Michael Johnston, MS ’99 has been named the 2021 Accounting Alumnus of the Year in the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business Department of Accounting. Johnston is an assurance partner in capital markets at EY in Munich, Germany.
“Michael is a strong and influential advocate for the UTSA accounting department,” said Sharad Asthana, chair of the Department of Accounting. “He served two terms as a member of our Accounting Advisory Board, mentored accounting students and was on the Kathleen Reymann Keil Memorial golf committee. He is respected for his technical skill as well as his dedication to the profession.”
“To say that I am pleased, honored and humbled to receive this award and to join past recipients, who I have long admired and respected, would be an understatement,” said Johnston, who was presented with the award virtually this month. “This is a tremendous honor for me.”
With over 30 years’ experience in the accounting industry, Johnston’s passion is public accounting. During his career he has worked over 20 years at Big Five firms EY and Arthur Andersen.
“After spending nine years in an industry accounting position, the life of public accounting really appealed to me from the beginning,” he said.
As an assurance partner he was responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of audit engagements, supervising engagement team members and maintaining client relationships. He retired from EY in Houston in September 2020 after nearly 18 years with the firm. Just last month, he began his new role in Germany.
“I’ve had the desire to go to work internationally all throughout my career,” said Johnston, whose work had previously led him to spend time in Brazil, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Johnston began his career in California working as an assistant controller after earning his bachelor’s in business administration. After his company relocated him to Texas, he realized that in order to advance professionally, he’d need to earn his CPA. He also felt that continuing his education would make him more marketable –so he enrolled in UTSA’s master of accountancy program.
“The importance of a good education can never be overstated,” said Johnston. “I got that here at UTSA. But equally as important, in my opinion, were the networking opportunities and resources that UTSA provided me,” he said.
“I came to UTSA with the idea I was going to put my head down and muscle through those 30 hours, because I was busy. I had a 2-year-old daughter, and I was working 40-50 hours a week.”
Fortunately for Johnston he didn’t follow those instincts. During one of his graduate classes he learned about the accounting honors organization Beta Alpha Psi, and he decided to get involved. Through Beta Alpha Psi’s networking opportunities, he landed his first public accounting job at Arthur Andersen.
“There is no one who can determine how good your education or career is going to be, except for you,” said Johnston. “It is what you put into it. I have the utmost gratitude for the opportunities I received at UTSA. Without the connections I made while attending UTSA, I venture to say that none of this would have been possible.”
The Outstanding Accounting Alumnus of the Year Award recognizes the accomplishments of UTSA accounting alumni. Selected by faculty and their peers, honorees are chosen for not only their professional accomplishments, but also their commitment and continued support to the department, college and university.