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Alumnus Steven Bruns Goes From Counting Notes to Counting Dollars


WEST WINDSOR –For alumnus Steven Bruns ’11 (Business), parlaying a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance to a career at one of the world’s largest accounting firms might have seemed like he was marching to a whole new beat. But, he says, nothing could be farther from the truth.

"In classical percussion, you deal with a lot of numbers and counting. It’s a quantitative field," Bruns said. "It was just a matter of translating that to calculus, math, and accounting. That side of my brain was already working from classical percussion."

And the transformation began at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), where after three semesters, Bruns was on his way to earning an MBA in Professional Accounting and passing the CPA exam. It’s a formula that has worked well: he is now an associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a Big 4 accounting firm and one of the world’s foremost professional services companies, with offices in 776 cities across 159 countries.

Bruns, a former Robbinsville resident and a 2004 graduate of Lawrenceville High School, initially headed to State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase College, where in 2008 he earned his bachelor’s degree in Music Performance.  Bruns then went to work in customer service in the fitness club industry, but by 2010, he felt that a career change was in order. That was when he decided to return to college at Mercer.

Steven Bruns

Mercer alumnus Steve Bruns, an associate in the Banking and Capital Markets Group with PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York.

"After speaking with family and friends, I decided I wanted to return to school to study business/accounting," Bruns said. "Mercer provided me with a great opportunity to take the first step to pursuing a new career. The education was top notch, while being very convenient and affordable."

Bruns said his first foray into a business education at Mercer was exploratory, as he wanted to take a few preliminary courses just to be certain he would enjoy his new career choice. He said that Accounting Professor Ken Horowitz and Economics Professor Laura Sosa were quite helpful, offering insight into career opportunities.

"I felt that all my professors were extremely helpful in teaching and guiding me," Bruns said. "They always took care to answer my questions and work extra with students."

It was also at Mercer, Bruns said, that he made an important connection that advanced his career: the Career and Transfer Services staff. They recommended that with his existing bachelor’s degree, that he should look into the MBA program in Professional Accounting at Rutgers University Business School. Bruns took their advice, and enrolled in business courses at Mercer in preparation for the Graduate Management Admission Test. A year later, he was a graduate student.

"I am very grateful to the career counseling department for introducing me to the (Rutgers) program," Bruns said. "They provided a lot of great resources, including a resume workshop and mock interview training. I wouldn’t have ever found the Rutgers program had it not been for the career counseling staff."

As an accountant and an Experience Associate in the Assurance Practice with PwC, Bruns works in the Banking and Capital Markets Group out of the New York City office.  His main job responsibility is working on teams to issue an independent third-party audit opinion on the financial statements and internal controls over financial reporting of both publicly traded and private companies. This requires verification of management’s assertions over financial reporting, ensuring compliance with accounting rules and regulations, and providing reasonable assurance that company’s information is not materially misstated.  His team's audit opinions are mainly used by investors, government regulators, and other companies doing business with its clients. Bruns' group deals with some of the nation’s largest banks, as well as broker-dealers and private equity funds.

Bruns credits Mercer with giving him a solid foundation in accounting and overall business skills, as well as providing him with the math and communications background required to succeed in his new career. He says that MCCC offers students the resources they need to succeed, and he recommends that they fully take advantage of all the college has to offer.

"The Mercer faculty and staff are more than willing to help students at all levels who show interest and ask questions – attitude is key," Bruns said. "MCCC is a great school and has a lot of opportunities to offer students, at a tremendous value."



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