years, and growing up in a family business, I learned the challenges of owning a business. However, I did not have a great understanding of corporate business. Starting in the program with other individuals who were excellent leaders and had parents/family in business, I lacked confidence to speak up and participate in the leadership courses. Through the peer 360 feedback, it was evident that my peers were recognizing the same trend. Over the remainder of the year, I gradually put the feedback into action and to realize my leadership potential, which gave me the confidence to lead others.
ITL: What specific skills allow you to be successful in your position at PwC?
AG: Through the leadership program, I learned that care, flexibility, adaptability, and problem solving are the four most important skills in being successful, not only at PwC, but at any profession. While I am continuously developing these skills, they have certainly placed me into successful positions at PwC.
ITL: What leadership skills do you find that recent graduates often don’t have but need to be successful?
AG: Problem solving continues to be the recurring skill that recent graduates need, but don’t often have. We are often taught through our many years of schoolwork that there is always a definitive answer. However, in the workplace, the answer may not always be clear and having problem-solving skills allows one to thrive in positions of discomfort and to think critically.
ITL: What advice would you have given your younger self at Seton Hall?
AG: I would tell myself to remain open to opportunities, since you do not know where they will take you. I never thought that I would be in a position today where I have learned so much about health industries, traveled around the world and met so many distinguished individuals in the first few years of my career.
Aguilera was a star while at Seton Hall. Read about his undergraduate achievements and watch his video here.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of In the Lead magazine, from The Stillman School of Business and its Business Leadership Center. The bi-annual magazine focuses on leadership perspectives from the field of health care, with content that is curated from leaders across the industry who share lessons learned from real-world experiences.