MAC Alum Kyle Rae ’11 Combines His Passion for Sports and Accounting Into a Dream Career – North Carolina State University | Hot Mobile Press

In another life, Kyle Rae (MAC ’11) could have been a dentist. Instead, he studied accounting, and accounting paved the way to a dream career as an athletics director.

The journey to his current position as Associate Athletic Director of Finance at Towson University began at Furman University, where he realized that an Accounting degree would give him a rare degree of flexibility and freedom to shape his career. “I immediately liked the fact that accounting is a numbers game with concrete answers,” he recalls. “But what surprised me was that it feels like investigative work. You can’t just come up with an answer. You need to know how you got there and how your conclusion fits into the bigger picture. This process fascinated me.”

A Wilmington native, he was thrilled to discover the Jenkins Master of Accounting scholarship program in his home state at NC State’s Poole College of Management. Looking back, he can identify countless seeds planted during classes and interactions with professors and classmates that later germinated into useful knowledge. “In many cases, it has taken me five years to see why it is so important for me to learn a particular planning system or concept of finance,” he says.

Nearly two years after graduating, Rae built his basic accounting skills in the accounting department of Johnson Lambert, the company that partially funded his MAC degree as a company-sponsored scholarship. While he remains grateful for the opportunity to break into the field, he realized that auditing was not his long-term goal. As he began exploring other ideas, a mentor advised him to outline five things he wanted to do and five things his education and work experience made him qualified to do. Putting both columns together, he concluded that as a former Furman football player and lifelong sports enthusiast, getting back into the world of collegiate athletics was a natural progression.

Through a network connection, Rae landed a position as an athletics business manager at the College of William and Mary. “I immediately felt like I was destined to do this,” he recalls. Every day looked different. When not involved in budgeting, planning, financial analysis, and travel logistics, he has served as an online streaming broadcaster for several women’s sports teams.

A few years later, he jumped at the opportunity to work at the University of Texas at Austin, which housed the largest athletic department in the country. There his role began to evolve from accounting to financial analysis, which he sees as two sides of the same coin. “To me, accounting tells the story of the past, while finance tells the story of where we want to be in the future and how we’re going to get there,” he says.

“To me, accounting tells the story of the past, while finance tells the story of where we want to be in the future and how we are going to get there.

After a stint at Under Armor, which he credited with helping him hone his skills as a financial analyst, Rae accepted a position as Associate Athletic Director of Finance at Towson University, where he was responsible for finance operations from 19 Athletics teams is responsible. While involved in some aspects of revenue generation, his day-to-day operations are primarily focused on budgeting, forecasting and ticket sales. In recent years, his ability to analyze data, organize it into a digestible format and make managerial decisions has propelled his success in this role.

Rae also serves in an athletic oversight role for the women’s gymnastics team, giving him a behind-the-scenes look at the impact of his decisions. Without a doubt, having to make budget cuts or turn down a request is the hardest part of the job. “I know how hard our athletes work, so I do everything I can to find creative alternatives rather than shutting down the conversation when something isn’t possible,” he says.

But leadership challenges have yet to dampen Rae’s enthusiasm for his job. “For me, there is nothing better than being in an environment where colleagues are passionate about excellence in sport,” he recognized.

“For me there is nothing better than being in an environment where colleagues are passionate about excellence in sport.

In the future, he aspires to become the athletics director of a Division 1 program. “In the meantime, I’ll continue to leverage the network and skills I’ve picked up on my journey,” he says. “I’m fortunate to have this accounting experience from NC State to form the foundation of everything I do. I’m confident it will continue to help me get where I want to go.”

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