Accounting isn’t just debits and credits; it’s a dynamic profession that is constantly changing. In this episode, hear Poole College graduate and Ernst & Young Senior Partner Christine Holmes (’88) and Professor Kathy Krawczyk discuss what drew them to accounting and how the industry has changed over their careers.
Christine Holmes (’88) is a senior partner at EY.
Kathy Krawczyk is a Department Head and Dixon Hughes Goodman Professor of Accounting in the Poole College of Management.
Jenny Hammond: I’m really excited about our conversation today, I’m even more excited that we have two women in the accounting industry to talk about all good things about accounting, but I’d love to find out a little bit more about how you each got here.
And so, Kathy, maybe you could give us a little bit of a 30,000-foot view. You started on the firm side, but then you migrated over to teaching and higher ed. So tell us what drew you over to higher ed and perhaps kind of what you’ve loved most about being in this role.
Kathy Krawczyk: Well, I, I actually started in accounting because I was good in math, in high school, you know? And it seemed like an appealing option. And nowadays, everybody laughs because you don’t need to be good at math to be an accountant, you need to be much better in terms of people. But I, you know, I took a class in high school in accounting and because it fit into my schedule and ended up enjoying it a lot and enjoyed my classes in college, went into public accounting in St. Louis. and really enjoyed the time.
I ended up being the most experienced woman in my department of 50 people after four years. And so there’s not a lot of mentoring from above and I, and my good friends basically wandered off and went and took other jobs. So it kind of left me solo in there, and I never thought I would actually take the route of going into academia at all when I first graduated. Uh, as a matter of fact, I had an old boyfriend who had our lives planned and he was going to go be the, you know, college professor. We both needed to do that. And I’m like, no, no, I’m going to be partnering an accounting firm, which has kind of funny now.
Jenny: Happens, right? Yeah.
Kathy: It does kind of happen. So I, I think that kind of stayed in the back of my mind and, you know, four years in, when I decided it was time to do something a little different, I actually applied for a job at one of the colleges around the St. Louis area and got a job and taught there for a couple of years and really, really, really enjoyed it and decided to go back to school and get my PhD and then go into academics. So that’s why I’m where I am right now.
Jenny: What do you love most about being in this role?
Kathy: I love the student interaction. I really do. You know, the, we have to part of our job is the teaching, the research and the service and the teaching aspects of it are just so much fun for me. I am currently teaching grad students. So I, you know, you get a whole another level up there.
We’re going to talk a lot about what it takes to succeed in a profession. And I think being able to give that to students, being able to actually provide them with some training in those skills and some working on those skills while they’re here in a pretty low-cost environment is, is a lot of appeal to it.
Jenny: Christine, you actually graduated from the program here in Poole college. What drew you to accounting. You’ve had the opportunity when I was reviewing all of your portfolio and your, and your bio information for this podcast, you’ve been able to do a couple of different things in your time already in your career. What have you loved most about the profession so far?
Christine Holmes: So those, those are great questions, Jenny, and it’s funny, Kathy and I have known each other for years and, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with Kathy, since I’ve been out of Poole. So it’s exciting for me to be here with her today. what drew me to accounting? Not dissimilar from Kathy in high school.
It wasn’t a love of math, but I took an accounting class and I really thought this was a great opportunity. Career-wise because I felt accounting was a transferable skill. Uh, you know, no matter where I ended up living, wherever my life took me, I would be able to find work. And that was something that was important to me.
But as I reflect back on that, it was really a bookkeeping class. And when I came to NC state and studied accounting, that’s when I really became aware of what the opportunities were in accounting and how diverse that was. I mean, it’s a fantastic base to really any career in business. In fact, I, I often counsel and mentor young people to say, you know, there’s nothing that will ever hurt you.
If you study accounting, it is a great base. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to necessarily go to work in accounting, but it’s just a fantastic base for business. But from that, I was introduced to public accounting, which I knew nothing about ended up going to work for EY. And here I am, you know, over 30 years later, still incredibly happy in public accounting because of all of the diverse opportunities that that presented for me.
And you mentioned, you know, I’ve done a lot of different things in public accounting or with the Y. You know, I’ve had, I’ve had international rotations. I’ve worked in client direct, external client service. I’ve also been an internal client server. So a lot of different opportunities. I’ve done research for the firm.
