2019 Best & Brightest: Robert Knight, Wake Forest University

Robert Knight

Wake Forest University School of Business

“I am a willing listener, constant thinker, and infinitely curious about the world.”

Hometown: Orlando, FL

High School: Olympia High School

Major: Accountancy

Favorite Business Course: ACC 221: Managerial Accounting

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Research Assistant;
  • Thomas Canace, Accounting Department Primary Teaching Assistant;
  • ACC 111: Introduction to Financial Accounting Resident Adviser;
  • Poteat & Huffman Residence Halls Data Entry Specialist;
  • University Advancement Student Budget Advisory Committee;
  • Board Member, Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity;
  • Member South Forest Area Council Men’s Club Volleyball
  • Treasurer, WFU Women’s Volleyball Practice Player
  • Samaritan’s Ministries Volunteer
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (Vita)
  • Volunteer TK Hearn Civic Responsibility
  • Dixon Hughes Goodman Scholar
  • Dean’s List

Where have you interned during your college career?

·        Unicorp National Developments (Orlando, FL): Finance & Accounting Intern

·        Dixon Hughes Goodman (Tampa, FL): Audit Intern

·        Pricewaterhouse Coopers (San Francisco, CA): Capital Markets & Accounting Advisory Services Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Pricewaterhouse Coopers (San Francisco, CA): Capital Markets & Accounting Advisory Services Associate

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I have most enjoyed the close connections and collaboration that take place between students and faculty. The small class size at Wake facilitates an environment that encourages collaboration between both students and faculty. I have benefitted from this greatly, through my time as a research assistant and teaching assistant. In addition to these roles, the personal examples and conversations that I have gleaned from faculty have proven invaluable as I continue to navigate the early stages of my career.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Throughout my time studying business, I have gained an immense amount of technical, experiential, and conceptual knowledge. Though these lessons have proved essential, the biggest lesson that I have gained from studying business is the importance of diverse perspectives in developing solutions to complex problems. In a group without diversity in experience, expertise, and judgment, it is highly likely that the solution created by this group will not be the most effective solution possible. Diversity in experience allows for problems to be thought about from several different frames of reference, leading to the most thorough and effective analysis of a problem. By teaming up individuals with unique thought and experiences, solutions can be crafted in such a way that far more alternatives and consequences are considered. Without diversity, problems are considered in a silo. Throughout my time studying business, I have learned through case studies and personal experience that diversity in experience creates the best opportunity for the optimal solution to be reached to solve businesses’ most complex problems.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Students looking to major in business should enter with the intention of finding their “why.” Though there is objective value in the study of business, it was not until I found my reason for studying it that I truly gained intrinsic value from the discipline. Business itself has a far smaller value than the value that we derive from it through our purpose, whether it be from a corporate social responsibility perspective or from a value delivery frame of mind. With that being said, I would encourage students to think deeply about the intrinsic value that they will derive from their own study and practice of business, and use this purpose to motivate and guide their endeavors.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The most surprising aspect of business school for me has been an extremely collaborative and interactive nature of the coursework. Coming into college, I anticipated more lecture and exam-style courses. However, through my time in business school, I have learned that the work requires teamwork and collaboration to be done well. This aspect of business school has enhanced my ability to operate as an effective member and has reinforced the important fact that diverse perspectives and ideas produce truly optimal finished products.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Anthropology. I would’ve chosen anthropology because it presents the rare opportunity for continuous learning and growth. Anthropology promotes adventure and discovery, two things that make life incredibly interesting and rewarding. Anthropological activities are aimed at fostering cultural exploration and understanding, which award people the chance to understand and appreciate one another. Learning about others through hands-on exploration is an extremely invigorating learning experience, and one that I would have loved to pursue had I not chosen a major in Accountancy.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My Introduction to Accounting professor, Dr. Kelton, inspired me to pursue business in college. Throughout the difficult course, Dr. Kelton continually reinforced the importance of business on the global landscape and the immense change that can be created by businesses. Not only this, but Dr. Kelton constantly conveyed her belief in me that I could succeed not only in the course but within the School of Business as a whole. She served as an advocate for me in several scenarios, and her support and passion for business are the reasons that I decided to pursue the Accounting major.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my role as a teaching assistant for the Accounting 111 course. This course is extremely challenging, and I love being able to help students work through the material and eventually master it. Not only this but as a TA I have been able to serve as a mentor to underclassmen as they begin to navigate the beginning of their coursework in the business school, as well as the early part of career exploration.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Julia Purdy. Julia is one of the most intelligent, hard-working, and driven individuals that I have encountered in college. She is unrelenting in her commitment to her coursework and her career. However, she will not hesitate to lend a hand to whoever may need it. She is always the most bubbly person in the room. However, she is somehow never domineering in her extraversion. Her personality draws excitement and inspiration out of others, creating an exciting and innovative collaborative environment. Julia’s brilliant balance of diligence and commitment to tasks, paired with her ability to bring others out of their shell to get the best ideas and engagement from them make her an incredibly admirable person, friend, and role model. Julia exemplifies what it means to be a professional, and free spirit, and her balance of the two is something that I admire and hope to emulate.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank my mom. Throughout my life, my mom has exemplified the work ethic that I have come to develop through my own work and studies. My mom somehow juggled caring for 4 kids and working, all while always having unlimited love and attention to give to those who demanded it from her. This type of commitment and stress was my mom’s ‘normal.’ Because of this role modeling, I assumed this level of commitment as well. My mom made me realize the importance of family, hard work, and the incredibly nuanced balance that can be achieved between the two. This has allowed me to pursue and flourish in my studies, career, and relationships with others. My success thus far in those three areas can be attributed entirely to my mother’s unrelenting work ethic and unwavering presence as a role model in my life.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The top two items on my bucket list are to have kids and to open a restaurant. I had an incredible childhood thanks to my parents and siblings, and I can’t wait to have kids of my own to experience that all over again. In terms of the restaurant, I love food and am very interested in design, and a restaurant requires the harmonious synthesis of these two elements. I think that both my desire to have kids and open a restaurant present incredibly challenging, yet rewarding endeavors. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to embark on both.

What are your hobbies? Outside of school and work, I am an avid cook and baker, as well as an athlete. I love playing sports every chance that I get, ranging from basketball to volleyball and everything in-between. When it comes to cooking, I love cooking after a long day of school or work to de-stress and clear my head, as well as treat myself to something delicious.

What made Robbie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Robbie is such a great guy. When you meet him, you think he’d be great to hang out with. A really interesting guy. Then you find out how bright he is, and you realize he’s also pretty humble. A guy you’d want to hang out with and he’s also brilliant? What a package! That’s Robbie.”

Cynthia Tessien
Professor of the Practice

“I had Robbie last year in ACC 237. He was a joy to have in the classroom. He was never afraid to ask questions and always brought positive energy to the class.  He is friendly, cheerful, and hardworking.”

I enjoyed having him a student, and he did very well.  He was a sophomore T.A. for ACC 111, which is something usually reserved for older students.  He was well thought of by his classmates and graduate students. I think he’s a great candidate for the award.”

Whitney L. Simpson, CPA
Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice



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