- Values from public accounting
- Joining KBS
- Decision making
- Taking career risks
Brig recently joined Kill Busy Season after starting his career at KPMG. Read on!
I was born and raised in Columbia, MO. I attended the University of Missouri where I thought that majoring in accounting would give me the best possible launch pad to take my career wherever I wanted to take it.
That decision threw me into a similar pipeline as a lot of accounting majors, which was to obtain my Masters, a CPA license, and start with a public accounting firm. For me, that was KPMG in Kansas City within their audit practice.
Three years in with KPMG I hit that familiar point where I knew I wasn’t going to be on the partner track but struggled to figure out what that next step was. I couldn’t find valuable resources that I could rely on that could help me evaluate and align my aspirations with a company or career path that would help me fulfill that. That inner struggle led me to jump from public accounting into roles that were not the best fit, where I probably spent more time trying to find my next job than focusing on my current one. Despite it all, that path has led me to where I am now with Kill Busy Season.
I’ve learned to value my time spent in public accounting more as time progresses. I think it’s difficult for anyone to pull out all the different learning blocks you are experiencing until you’ve had time to reflect. Looking back, KPMG was where I learned and developed most of the professional and personal skills I utilize today.
You naturally learn a strong work ethic by watching colleagues, from seniors to partners, bring their best effort every single day. You also develop a sense of professionalism that allows you to effectively communicate with a vast array of professionals and executives.
Then there are some of the everyday tasks, that at times can feel monotonous but provide a benchmark for skills that will become invaluable to your future employers. Control testing and risk assessment stick out – those are areas that any manager-level employee on the industry side would be asked to document and build at a business so that they can properly scale and grow. Some professionals wait years before they get exposure to that type of information while public accountants get it on day 1, it might just be hard to see at first glance.
First and foremost, the mission behind KBS aligned perfectly with some of the first-hand difficulties I experienced trying to navigate the post public accounting world.
To explain further, KBS isn’t trying to kill Busy Season (or public accounting), but instead, be advocates for professionals with a public accounting background to the rest of the world. Public accounting is still a numbers game and not everyone can be a partner. I started in a class of 20 people, and I would imagine at most, one person will make it to partner. Take that percentage and multiply it across the entire industry. It leaves a massive group of capable and talented professionals that, at some point in their time at the firm, will need to find another place to continue to grow in their professional life. For a lot of those individuals, a traditional back-office accounting gig is not where their aspirations lie.
The one thing that was always missing when working with traditional recruiting firms was the mutual understanding that my skills and experiences are valuable to businesses outside of the accounting department. Former colleagues and friends were experiencing the same predicament, so I knew I wasn’t alone. At KBS, we are building a community of like-minded individuals, with similar backgrounds, to provide resources on how to navigate those difficult career decisions together. This blog series is the first example of that in a line of much more to come.
I’m the Director of Professional Development Strategy which in practice focuses on two parts of our company – 1) assisting our candidates with their next move and 2) developing our community and related content.
On the candidate side, I’ll be one of the first voices that new members hear from when they reach out wanting to learn more. From there it’s all about learning about that individual, where they come from, and where they are hoping to go – both in the short and long term. We use those identifiers to tailor a profile specific to each individual candidate so that they will only see opportunities come through that match their career aspirations.
On the content side, our community will strive to bring the playbook of advancing your career straight to you. Do you think you want to branch out into a transaction-based role and work in private equity? Great – here are three interviews from people that have already taken that path, an overview of different types of roles that exist in that space, and a couple of resume tips on how to communicate your experiences the way a PE executive would want to see it.
With all that said, I know I won’t have all the answers for what we need to provide as far as meaningful content goes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any feedback on what our site might be missing out on!
Take risks and do things that make you feel uncomfortable. For the last several years, I became content following the status quo of working traditional accounting-type jobs, despite knowing that the lifestyle didn’t align with who I was and who I wanted to be. I would advise myself to never stop challenging your perceptions of yourself and your place in the world. The easiest way to accomplish that is by placing yourself in uncomfortable situations to see how you respond. I believe that everyone is capable of far more than they know, but the path to unlocking that potential is by taking that blind extra step.
Right now I’m currently spending my free time learning about the funding lifecycles of businesses and the challenges that come at each stage. Prior to KBS, I only worked with large companies, so the start-up and early-stage venture worlds are relatively new to me. I’ve found myself recently going down rabbit holes when reading more about a certain company's path from start-up to successful exit. Oftentimes the founders of these companies will then take it to a forum such as Twitter, where they will provide in detail the keys to their success and how they overcame certain pain points. It's an invaluable resource to be able to have access to these individuals' experiences from the comfort of your home.
What’s driving this obsession is obviously geared towards my current working environment, but also an underlying desire to build something of my own one day. The landscape of building a new business is ever-changing, so I just hope to stay updated on the trends and patterns of those doing it successfully.
Might seem simple but my dad always told me “With every decision, there is a right way and a wrong way.” Now I know most of his context was just to keep me from making bad decisions as a teenager, but I’ve found benefit in applying it in all aspects of my life. Some decisions, maybe even most, don’t have a predefined right or wrong answer. But there is a right way to go about making that decision and those words force me to take time to think and stand behind my decisions, by challenging my convictions to ensure that I’m handling them with integrity.
I used to answer this question in job interviews saying that I never think more than a year or two ahead of where I’m at, which was true at the time. But I believe I’ve landed in a place that I see myself for a long time, whether it be with Kill Busy Season or some other early-stage venture. Investing yourself into a business in the beginning is a breath of fresh air and gives me an energy I’ve been missing. You learn quickly how you can bring value not only to the company but to the people your service benefits.
Is it risky? Maybe. That shouldn’t be a shock or awe to anyone regardless of how much we believe in what we are doing here. But sometimes you have to take the risk before you ever know what you can accomplish.