I’ve written responses to accounting standards for the firm. So there’s a lot of different things, and it’s going to sound like I’m copying everything Kathy says, but the thing that I really love about public accounting is the opportunity to work with our young accountants as they come in, but also with our clients.
And, you know, in my role, I’ve had, I’ve had roles where I predominantly did research and I worked a lot by myself versus directly with our clients or external clients or with the accountants as they’re an auditor, as they’re developing in their careers. And what’s really kept me here is the opportunity to work with people, to really help them develop in their careers and mentor them and show them what all the opportunities are.
Kathy: Christine actually is able to work with students too, in the program. Remember the time that you were in our second life program, she came to my class virtually and discuss a case with the students a couple of different years in a row. So it was a lot of fun to have that interaction. She was in Amsterdam at the time.
Christine: It was really exciting.
Kathy: it wasn’t, it was a lot of fun getting her involved, like that.
Jenny: Well, and that’s the basis of what we love about Poole too, is engaging industry. So students have that real application. So that’s, that’s awesome. I’d love to just touch on a little bit, and I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time here, but I think it’s worthy of noting that if the, both of you have grown and taken on pretty substantial roles in your career and a fairly male dominated industry.
One, how did you do that? And two, what advice would you give to women, especially those that are in these fields that are typically dominated by male populations. I’m thinking along the lines of accounting, obviously technology is another one. Kathy, you touched on being kind of a mentor to students in class and Christine, you said that’s something you enjoy.
Do you give that type of specific feedback or kind of, you know, have a little sense of pride of knowing that, you know, you’ve, you’ve done so well in this industry and maybe, I mean, maybe that wasn’t something that you hadn’t necessarily expected?
Christine: It is something that I speak to the women at EY about a lot. I think our industry has changed dramatically in the time since I joined, there were very few women partners. And today we have a woman leading the U S firm, and she’s stepping down and where she, where she’s going to be followed by another woman to lead the US firms.
So very impressive. You know where we’ve come from in, in my tenure, in the business, you know, we have a woman leading our Japanese firm very, and I was in the, the Tokyo office for a while. And that would have been unheard of in 2007 when I was there. So really seeing a lot of change. And then that’s been incredibly intentional.
We have, at EY, we have really focused on inclusivity and trying to make our environment more flexible and inclusive to all people. Uh, and that has really benefited a lot of women in, in our practice. And, and I do talk about the things that I think make women successful. And the most important one.
And if I thought back to my younger self would be to be authentic. I think I spent too much of my early years trying to emulate the men in the practice, the male leaders, or the female leaders who, who had a style that was very different from my own. And what I realized was I really needed to be myself.
The reason EY hired me was because of who I was and what they thought I brought to the table, but I, I felt like I needed to emulate somebody else. And, and all I would say is just be as authentic as you can to yourself and what your passions are, because that’s why an employer hire you, and they want to see what you will bring to the company.
Kathy: I took a, I took an approach in public accounting, and even then when I moved into academics, of just being one of the guys, in effect, and it isn’t necessarily acting like a male. It is just working hard and doing what I do and not, you know, not causing any stir, just be one of the, of the people and interact well with the people that I work with.
So it was work, working hard and being just part of it, of the group, part of the making sure that I, that I fit in and that I was me. I agree with Christine, you’ve got to be yourself and be able to just, get along on your own merits. Uh, you know, I would hate for someone to tell me I was hired because I was a woman. I would like to be hired because I was the best person for the job.
And that’s, you know, it’s, it’s something that I think our young women students these days don’t understand how different it was when Christine and I first started. And you probably started after I did, but when we started in the profession, it was very, very male dominated, you’re right. And so it was just be the best you can be and find a good mentor.
You know, it’s, I, I especially noticed that here in academics, you know, getting a good mentor and good support, I never thought that I would, that I would fail here. It was always, there was support from our current Dean who was a, one of the more experienced assistant professors when I started, our department head was even though he was an old college coach, he was very much the you’re going to make it, and this is what you need to do. And so I had some good mentors along the way to do that.
I would say to our current students, as they’re going out to be open to ideas and to be open to change. And the profession has changed a lot, be open to learning, be open to advancement, just take the opportunities and run with them. And, you know, there’s so much out there and so much available.
