Celebrating 15 Years of the EY Business Careers Awareness Program
June 3, 2019
Launched to increase diversity within the accounting profession
When Ron Butler ’91 BSBA (Accounting), Arizona Managing Partner at EY, comes back to Eller to talk to students, “driven,” “motivated” and “opportunity” are his constant refrain.
With good reason. Growing up in San Manuel, Arizona, Butler had minimal exposure to life after high school or outside of the mines. As a teenager, he was fortunate to land an office job with the mining company where his father worked—Magma Copper, which eventually awarded him a college scholarship. He was the first person in his family to go to college.
And it changed the course of his life, connecting him to a profession he loves— accounting—and paving the way toward his successful career in public accounting, starting with KPMG in 1992 and joining EY almost 25 years ago. In 2004, he became a partner, and in 2008 he was named managing partner of the Phoenix office.
To Butler, another point of pride is the program he started at Eller in 2004—the Accounting Careers Awareness Program whose name was later changed to the Business Careers Awareness Program (BCAP) and whose mission is to expose minority students with a similar background as his to college, to accounting and to the business world in general. The program is funded by the EY Foundation, making it free to students to attend.
Enrollment in the week-long program has grown 80 percent over the last 15 years. In 2018, the program included 36 students from 25 different high schools and 85 percent of these students were underrepresented minorities. The program takes rising high school seniors through team-building exercises, networking opportunities, personalized panel discussions and even includes a trip to the EY Phoenix office. All the while, the students attend college-level business classes taught by Eller professors preparing them to compete in a case competition at the end of the week. The program has become so popular and competitive that a one-day BCAP experience was launched a few years ago for those who aren’t accepted into the longer program.
“The visit to EY’s Phoenix office is particularly impressive for the students,” says Katie Maxwell, associate director of the School of Accountancy, senior lecturer of accounting and BCAP program coordinator. “This is a multinational company with billions of dollars in revenue and clients like Apple, Google, Amazon, Southwest Airlines and FedEx. It’s like another world for some of the students.”
But a world that, through BCAP, can be attainable. Of the nearly 500 students BCAP has reached since its inception, many have gone on to college, and of those that have attended the University of Arizona, 29 percent have majored in accounting. Many of these students have started their professional careers at EY.
And BCAP participants have learned another important skill: giving back. Seventy percent of the student assistants who help run BCAP each year went through the program themselves when they were in high school. Sixty-seven percent of those have gone on to start their careers at EY.
“There’s not another program like this in the United States,” says Butler. “I could not be happier with its evolution and impact. BCAP’s success has been achieved through the hard work of Eller professionals and students. It makes me proud to be an Eller graduate and EY professional.”