Alumni Profile: Christine Le
Hoang Anh “Christine” Le graduated from the Maine Business School with a degree in Accounting in 2017. Le, an Honors College student, was named the Outstanding International Student in the Maine Business School and received the Academic Achievement in Accounting Award the year of her graduation. At UMaine she held a position in Student Government, served as a resident assistant, was a member of All Maine Women, and was an instructor assistant in accounting.
Today, Le lives in the San Francisco Bay area and works as a senior tax associate at KPMG. She also publishes a travel blog.
You grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam. Why did you choose to pursue your degree at the University of Maine?
I came to the United States by myself at the age of 17 and studied at Thornton Academy in Saco. Maine has always felt like a second home to me. At the end of my high school senior year, I debated between accepting a full scholarship from the University of Maine and another top liberal arts college. My high school guidance counselor, Steve Turgeon, advised me that the University of Maine would enable me to have more choices of majors and more job/internship opportunities. He was absolutely right!
At UMaine I switched my major seamlessly halfway through the first semester. I got a finance administration job on campus the second semester, and secured my first internship the summer after my freshman year!
Why study accounting?
My first accounting class was a prerequisite for my original major – Economics. I was inspired by my first accounting professor, Dr. Henri Akono, and realized that an accounting major could open doors to so many opportunities in different fields. After some in-depth research on the job market, I decided to switch my major to accounting. I have never regretted it.
How did the Maine Business School and the Honors College prepare you for your career?
I am very thankful for the mentorship program at the Maine Business School. During my first year, I was connected with an alumna who was a manager at KPMG. She helped forward my resume to the KPMG Leadership Program, which enabled me to be interviewed by a KPMG partner and secure a tax internship in Boston.
With its strong emphasis on discussion-based learning, the Honors College provided me with a great environment to grow. I was grateful that the Honors College enabled me to fulfill my passion for writing by allowing me the opportunity to write a novel for my thesis: “A Creative Thesis: The Me You Don’t Know.”
How did your internship at KPMG turn into full-time employment in California?
After my internship in my junior year, I received an offer to return to KPMG Boston as a Tax Associate in Business Tax Services. After one year, I took a global assignment to go to KPMG Toronto, Canada as an International Tax Specialist. At the end of my assignment, there was an opening position in KPMG Silicon Valley Office. This position offered me an opportunity to work on exciting projects in the warmer weather.
Tell us about your job. What do you do as an accountant for KPMG? What does a typical day look like for you?
My job on the KPMG International Tax team is to help advise multinational companies on business and tax planning decisions. This includes assisting clients in anticipating and understanding their potential outcomes. There is not a typical day because different consulting projects would come with different responsibilities. There are days that I would work on Excel models illustrating the effects of tax reforms while others I would be assisting audit teams with reviewing the financial reporting of tax implications from a client’s global operations and transactions.
Tell us about Luxury Under Budget. What prompted you to start this blog and what are your goals?
I am a planner as much as I am a traveler. Before every trip, I research accommodations and activities at the destination and develop a thorough itinerary. On my most recent trip to Cancun, I was utterly disappointed while checking in at a 4-star hotel with an 8.5 rating on Bookings.com, only to find out that it was a moldy and dated building! That happened to me before in Europe, and I realized that the reviews on many booking platforms are unreliable. Despite my meticulous planning, there were always those “wish I had known” moments. As a result, I started LuxuryUnderBudget.com to share my experiences with the goal of helping others spend less for more and maximize the value of their time and money.
You clearly have a passion for travel. Where does this come from?
I have always had a passion for languages, cultures, and cuisines. I was born in Ukraine. When I was two my parents brought me back to Vietnam. Since middle school, I have always dreamed of studying abroad. I was eager to explore the world when I got a scholarship from Thornton Academy to come to the U.S. for high school. By my junior year at the University of Maine, I had completed most of my coursework. Instead of graduating early, I chose to study abroad in England to broaden my college experience.
What advice would you give other MBS undergraduate students as they make the journey through college?
When you sit for an interview later in life, it is your story that most likely will get you the job, not just your GPA or the bullet points on your resume. So my advice is to take the time to build your own story while you work hard for a good GPA. There are so many opportunities and resources at UMaine that you can and should take advantage of. Join a club, work a campus job, or sign up for a competition. Make a note of how you overcome the challenges at your first internship or how you rise to leadership in an organization. Create your own story and get ready to tell it!
Name: Hoang Anh “Christine” Le
Class of 2017
International student from Hanoi, Vietnam