And, you know, as Christine said, you don’t need, accounting gives you a lot of opportunities that are not even in just like accounting firms, but a lot of opportunities there be open to what you can, what, what interests you the most? You know, academics is me, public accounting is Christine might be owning a restaurant might be something else might be, but be open to what is of interest to you and combine that too, with what you got in terms of the drive and the knowledge.
Christine: Yeah, Kathy, that I think that’s such an important, piece of advice. I think so many times I’ve been speaking with, someone about an opportunity and the reaction was, well, I could never do that, or I don’t, I don’t think I have all the skills needed for that and I try to encourage people to, to be open to change or that challenge because you don’t really know what you can do until you try to do it. And with the right mentorship and support, you are going to be successful and people wouldn’t ask you your, your mentors and your supervisors, wouldn’t invite you to try a new opportunity if they didn’t think you had what it takes.
Kathy: And look at how much we have each changed in our careers. I mean, you know, started in public accounting. I moved into, you know, just teaching at a university, then going back to school and getting a PhD and moved up from professor to Mac director and to current department head, things I never would have expected to be doing when I first started into this. But it’s, they’ve all brought me a lot of satisfaction and you know, who knows what’s going to come next.
Christine: Yeah, and that’s a great point. It’s very hard to map out your career from day one. If you would have asked me when I graduated from NC state, where did I see myself in five years, 10 years, 15 years. I can tell you those answers were very different over my career. So you don’t plan this out, you know, things change, you change your mind about things.
I thought I was going to go back to school and get a master’s in health administration, and, and go and be the director of hospital. So, you know, you never know where your career’s going to take you. So you definitely want to set goals and think ahead, but be open to change, if something more interesting comes along.
Jenny: So tagging on that a little bit. This can be a dual question for both of you from a different lens, I guess, but Kathy thinking about what industry is coming to you and saying, these are the skills that we need, our graduates, our new employees to have. What, what are some of those skills that are being taught in the classroom right now? And why are they so critical for what is currently happening in the accounting world and what you foresee as changes in the future?
Kathy: Well, as I mentioned upfront, I got into this because I was good at math. And now we realized that it’s really a people field and you need a lot of skills other than just technical knowledge and math in order to succeed here. So I teach a research class. to grad students, which is great because the, the skills that we work on are the skills, the soft skills that I think they need out in practice, we do a lot of critical analysis and critical reasoning.
They have to be able to reach decisions based upon laws or standards or, or information that isn’t necessarily clear. They do a lot of group work and a lot of teamwork and a lot of leadership taking on leadership roles in it. They do a lot of analytics in our program, which is the wave of the future. I mean, you, you know, you talk about where we think the profession’s going to be.
It’s not just financial information that we’re dealing with anymore. It’s a lot of other information and we have the tools and the ability and the strengths and the skills to be able to analyze. And information. So I think that that’s really where we’re going to w what we see students needing is a lot of those soft skills. A lot of that analysis ability, a lot of that looking at information, not in details, but in bigger picture.
Christine: I would completely agree with you, Kathy. What I see in practice as more and more, we’re going to data analytics, looking at big data to try to innovate our audit procedures and to have a more holistic and deeper audit than we’ve ever been able to do before now, w we’ve come a long way from the days of sampling techniques. Let’s take a sample of 25 and, and come to a conclusion.
but the skills that have that make auditors very successful are absolutely people skills you’re, you’re dealing with your clients, you’re dealing with the people at the firm every day. I used to think that I loved accounting because it was always a right answer, you know, you could always make that balance sheet balance, but there is a tremendous amount of judgment involved in this business and research is critically important. And being able to interpret what that means. so be that critical decision-making is an incredibly important skill. We are going to continue to see the industry change.
And we’re going to see more and more disruption, you know, during the pandemic we went from working in our offices every day to working entirely remotely every day. And our clients working entirely remotely. And as some of that is starting to change to more of a hybrid environment of sometimes in the office, sometimes not in the office, those communication skills and people skills are critically important to be able to maintain and build relationships in an entirely new way.
