Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cameron School of Business 2016 Outstanding Alumni

Strong work ethics, integrity and commitment to lifelong learning are just a few qualities
shared by Charles Craft ’79, David Pirrung ’90 and Maurice Smith ’79, this year’s Cameron 
School of Business Outstanding Alumni.

Charles Craft
Craft is a partner at RSM US LLP (RSM), the largest provider in the nation of audit, tax and financial services with a focus on the middle market. Pirrung is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of IAT Insurance Group, a property and casualty organization headquartered in Raleigh. Smith is the president and CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU), a cooperative serving the financial needs of those affiliated with local governments in North Carolina.

Craft, a Wilmington native, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and became a CPA in 1981.  He continued to accrue decades of experience in the industry, including ten years with a large regional firm. Craft ultimately became a founder and stockholder of Lanier, Whaley, Craft & Co. until they joined with RSM US LLP in 2013, where he now serves as a partner and CPA. Along with the leadership he currently provides the Wilmington tax practice, Craft serves on several boards, including the Executive Advisory Board of the Cameron School of Business and the MSA Advisory Committee at UNCW.

Craft credits his success to family, and to surrounding himself with people who challenge him to grow. "Seeing people around me succeed is part of success," he said.

David Pirrung
Like many, Pirrung took a more winding road before he ultimately settled on a school and a major. Originally from Pennsylvania, Pirrung first spent a year on a scholarship at Rochester Institute of Technology as a physics major, and then another year at community college. He arrived in Wilmington in the summer of 1988 to attend summer school, said Pirrung, “in a pick-up truck with a motorcycle strapped to the back.”

Pirrung said it was the magnetism of the faculty that got him really interested in school for the first time. Realizing he wanted to continue his education at UNCW, he worked first in real estate to his establish North Carolina residency, then returned to campus the following spring. He continued to work full-time in real estate while taking a full course load until he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. Not long after graduation he joined Ernst & Young in Raleigh, and was soon promoted to senior manager. He moved to a CFO position at a start-up insurance company, and ultimately landed at IAT Insurance, a global organization with approximately one billion of premiums written annually. Pirrung was named the CFO in 2005.

“Make yourself the expert,” he suggests, particularly to recent graduates transitioning to the business world.

Maurice Smith
Smith’s work ethic began with his family, and advice his father that he took to heart: “Nobody in the room better outwork you.”

Smith grew up on a small farm in Southport. Along with the value of hard work, he knew from an early age that he wanted to go into banking. When it became time to gain his secondary education to help fulfill that goal, he knew that as his parents' only son, he would need to go to college close to home so he could return to work on the farm on weekends. For this reason, UNCW fit the bill.

In 1979 Smith earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and upon graduation began his career with the State Employees Credit Union. He served in a variety of roles until 1992 when he joined LGFCU as executive vice president. In 1999 he was promoted to president.

His education did not end with UNCW. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the North Carolina Central University School of law and is licensed to practice in North Carolina, the District of Columbia and before the United States Supreme Court. He is also a North Carolina Certified Superior Court Mediator. Smith serves on numerous boards, including the Board of Trustees at UNCW.

His sage advice could apply to anyone: “Learn everything.”

-- Kimberly Falkenhagen

These award recipients will be featured in UNCW Magazine's next issue, coming out in July.

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