Black History Month Feature: Yousdad Celne

Yousdad Celne
PwC US Associate

For Black History Month, get to know some black accountants from the auditing profession. Meet Yousdad Celne, Associate at PwC US.

Black History Month

What led you to choose a career in accounting?

My parents are Haitian immigrants and neither of them had an opportunity to attend college. With little English and barely any education, I saw how hard my parents struggled to budget and manage expenses — but tried their best to teach us how, so I understood the value of education at a very young age. I really liked my first accounting class in high school, so I joined Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) where we participated against other schools in accounting competitions. This led me to take accounting courses at my local community college. Learning how to analyze numbers had a significant impact in my life. I was not only able to leverage what I learned to teach my parents how to properly budget, but a new world of finance opened up for me.

What does diversity in the financial reporting profession mean to you?

It means having diverse representation in the preparation, analysis and communication of financial information, bringing together a range of perspectives to contribute to thorough and holistic financial analysis. In my opinion, bringing together various viewpoints and opinions helps address potential biases, enhances decision-making, reduces groupthink and cultivates a more inclusive financial reporting work environment. Fostering diversity in the financial reporting profession can also advance equity and opportunity. Based on my experience so far, clients have unique needs and goals, and having employees who understand their experiences fosters trust and can build strong client relationships, growing the financial industry and helping us serve more communities.

Fostering diversity in the financial reporting profession can also advance equity and opportunity.

We’re currently facing an accounting talent pipeline shortage. What advice would you give to Black students interested in a career in accounting?

As a recent accounting graduate, I would urge African American students to continue the journey.

  • Join organizations that support people pursuing a career in accounting. For me, being part of NABA in college and continuing to be a part of the organization as a professional has provided me with a variety of resources and support.
  • Find a mentor to proactively meet with regularly. Having mentors throughout college allowed me to network and provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
  • Seek active roles or partake in case competitions. There are many opportunities in the industry that can give you the skills needed to help you become an effective accountant.

Increasing diversity and inclusion also improves audit quality. Can you share any insight into why diverse voices are so important in this workforce?

To me, diverse voices in the workplace bring varied perspectives, enrich discussions and foster innovation. I think they help challenge biases, encourage understanding and cultivate a more inclusive society by reflecting on the complexities of human experiences. We may all be accountants, but we each have our own individual story and bring something unique to the table. In my opinion, when we represent the community and our clients, we can communicate effectively and understand their values, wants and needs.

We may all be accountants, but we each have our own individual story and bring something unique to the table.

How does PwC prioritize diversity in the workplace?

Based on my experience at the firm, PwC prioritizes diversity in the workplace through their commitment to equity and inclusion both inside the firm and in our communities. I’ve been able to see this firsthand by being a part of Thrive, PwC’s two-year new joiner program. I attended workshops, participated in small group coaching sessions, and received real-time feedback and mentorship. Further, PwC offers digital badges we can earn through learning and applying knowledge and skills. The firm’s Inclusive Mindset Badge empowers us to work in small groups to learn more about cultural diversity, understand unconscious biases, apply techniques to encourage belonging and learn how to improve leadership skills through active allyship. These opportunities help to continue building on PwC’s values and culture of belonging.

Do you have any programs you’d like to highlight that PwC offers for new students thinking about a career in accounting?

PwC offers several programs for new students thinking about a career in accounting, like Destination CPA, which helps students build lasting relationships, explore PwC, and understand the versatility of a CPA license and career. Before joining PwC full time, I was an Advance intern focused on Trust Solutions and I was able to develop my digital skills and business acumen through experiential training and client experiences. As an intern, I worked closely with PwC professionals to gain practical skills and exposure to real-world projects. I helped assess financial statements and internal controls and learned how to follow accounting standards. I encourage students to look into these and other opportunities or reach out to their school’s accounting department if they’re interested in pursuing an accounting career.