Tom Coley ('91 and '98) serves as a Tax Partner in Grant Thornton’s Charlotte office. He was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award of the Belk College of Business in 2017.
When did you graduate from UNC Charlotte and what were your majors?
I graduated in 1991 with a bachelor of science in Business Administration and in 1998 with a bachelor of science in Accounting.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
I chose UNC Charlotte and the Belk College of Business for its reputation of having excellent faculty and because of its proximity to one of the largest business centers in the Southeast.
What kinds of opportunities did you have at UNC Charlotte?
I participated in the Cooperative Education Program. It allowed me to see what the real business world was like and provided me a greater ability to apply classroom principles. I was also a member in the Accounting honors fraternity Beta Alpha Psi. It was useful in gaining exposure to and learning more about the industry in which I now work. Beta Alpha Psi provided networking and community service experiences with professionals in the industry.
What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
The accessibility of faculty outside of the classroom was very helpful. The professors were always willing to provide helpful industry insight and career advice.
What was your first job after graduation?
I was a materials buyer for General Electric after earning my Business Administration degree and I was a tax associate for Arthur Andersen after earning my Accounting degree.
What is your current role?
I'm a Tax Partner at Grant Thornton.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
Beyond the business and accounting fundamentals, I learned to be prepared for change and to adapt when life takes us down paths that are different than the ones for which we had planned.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
My advice: Develop and maintain strong relationships with the faculty, students and business contacts. These relationships will be extremely valuable throughout your career.
What is the importance of giving back to you?
UNC Charlotte and the Belk College of Business provided me with a skill set and foundation that has allowed me to enjoy a wonderful career. It has been gratifying for me to participate in the future of the Belk College through service on the Accounting Advisory Board and assisting with my firm’s fundraising efforts for the Belk College of Business and the Turner School of Accountancy.