I wanted to be a doctor for most of my childhood. Then, during my senior year in high school, on a whim I took an elective class, Introduction to Accounting, held during the final period of the day. After long days of AP biology and chemistry, the accounting class came as a relief. Over the 17 years since, I have pursued a career in accounting that has taken me from the Big Four, into industry, and on to my current role as a managing director of CFGI. I’ve followed an interest in technical accounting and have been guided by mentors who have shared their knowledge and expertise.
A Path to Technical Accounting
I first learned about technical accounting during my first year at Price waterhouse Coopers. The senior associate on the team explained that gaining exposure to technical accounting issues was the best way to get ahead. When asked what technical accounting was, he said, “anything that does not have an easy answer.” I learned then that certain transactions were so complex or unusual that hours or even days of research were required to find the right answer. I was intrigued.
During my years with Price-waterhouse Coopers, I took this advice to heart. Many issues facing the industry, such as stock option backdating and SEC clarifications on revenue recognition and lease accounting, posed the risk of restatement. There was a sense of urgency and an opportunity for anyone on our audit team, regardless of hierarchy, to get to the right answer first. I enjoyed the friendly competitiveness and the long nights pouring over interpretive guidance.
When I eventually left Price-waterhouse Coopers, I was fortunate to land a position serving under a controller who trusted me with many aspects of several acquisitions. I gained an appreciation for the havoc that these transactions create for a controllership group already burdened with monthly close cycles, system implementations, and myriad other competing initiatives.
Through my experience working in industry, I can relate to CFOs and controllers who do not have the internal expertise or capacity to take on unusual and complex transactions.
The Best of Both Worlds
Six years into my career, I was at a turning point. For all the things I loved about accounting, there was an equal number that I did not care for. In the early stages of my career, there was a certain level of excitement in being part of a Big Four accounting firm; the depth of experience and knowledge I gained was something I couldn’t really obtain anywhere else.
I decided my ideal role would combine what I considered to be the best aspects of public accounting and industry, and let me work closely with accounting teams to tackle their most complex and important accounting projects. I found that role with CFGI, an accounting advisory firm that helps companies navigate a range of complex accounting and finance business scenarios. Rather than provide audit services, I work alongside clients’ internal staff to provide them with much-needed technical expertise.
On a daily basis, I help clients with the accounting for transactions such as debt and equity financings, revenue recognition, stock-based compensation, business combinations, and derivative trading. Through the mentorship and guidance of the partners I’ve worked closely with, I’ve had the opportunity to develop expertise on various subjects. CFGI has offered me the opportunity to gain exposure to complex and exciting proj ects, such as IPOs; the opportunity to develop subject matter expertise in hot areas, including ASC 606; and a focus on work-life balance. Although my colleagues have a wide range of personalities, common traits include a persevering spirit, a collaborative mindset, and the ability to be energized by challenges and motivated to find solutions.
Through my experience working in industry, I can relate to CFOs and controllers who do not have the internal expertise or capacity to take on unusual and complex transactions. Often it is simply not efficient to pull internal staff from their primary role to learn how to account for a transaction they may never see again. Being the trusted resource that they turn to in those situations, whether for a 15-minute sanity check or a fully staffed six-month project, is the most gratifying part of my job.