Year of Graduation: 2004
Current Job Title: Senior Accounting Analyst, Best Buy Co., Inc. since September 2009
Former Job Title: Audit Manager, Grant Thornton LLP from June 2004 to September 2009
Please give a brief description of your current position and where you're working.
Currently I work at Best Buy corporate headquarters in Richfield, MN as a senior accounting analyst in the enterprise capabilities group and hold my Certified Public Accounting (C.P.A. license). I have been working at Best Buy since September 2009. In my current role, I am responsible for the budgeting/forecasting, accounting, and reporting of certain HR Reward programs that are offered to our corporate and retail employees. For example, my biggest responsibility is for our short-term and long-term incentive plans (i.e. bonuses). Previously, I worked for Grant Thornton ("GT") for over five years and I was a manager in the assurance (i.e. audit) department. I assisted in providing assurance to investors, owners, analysts, etc. that the financial statements of a company were free of material misstatement. In simple terms, I was an auditor and made sure things were done right! I am also attending the MBA Program (part time) at the University of Minnesota - Carlson School of Management.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
My career path since I graduated from CSB/SJU has been somewhat typical for an accounting major. I started in public accounting at GT in 2004 as an audit associate. Two years later, I was promoted to a senior associate and then three years later, I was promoted to manager. The progression in public accounting is very natural and as you gain experience and technical accounting knowledge, you are given more responsibilities and constantly challenged. After being promoted to a manager, I decided that I wanted to explore opportunities working within a company and being a part of their operations. As an auditor, you are always coming from the outside-in and I wanted a new perspective. I enjoy working for Best Buy and I have gained a whole new perspective on running a business especially in the retail industry.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Public accounting is a very demanding profession but it's also very rewarding. Busy season (i.e. January to April) requires you to work a lot of hours (typically 60-70 hours a week). However, in the summer and fall, you are rewarded with a much less stressful and very flexible schedule which means you can take vacation! As a young professional, I encourage you to work hard and even when times are stressful, remember that with determination and dedication, you will reap many rewards. Employers notice people who are willing to give it 110% so you will become a "hot commodity" once this is noticed. Public accounting is also a great place to start a career because of the vast amount of exposure to different companies. Since I worked on about 12-14 different clients throughout the year, I learned so much about business strategy, operations, finance, etc. that I would not have been able to learn by working in private industry accounting at one single company. The exposure to so many different companies allowed me to build a solid base of knowledge that has benefited me immensely as I made the switch from public accounting to private at Best Buy. By getting my MBA, I will also be expanding the breadth of my knowledge and experience. Education and technical expertise will advance you far in any type of accounting/finance role. This is something to focus on as you develop yourself as a professional.
What skills are important in your field?
As mentioned above, hard work and dedication are necessary in any type of accounting/finance position. The ability to organize, prioritize and communicate are also key. Since I am working on multiple projects with multiple managers/directors, there are things constantly coming up and it always requires me to be quick on my feet. Being able to prioritize and focus on the most demanding task allows me to be successful and responsive to the needs of my customers. The ability to communicate with all types of people is also important. Finally, teamwork is a most important piece of the puzzle. Every person on a team is critical. Without teamwork, our business could not succeed.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I was involved in the Accounting Club, CMA, St. Ben's Senate, and AKS. Being able to meet new people, prioritize my schedule with class and extracurricular activities, and contribute to the CSB/SJU community definitely helped propel me as a young professional. Staying involved and networking is a very important part of my career.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
Being able to meet new people every day and constantly learn new things is very rewarding. This is because I know I am growing my core base of knowledge which will make me an even more valuable resource in the future. The challenging opportunities I have gone through keep me on my toes and make me constantly grow professionally and personally.