- Working in high-growth environments
- Evaluating your next career move
- How to navigate public accounting
- Insights into the investing world
- General career advice
We’ve sat down with 50 accounting and finance professionals to provide the story of how they’ve taken their careers to the next level. Here are our takeaways.
Nick Buchanan on professionals jumping into a early-stage, startup environment -"They help drive business decisions and really learn the ins and outs of running a business. They would never see the breadth and depth of what goes on in a business if they went to a big organization."
Ed Frindt on joining a startup - "The case for joining a startup is that you learn more about actual business building. And it’s probably just a lot more fun."
Gentry Craig on working in a small business - "Things are going to be messy, but you've got to stay focused on the tasks that will keep the company alive and thriving."
JoAnna Muenks on switching to a high-growth company - "My goal was never to “kill busy season”. I wanted to put that same amount of effort—and more—into work that I’m passionate about at a younger company that I could directly impact."
Brian Simpson on working in a startup environment - "It's helpful for your professional growth. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable."
Mitch Morse on the early obstacles of bootstrapping a startup business - "...lots of cold calling, lots of denials, and lots of tailoring our pitch to kind of show how we're different than these other calls that they're getting all day."
William Webster on transitioning to non-accounting roles - "Leverage your industry knowledge. The stuff you can't teach is industry knowledge, that takes experience."
Andrea Biagioli on evaluating your next career move - "At the end of the day, you don't want a job to feel like a job. You want to feel like you are doing something that matters and that you can really contribute your skills to an organization."
Laura Dalton on finding the right job - "I've learned to trust my gut about interviews or companies that I'm working with."
Jack Caffrey when evaluating a high-growth job opportunity - "Get all the info you can on their financial well-being and try taking an objective view on whether they have a good product or not."
Adam Peltzer on finding the next career opportunity - "The more general advice I would give is find whatever you're passionate about - whether it's investments or something else - and gain all the knowledge you can get on the topic and the different paths to get there"
Mike Kistler on evaluating a new role - "Make sure your working style fits with the manager or the team you’d be joining. Finding people that you like to work with and who can help you grow and develop your skillset is important to consider beyond just the scope."
Mollie Mueller on trying to figure out what to do next - "You don't have to jump into a whole new job. Instead, find a way to do it for a day. Do it for an hour."
Ananth Avva on evaluating new job opportunities - "I think about joining a company as investing your scarcest resource, which is your time. That's 8-12 hours a day away from family and doing other things."
Sean Kennedy advice when transitioning out of public - "focus on the parts of your job you like about public accounting just as much as the parts you dislike"
Spencer Glenn (Pt. 1) on the keys to succeeding in public - "If you don't develop organizational skills, time management and the ability to communicate effectively, you're going to find out pretty quickly that public accounting isn't for you. But if you have those skills coming in, or quickly develop them, it’s going to be a very beneficial experience"
Bernardo Diaz on leveraging your network within public accounting - "Interact with as many people outside of your group as you can; network with people from the assurance, tax, and audit side.
Blake Goodman on making manager in public accounting - "The level of ownership and autonomy increases substantially when you have that manager title in front of your name"
Jeff Crowe on value of public accounting - "when you’re in public you’re getting a lot of experience that you might not realize you’re getting. I didn’t understand my ability to think through and understand processes until I left KPMG."
Margie Carmody on feeling limited in public accounting - "No one with a public accounting background should ever feel pigeonholed into a certain career path. Those skills translate to so many different industries and roles."
Meagan Dowell on benefit of an accounting background as a business owner - "I make every decision with an understanding of how it affects my bottom line. I know the exact financial position of my company every single day."
Ryan McCarthy reflecting on his time in public - "I do not know if there is a better environment than public accounting to learn foundational business skills and how to conduct yourself as a professional."
Jack Rusgis on taking advantage of your time in public - "be open and learn as much as you can while you are in public accounting as the more you absorb, the more attractive you will be for future opportunities."