Kathy: I think Christine makes a really good point too, about this is just another example of how we’ve changed and how we’ve had to pivot in the whole pandemic of offering remote work or remote classes going into a situation where learning and, and is a whole different ball game. Things have shifted to an online environment and it, and it’s, it’s actually takes a lot more work. It actually making sure that you’re effective in, I, I know it does in the classroom, making sure that I’m effective in classroom in an online environment takes more work than going and standing in a classroom and talking to students and getting that interaction because you don’t have, you have to gauge the interactions a lot different.
You have to gauge how much they’re learning differently. You have to have much more touch with them. So the whole it’s, I don’t see it changing a lot. I think there, you’re going to continue to see a lot of online. We’re growing our online Mac program. I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of remote work, but the way that we’re going to do. Producing it, or the way we’re going to be interacting is, is something that we, we have to work on. We have to make sure that we’re doing it the best way in the most effective way.
Christine: And Kathy at what I see changing is we’re actually entering into relationships now completely virtually. Where, you know, we used to always have the opportunity to, to meet a new client face to face over a meeting over the process of a proposal, for example, and those interactions had to take place 100% virtually.
so learning how to develop and build relationships in a virtual embarrassing, has also taken quite a bit more work, trying to ensure that you are engaging and you’re getting understanding in a virtual environment, which is very different from how I grew up working face-to-face with people, you know, a big, big part of what we do is assess people’s responses and, and really having to encourage people to always put their camera on.
That was very difficult in the beginning of the pandemic. People were not comfortable because they were always looking at themselves, and they didn’t want to see themselves. They’ve never had to look at themselves all the time before, so, and that’s going to continue. And I think it only opens up more opportunities in my business to expand who we work with when we don’t have to hop on a plane, certainly better for the environment. And it’s better for the wellbeing of our people. If we’re not traveling constantly and we can continue to leverage the virtual environment.
Kathy: And we find it in meetings because more people are able to attend. If it’s an online meeting, a virtual meeting and you get, you know, you get more interaction that way. And I’m going to take a little aside here, because over the weekend I read, I’m reading the book, Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.
And he was talking about, he’s talking about how jurors and judges are actually much worse at kind of reading people when they see them face to face and they are better at when they just take testimony, and when they just take, just take what is being said. And I thought that was really interesting that they can’t.
And actually it wasn’t, it was when people are lying. They can’t tell when people are lying when they, you know, when they are looking at them face to face. So that was kind of a little aside there that is not, on face to face, it’s not always the best.
Christine: Interesting I’d much rather look, look, somebody in the eye when I asked him a question.
Kathy: I would say that there’s a lot of people out there who agree with that.
Jenny: So, what I’m hearing is that these types of soft skills are so critical. You know, having the ability, EQ we talk a lot about EQ right, I think that’s critical. People would have assumed that that’s not that important in the world of accounting, but it sounds like that definitely is moving forward. You know, one of the things that we pride ourselves on in Poole college, and we certainly, encourage the students to do is try to have some of this practical experience before they go into the workforce.
So how much do you feel practicums, internships? How are they still just as vital in terms of preparing students for these roles? And is it something that you both would encourage a student to consider? Whether it’s a practicum and internship, or maybe even a study abroad opportunity before they step into the workforce?
Christine: I highly encourage internships, study abroad, any opportunity to actually practice what you’re going to be doing. And I think it’s critically important as a student to better understand what this profession is about. I didn’t do an internship that wasn’t a common practice when I came through school and I had to learn everything from day one when I joined EY and I really didn’t know what to expect.
I mean, I, I knew somewhat, I took an auditing class, but you know, auditing back then, there wasn’t even a case study. Right. It was really the theory of auditing it wasn’t what we did on a day-to-day basis. It was a hundred percent on the job learning. And I feel that our interns had a tremendous opportunity to really experience what is it going to be like?
When is this really the career that I thought it was? And I’m happy to say that. I think 99% of the time they agree it is, but they also tell me at the end of their internships, how much they learned and how they really appreciate how what they’re going to be doing when they, when they start full-time.
But I think study abroad as well. Just give the students another opportunity to experience a different environment. Uh, what does business. Uh, what does an international business like? You know, our, our economy is becoming more and more global and you’re very likely going to be working with global companies, whether you go to work for a global company or you go into work in public accounting, which are largely global firms serving in international and in global companies. So a hundred percent encourage students to continue them.
