Her Eyes on the Goal

Accounting certificate graduate Manisha Gilliam is driven to be a CPA

Certificate Program in Accounting graduate Manisha Gilliam is ready for the next step in her accounting career: sitting for the Uniform CPA Examination® (CPA Exam) and becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Accounting certificate graduate Manisha Gilliam photo portrait

In 2013, Manisha earned her bachelor’s degree in economics with a business focus from Spelman College in Georgia.

“I knew I wanted to attend an historically Black college and university (HBCU) and decided on Spelman College,” she recalls. “Growing up, I had never seen so many people who looked like me wanting to go to college. I fell in love with the campus. I fell in love with the idea of attending an all-women’s liberal-arts college.”

After graduation, she returned home to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin her business career.

Entering the workforce, Manisha began deploying the basics of accounting at various temp gigs, including as an accounts payable (AP) specialist for the City of Oakland.

A temporary position with Oakland’s Fire and Prevention Bureau, another with a bank and a third at Uber, where she did AP and accounts receivable (AR) work, provided the stepping stones in Manisha’s accounting career, where she gained valuable knowledge and skills in:

  • facilitating general accounting operations (e.g., accounts payable and accounts receivable) and investigations of payment inquiries

  • reconciling account balances and bank statements and navigating a complex budget system

  • aggregating budgetary data into reports for senior leadership

  • processing invoices for payment and distribution

  • developing new budgets for a variety of stakeholders, including department heads, each fiscal year

Still, she was frustrated with not being offered the full-time job opportunity she had been hoping for. But that all changed with the Golden State Warriors.

In December 2016, her “pursuit of happiness moment” finally happened.

“I was fortunate enough to have finally started my career as a junior accountant with the Warriors,” says Manisha. And with that opportunity came access to a C-suite executive in finance who is recognized as one of a handful women executives in the NBA—Golden State Warriors’ former CFO and now Special Advisor Jennifer Cabalquinto.

Manisha credits Jennifer with jump–starting her thoughts to advance her accounting career.

“My decision to enroll in UC Berkeley Extension’s accounting program came about from a conversation I had with Jennifer,” recalls Manisha. “I used to meet with her once every three months. When I first started my career, she would always say, ‘What do you see for yourself?’”

What she saw for herself was a career working as a CPA. And the accounting certificate was going to guide her on this path.

Becoming a CPA: Manisha’s 3-Pointer

“I knew I didn’t want to be stagnant in my career or development,” Manisha says.

“Getting my CPA license is something that I have always wanted—but its need became apparent when I was working at Uber. I also knew I needed the credits for the license, but I didn’t want to get my master’s degree.”

That’s where our Certificate Program in Accounting came in.

“This program fit my work schedule and it was very accessible,” she says. “I enjoyed the classroom experience because it was fun to get to know my classmates and teachers. The students had so many different job backgrounds and the majority of them entered the certificate program to get the CPA license. The teachers were very helpful in answering questions that pertained to our goals.”

Three instructors stood out for Manisha:

  • Ehab Saad for his Financial Statement Analysis course: “In Financial Statement Analysis, we had to examine financial statements of a company of our choice and present our findings on whether or not the company was good.”

  • Suzanne Garrett for her Cost Accounting course: “Cost Accounting has prepared me in my studies for the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section of the CPA Exam and in my practice using cost accounting formulas such as First-In, First-Out (FIFO) and Last-In, First-Out (LIFO).”

  • Marjorie Bailey for her Advanced Accounting and Auditing and Attestation courses: “We were always given detailed advice on what to expect going into the CPA Exam, and knowing about this important topic will help me in my studies for the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section.”

And how has the program helped her career?

“Some of the coursework continues to help me in my daily work, but my main focus was to achieve the academic credits needed for the CPA license,” Manisha explains.

“I started the program after I was offered a full-time junior accountant position with the Warriors. After being with the Warriors for three years, I was promoted to a senior accountant position last year! While I am not sure if it had to do with the program, overall, I’m grateful.”

Even with her promotion, Manisha hasn’t taken her eye off of the goal.

“The accounting certificate program has helped me start my journey with the CPA Exam. I just got approved to sit for the exams, and I start studying this week. I’m pretty excited about it and nervous at the same time. I hear all the time about how hard the tests are, but I’m ready for the journey.”