On Monday, September 8, 2014, professionals and recruiters from Ernst & Young and Deloitte joined the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) for an information session on their respective advisory practices, followed by a Q&A session moderated by ZGAS board member David Shifrin. The event concluded with an open networking session.
The panel was comprised of the following professionals:
Lena Bakis, EY, Manager, Financial Accounting Advisory Services
Andrew Hovance, EY, Manager, Financial Accounting Advisory Services
Merilee Martin, EY, Campus Recruiter
Andrew Mahabir, Deloitte, Manager, Business Risk
Caroline Leach, Deloitte, Consultant, Risk Analytics
Katherine Dvorak, Deloitte, Campus Recruiting Specialist
The panel began with backgrounds on each firm’s advisory practice:
EY’s advisory practice focuses on non-audit clients with issues related to Financial Accounting and Advisory (FAAS), ranging from bankruptcy to IFRS. This service falls under the EY assurance service line and is classified as a specialty practice. Exposure to audit clients in advisory is limited due to independence concerns. Practitioners in this area are forward-thinking, often focusing on accounting standards as they evolve and how those changes will impact their clients. Experience in assurance is very important to the FAAS practice. EY has a rotational program that lasts two to three years, wherein staff initially work in assurance. Staff are often recruited from assurance for FAAS.
At Deloitte, advisory falls under the Audit & Enterprise Risk Services service line and comprises 6,000 people nationwide. Professionals in this area have diverse backgrounds, such as in financial statement audit, internal control audit, and valuation services. They also have a wide variety of majors and degrees. The advisory staff look at a large number of risks and have a high degree of interaction with
clients. One of the firm’s larger practice areas in advisory is cybersecurity.
David Shifrin: Please elaborate on your experiences at your respective firms.
EY: Andrew joined the firm after graduation, worked in audit for four years (his first client was Lehman Brothers). He got into FAAS because his mentor recommended he do so. Merilee began as an experienced hire in the Event Services Group, and then transitioned into recruiting in Houston. She recently came back to New York as a recruiter. Lena worked in audit for five years, and then transitioned into advisory. She emphasized that advisory is not where she had expected to end up (as is often the case).
Deloitte: Andrew started in internal audit and ended up in IT advisory. He reiterated Lena’s (EY) point that one never knows where one will end up when first starting one’s career. Caroline attained an accountancy degree with an IT minor, and started at Deloitte as an experienced hire. Katherine started as an experienced hire with Deloitte in Chicago. She felt that the firm was a breath of fresh air, because it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of one’s working schedule.
David Shifrin: Please elaborate on your prior work experiences, and include quirky things on your resumes.
EY: Merilee was a marketing and events intern with Pfizer prior to joining EY. She was present during the life-cycle phase of a drug that was to have a positive impact on lung cancer and thus found it very rewarding. Andrew then offered resume tips and stressed that resumes are really important to recruiters. What he focused on when looking for a job (as all students should) was ensuring that he demonstrated an entrepreneurial mind-set on his resume, with active leadership roles and extracurricular activities. Lena reinforced this point by specifying that what differentiates students are extra-curricular activities as many students have similar GPAs and working experiences. In fact, when looking at a resume she will immediately scroll to the bottom to see what activities the student participates in.
Deloitte: Andrew had a tax internship while in school, and learned that tax was not his calling. Katherine was a recruiter for Deloitte during Occupy Wall Street.
David Shifrin: How does your firm integrate new hires?
EY: Andrew began by discussing the counseling families that new hires can rely on for support. He mentioned other social events, often planned by social committees, such as dinners, networking events, happy hours and intramural sports. Merilee said that new interns’ engagement teams treat them just as they would full-time staff. There are also great events at EY that foster team spirit among new hires and current employees. On EY Connect day, all firm offices nationwide shutdown so staff members can volunteer for a cause of their choice. Further, there is an intern conference where 3,000 interns in the U.S. go to Disney in Orlando to network and participate in team-building activities. Managers and senior managers also go to Disney in Orlando later in their careers to celebrate career milestones and their accomplishments.
Deloitte: Katherine discussed that Deloitte’s intern program allows individuals to get real-world experience in working with clients. It also allows for networking with other interns. Every Friday, all the interns in the New York office have an event. To foster the team spirit among new hires and current employees, there is the Deloitte Impact Day, wherein the entire company shuts down and all staff members perform community service activities. This is followed by a party. Additionally, there is a summer fair in the office which allows staff to connect and network with intra-office clubs called Business Resource Groups.
David Shifrin: What types of responsibilities do new hires take on?
EY: Lena began by saying that the firm assigns peer advisors to new-hires to bring them up to speed in their new environment.
Deloitte: Caroline discussed how all new hires are taught team-working skills. Andrew added that new hires are treated like everyone else, as they are there to learn and ask questions. And Katherine stated that Deloitte is always training individuals, especially new hires -- they are never just thrown in. New hires are given the chance to acclimate to their engagements and over time attain more responsibility. Everyone, including new hires, is valued and accountable. Further, mentors teach new hires and also help them acclimate to their work environment.
David Shifrin: How do you see your firms or practices in the next five years?
EY: Merilee stated that EY has a new vision and goal, which is to grow the firm and become a 50-million person staff by 2020. Thus, the firm needs more quality people. Lena then said that the goal in FAAS is to grow to 1,200 people, meaning three-times the size of the practice currently.
Deloitte: Andrew stated that the firm’s advisory practice is a growing overall, especially the area of cyber risk.
David Shifrin: What is the best part of each of your days?
EY: Andrew said that the people, culture and flexibility of EY make his day worth it. Further, every day is a new challenge and learning experience. Lena then stated that she loves seeing clients appreciate what she has done for them.
Deloitte: Andrew stated that the people of Deloitte make his day, as he feels the firm is one big family. Katherine said she enjoys the use of technology within the firm, such as videoconferencing.
Once the floor was opened up for audience questions, the following points were made: Lena (EY) stated that students should stay connected with the FASB and other industry sources, so as to be updated on accounting and tax issues. Merilee (EY) then discussed team communications, noting that one should observe and understand the culture of one’s team. Lena added to that, saying communications should sometimes be face-to-face and not solely electronic. Katie (Deloitte) further stated that no two people are alike, and communications depend on the group one works within and its key players.
The panel discussion then concluded and an open-networking session began.