Mandy Prather on the belief you have to stay until manager in public - "It’s just not true. It’s about what you do and the experience you gain while you’re there."
Annie Kuntz on the benefits of working at a smaller public firm - "Clients of small firms depend on their CPA as a trusted business advisor"
Ali Wahba on all the skills he’s gained in public - "I think the best skill is just always working hard."
Katie Thomas on the right time to leave public - "There's never going to be a perfect time to go after what you want. If you have this burning desire to do something, then go do it."
Aaron Saito on getting the most out of public - "Don't be afraid to ask your managers and mentors for what you want. Be upfront and frank about it, and make sure that you stay humble."
Matt Spoke on how accounting set himself up for entrepreneurship - "One of the things that is really obvious now is that an education in accounting and corporate finance is a really solid foundation on how to build a business. I forget that it's not a common skill."
Nate Frischknecht on using your clients as a resource - "Ask people about their experiences. You have access to these people - you’re not just auditing them, you should network with them."
Hannah Curtis on putting in the hard work early in your public career - "I knew the work I put in in the early years would pay off later in my life and decided to invest in my future."
Landon Hood on how a public accounting background can help your career - "Developing that questioning mindset, and how to effectively communicate with people while staying cordial are two skill sets that I think public accounting does a great job of teaching young professionals."
Macey Singleton on deciding to focus on helping small businesses - "In the CPA profession, especially with bigger firms, the smaller businesses don't get the attention that they need or deserve. Small business owners ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ and there is no course in starting a business.
David Barnthouse and George Lester on how venture capital work compares to audit - "Due diligence work is like auditing just without the audit standards.You’re still trying to realize what numbers are real and what makes sense."
Alex Federinko on finding his way into venture capital - "I’ll always tell you it was the perfect intersection of where preparation met opportunity."
Matt Phimphavong on working in VC - "I’ve had the opportunity to talk to founders behind cutting edge technology that I never even heard of, so that intellectual curiosity has to drive you to learn everything you can about it."
Ryan Roepke on using public accounting experience to land an investing role - "The light bulb started to go off for the investors that I was interviewing with that my technical skills can transition to the investing world."
Stephen Mock on being a business owner - "Manage the business or it will manage you. Don’t be afraid to tell a client no."
Clint Myers on the importance of networking - "Growing your network should be a lifelong goal."
Katie Minion on challenges of working for yourself - "Sometimes when you’re doing something different, you just have to push through the painful parts blindly and have faith that your hard work will pay off in the end."
Spencer Glenn (Pt. 2) on a key skill for today's workforce - "From a skillset perspective, I would have focused more on data analytics. You need to not just mine data and interpret it, but you need to be able to condense it into a version that is useful for others.”
Blake Koriath on the things to focus on in your career - "One is work hard.Two is be helpful to people. Three is to get lucky. If you do the first two, then the third is much more likely to happen."
Glebb Popov on setting yourself up for the future - "Wear many different hats and work on as many different projects as possible, even outside of finance."
Brig Clark on advice he'd give himself 5 years ago - "Take risks and do things that make you feel uncomfortable."
Mike Chalfant on his best professional learning experiences - "There’s no better way to learn than being thrown into the fire."
Scott Moir on major differences of FP&A vs. Accounting - "You have to identify what’s important to the business, what are the things that we can analyze and take action on to drive change in the business."
Argel Sabillo on early career advice - "Everyone should be building something. Could be a startup or a side project, but something you can take ownership of."
Nicole Bentz on advice to college students - "Take the time to get to know your professors outside of the classroom. Professors are a huge wealth of knowledge and great connectors to alumni.”
Thomas McDermott on earning the trust of your colleagues - "Build up a reputation of doing appropriate research, coming to a conclusion, and standing by it. It doesn’t always mean it’s going to be correct, but I built up that trust that I was at least going about it in the right way."
Garret Prather on how finance professionals can transition into operations - "they (finance jobs) take a more forward stance now and are integral into crucial decision-making processes. That skill set lends itself well to switching over to operations."