Kathy: It goes in with the, with the people skills to. Way back when I first started into public accounting, even it was, yeah, your, your typical introvert was your, was your strong person there, your, your, your actual person who did, went into accounting because that’s what they felt most comfortable with, but with so much people interaction these days, these experiences practicums, whether it’s going into a company and helping them solve a problem, whether it’s going on a study abroad, whether it’s doing an internship, all of that provides them with a lot of exposure to good experiences and to a wide range of people, a wide range of, of individuals to work within a wide, wide range of companies to work with.
So practicums are great because it makes students think about problems from a different perspective. Think about, put on that kind of consultant, hat, hat, and walk into a business and say, we’re here to help you. And I know with, we offer them here on campus in enterprise risk management, we offer them analytics.
We offer them in supply chain. We have all, you know, a lot of different areas of the Poole College and they are all just extremely valuable learning experiences. So I, I really like all of them because students learn a lot. They get to interact a lot and they get much more comfortable with themselves. You know, a student who’s done an internship or a, or a practicum or even a study abroad goes out a more confident student, a more confident graduate.
Jenny: Kathy, you talked about internship opportunities. Can you just maybe say quickly how students can find out more about internship opportunities at Poole?
Kathy: Oh, this is good. Yes. In terms of internships we have a couple of different ways to find out about them, and one of them is generally informal. Here are some opportunities that come up through career services or that come up through just companies telling us that they would like someone to work with them.
One of them is the more structured accounting internship program that we have that we specifically target a group of students for, that are the primes that are the top students in the classes that are the recommended by faculty. And they are then go through a series of making sure that they’re well prepared for interviewing for internships.
And they will interview for internships with the public accounting firms. So we do see some that are targeted specifically to public accounting. And then we see some that are more corporate or governmental, or maybe more of a business, sort of an internship. So there’s formal, a formal program and then a more informal program for it.
I would say that if a student is interested in an internship, there’s an internship out there for them someplace. And that’s working with us. That’s working with, and then, you know, undergrad programs, director, that’s working with the department head, that’s working with career services to make sure that we can get that student that opportunity, but there are opportunities out there for just about anybody who’s going to want one.
Jenny: So, I’d be curious to hear from each of you, from your perspective, Kathy, more from what you’re hearing from employers and Christine, your perspective as an employer. What do you see changing? Or what does the accounting industry look like in the next five to 10 years? I’m sure the pandemic has influenced some, some things maybe a little bit faster than we anticipated.
Christine you mentioned analytics as something that’s continuing to arise in the profession, but what are some other things that you’re seeing, or perhaps could be changing the profession as a whole?
Christine: We’re going to continue to see the firms focusing on how to work in this, in this virtual environment, and virtual is here to stay. In person is also here to say, I don’t believe we’re going to be a hundred percent virtual. And certainly what I have seen now that our offices are reopened is people love being back together, but they also love the flexibility of being able to work from home. I think we will continue to hone that skill and I see our clients doing the same. They are predominantly going to some type of a hybrid work environment where it will, some, some will be in person onsite and some will be virtual. That’s going to continue.
The continued automation and digitization of the audit, and that’s just going to continue to develop. And I think the focus on that in the university programs is incredibly helpful because it is going to continue in what we do. What I don’t see changing and students often ask me, is, are our jobs going to be replaced by a computer?
Are our jobs going to be replaced by offshoring? And we’re now 20 years into supplementing our audit with offshore resources. It is never going to replace the fact that we need people who can engage with our clients and with each other in an environment where you can, you can be in-person. I don’t think that is changing, certainly not in the five to 10 years.
And I don’t think it’s changing long-term and I think the thing that kind of keeps me up at night is what’s going to be the next disruption in our, in our industry. You know, every industry is disrupted at some point. And, and I often think about that. What’s going to disrupt public accounting. Is it going to be at a big data service provider?
That’s going to figure out a way to audit without as much human interaction? You know, what is that disruption? We’re all dealing with the war for talent right now, and the struggle to get, to keep people, you know, we spend a lot of time and money educating and training.
So how and how do we continue to make our workplace the top workplace of choice? Right? So we want to continue to be that flexible and inclusive environment that offers the great career opportunities that people don’t want to leave.
