On September 11, 2013, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) held a Mid-size Accounting Round-Table Event. Students had the opportunity to ask questions one-on-one, and to personally connect with employees of the various firms. Firms in attendance were Baker Tilly, BDO, Cohn Reznick, Crowe Horwath, Friedman, McGladrey, MBAF, Mitchell & Titus, ParenteBeard, WeiserMazars, and UHY. More than 150 students met with professionals of all levels, engaged in conversations about the firms, discussed career opportunities, and received career advice.
MS in Accounting student Simon Lin had a chance to speak with Emilio Escandon, a principal in the Tax and Accounting Department at MBAF. During their conversation, Simon asked Mr. Escandon, “How do you maintain client satisfaction while emphasizing professional integrity and work ethics?” Emilio led Simon through the typical process of a client engagement, “First, you write an engagement letter to the client, in which the client confirms the truthfulness of submitted documents by signing. Then, you do your best during the engagement, and inform the client of the end result. Both the CPA and client need to sign the completed tax return. In the end, you inform your client of the results by projecting what it’s going to look like for next year. Clients pay quarterly estimated tax payments. This way, the surprise is reduced to a minimum when its time to file next year's tax return.” Mr. Escandon emphasized the need for professionals to educate their clients.
MS in Accounting student Elva Chen also had a chance to speak with Mr. Escandon and with Sandra Eisele, another principal in MBAF’s Tax and Accounting Department. During their session, Mr. Escandon and Ms. Eisele discussed the possibility of transferring from audit to tax, and vice versa, which could be appealing to students who want to try both. When questioned about MBAF's internships, they said internships provide opportunities to learn more about their firm and to gain knowledge about what it would be like to work in either tax or audit. Mr. Escandon and Ms. Eisele emphasized the need for communication skills in both tax and audit. Elva summarized briefly about what the two principals said: “A company can provide you with technical skills through training…but an individual must exhibit strong soft skills to be successful.”
During my round-table session, I sat at McGladrey's table and spoke with Betsy Majersky, an Assurance Supervisor. Betsy spoke about busy seasons and emphasized the need for teamwork and communication skills to be successful. She said it’s important to remember that, as a team player, it is important to notify your team if you are falling behind or unable to meet certain deadlines due to obstacles; this way, team members can help to make sure a project is completed successfully and McGladrey's clients are satisfied. Ms. Majersky discussed extensively how the firm’s clients are its first priority: “It has always been all about understanding our clients – their business, their aspirations, their challenges. By understanding our clients, we are able to provide them with fresh insights and tailored expertise to help them succeed.”
Matthew O’Leary, an accountant at Baker Tilly’s Business Fraud & Investigative Services unit, said his firm was also glad to participate in this event: “It gave us an opportunity to meet with some interesting students, and provided us with an opportunity to introduce Baker Tilly to the NYC area.” He felt that the students with whom he met were prepared and excited to learn about his firm. Although he enjoyed meeting multiple graduate students during the event, Mr. O’Leary also only wished that the rotations in the event had each been a little longer to allow for lengthier conversations between students and professionals. Baker Tilly is looking forward to recruiting top talent at Baruch College in the coming years. The firm believes that, in addition to boasting a talented, diverse student body, Baruch similarly shares and endorses Baker Tilly’s chief values of integrity, passion, and stewardship.
Other professionals had different perspectives on the Mid-Size Accounting Round Table event. Michael J. Moss, another principal at MBAF’s Tax and Accounting Department, noticed that many students were focused on recruiting questions, and believed students attending the session should focus on evaluating and learning about the dynamics particular to a mid-sized firm. He enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the students, and noted that MBAF, “as a mid-size firm, provides associates/interns with the opportunity to develop as individuals and professionals in all areas.”
This event was a great opportunity to have face time with firm professionals. Students and professionals were able to connect on a more casual level and learn about the firms, their people, and current opportunities. Many professionals on Wednesday enjoyed speaking with students in the more casual setting of the event. Thanks again to all the students and firms that participated!