Kathy: One of the things that we do in our class every year is we talk about the initiatives that the major standard setters and the major accounting organizations are dealing with. So it kind of goes along with what Christine was talking about. So I think what, in addition to, and I think Christine made great points there.
I think in addition to that, I would say that we’re always looking at new forms of transactions. I mean, these days we have, you know, cryptocurrency, we have so such issues with cybersecurity. Uh, we’ve got a lot of information that is not financial information that is, is relevant to businesses and needs to be analyzed.
You’ve got the sustainability accounting standards board that is big now, and so ESG is a major initiative. So a lot of consulting related to climate and sustainability and environmental responses of companies. And so, and students need to be able to look at a bigger picture than just the. They need to be able to look at what a business does and understand what that does, what the business does, what the industry does, how it’s going to change, but we make sure that our students realize this is what the SCC initiative are for the next few years, and this is what the AICPAs initiatives are for the next few years.
And this is what we’re seeing the standard centers work on. And this is where we think things are going to, are we going to be all international standards in the future? Probably not, but what are we going? You know, how, how consistent are things going to be on an international basis, whether it’s accounting standards, auditing standards, tax laws, et cetera. So we try and make sure that they realize that there are a lot of changes. This is, accounting is actually a very dynamic profession. You don’t think about it as that, you know, you think about it as debits and credits and everything stays the same.
And it really doesn’t. And so what they need to be just aware of and, and understanding is, is the dynamic nature of it is how much changes in the profession. So you’ve got a lot of the disruptions on the outside, the, you know, the whole pandemic and how we’re working and all of that. But you’ve got a lot of just the basic knowledge that changes, the basic standards in the way that we’re going to be approaching, you know, transactions or information changing.
Christine: Yeah, Kathy, I would a hundred percent agree. It is a very dynamic industry that is constantly changing. So being comfortable with change or accepting it is important to survive in this industry. The SEC, as you mentioned, very focused on cybersecurity. They just released a new draft disclosure guidance on that’s open for comment on cyber disclosures that would require companies to disclose in an eight K within four days of a cyber event, that’s deemed material. So there’s a lot of information around that. And how do you determine material? Is that one of them is that multiple events? You know, they want to have a cybersecurity expert on every public company board so hearkening back to Sarbanes-Oxley requiring the financial expert every audit committee. So a lot of external forces impacting that. The ESG data, the sec has become very focused on, you know, disclosing information about climate change and, you know, human capitol disclosures. And a lot of that’s outside of the audited financial statements. So, you know, there’s going to be some focus on how to companies ensure that that data is controlled and accurate because it is not being audited by an outside service provider or not required to be at this stage.
And that may change in the future, but a lot of exciting changes. And as I’m coming to the, the end of my career. There is still going to be a tremendous amount of, of change going on in the industry and I’ll continue to follow.
Jenny: What we’re seeing, Kathy correct me if I’m wrong, in our Mac program we have students that are coming to our graduate program that have no accounting background they might’ve been a teacher. They might’ve been in the medical field. They might’ve been in a completely different type of industry. And they’re choosing to go into accounting because they can give a different perspective than maybe somebody who’s been an accountant since I graduated undergrad.
That to me is extremely exciting, and I think that touches on some of the changes the two of you mentioned, because you’re bringing in people that have this type of extra expertise, the cybersecurity, the sustainability lens. All of those pieces, I think will continue to grow and change that dynamic ability within accounting, but just curious to hear your thoughts about that more Christine, from your perspective of hiring people that maybe don’t come from a traditional accounting background, and Kathy kind of the, the side conversations and the things that you’re hearing from applicants that have chosen to come back to school that don’t have that traditional accounting undergrad.
Kathy: Uh, first of all, they do go through some classes or some online training to pick up a lot of the concepts of undergrads. So they don’t walk in just without, well they, but they do, they do bring a totally different perspective. And I’ll tell you the truth that I, in terms of actual how well they do in a class, their performance, I don’t see a big difference between them.
I see that they’re, they’re motivated. They’ve got that there, that most of them are career changers. Most of them are coming in because they want to advance in their career that they’re in, or they want to take a new side career, a new different career and they’re, and they’re changing, you know?
So they’ve already experienced the “let’s change something”, and let’s get into this. And even though I don’t have accounting as a background, maybe I’m a physical therapist, you know, I’m just talking to a young lady, who’s coming into the program. She’s a physical therapist and her husband runs a trucking company.
Like, okay, you’re perfect for this, you know, but she wants to be able to, you know, to be a good accounting firm for that sort of a niche area. Perfect opportunity, and they’ll come in and they will bring that they’ll they’re motivated. They are, because this is their choice. You know, a lot of your students who come into a master’s program, it’s because, okay, we’re done with the four-year program.
Let’s do it because we’re not ready to leave school, or because we, mom and dad said, we need to do this, or because it’s the best way to get the type of job that I want to get. But these people, you know, are, are ASAP students. We call them, which is our summer accounting pre-recs program. our ASAP students are motivated there. I mean, they really, really have the drive to get through this. And, you know, we all know that accounting, especially at the master’s level is not easy sell for someone to voluntarily decide they want to do that is, you know, you’ve, you’ve got a lot of good motivated, good drive and good ambition to begin with.
Christine: I would say we find them to be very successful in public accounting because of that drive and passion for deciding what they really want to do. They may have started in another line of study or another profession. But once they choose accounting, they tend to be incredibly passionate about why they want to be there.
And they are very successful, and we really have experimented with a lot of different opportunities at the firm. we have a neuro diversity center that focuses on people who are neurodivergent and how can they be successful in a public accounting environment, and have found them to be very successful when given the right environment to do what they do best.
And some of that to very focused on our data analytics, because they are very data focused or math focused, but we have found they’ve also been able to supplement audit teams during the pandemic. In this virtual environment, they’ve become more comfortable with that. So we look at people who are passionate and want to work in and, and have a desire to be in accounting can be incredibly successful. They didn’t have to start out like Kathy and I devoted to accounting from day one. In fact, they’re probably very few of us out there.
Jenny: Well, I so appreciate both of you coming today, out of your busy schedules, to have this conversation. I think there are a lot of great nuggets that are our students can take away. I think we’re incredibly lucky to have leaders, female leaders, such as yourselves that kind of paved the way for younger generations.
I want to end with this question. It’s always fun and I’m always fascinated to hear kind of the responses, and you both touched on this a little bit, but if you could go back to Kathy at 21 and Christine at 21, knowing the kind of careers that you’ve had, what are some advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Kathy: I wouldn’t tell myself to embrace my creative side a little bit more and be open to change more so than I was probably then, you know, at that point in time, it was, of course I was a little introvert, okay. I was always being more open, I think, than I actually was. I was well-designed for the tax department in a public accounting firm because it was, you know, a lot of work at my desk, a lot of, not, not as much interaction with people.
And I find that. Been something I’ve had to learn and that I’ve had to, in order to do what I’m doing, I have to have gotten much better on it. So I would say, you know, be a little more creative, a little more outgoing and be aware that, and embrace that change. That’s going to come ahead again.
Christine: I would tell my 21-year-old self to receive constructive criticism as an opportunity. I think the first few times someone gave me a constructive criticism and a review; I took it as the death note in my career versus really accepting it for what it was. Somebody really wanted to see me succeed and felt that there were areas that areas that, you know, be a little bit better at this, or a little bit better at that. There would be nothing to hold me back in my career and they didn’t look at it that way. So I always, you know, we asked our clients all the time, can we, can we get some feedback on our services? And sometimes some of my teams are defensive about that, right?
No, we do a great audit. We do, we were great at client service. You know what, if our clients didn’t care about us, they wouldn’t invest the time in the relationship to tell us how we could be better. And that’s the same for people giving you feedback on you on your career or on your work or on your, on your schoolwork. They want you to be better and they want to help you be better. They’re not trying to knock you down.
Jenny: Those are both great, great pieces of feedback, and hopefully somebody somewhere will be listening to that and think about that as they start their career. But thank you again, both for joining us today, and we look forward to seeing how you finish out your career, both of you.
Kathy: Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it and great to see you, Christine.
Christine: Great seeing you again, Kathy. I’d love to come back and teach a class again. That was fun.
Kathy: Oh, that’d be great. We would love you to.
The Poole Podcast is hosted by Jenny Hammond, the CMO at Poole College. This is a production of Earfluence.