One hundred accounting students recently got a crystal ball-like glimpse into what their futures may look like.
The students—undergraduate accounting majors and graduate students pursuing an M.S. in accounting and information analysis (MSAIA)—attended a panel discussion Sept. 7 on “Accounting: the Key to Business Success.”
If the impressive career paths of the panel of accounting alumni assembled for the evening’s conversation are any indication, the students’ futures look bright.
The program, held Sept. 7 in Iaccoca Hall, was part of the accounting department’s 21st Annual Conference on Accounting Professionalism, a two-day series of activities bringing together undergraduate and graduate accounting students with accounting professionals from a variety of fields.
The goal of the conference, according to Parveen Gupta, chair of the accounting department, is to help students identify career opportunities in accounting and map the best ways to achieve those professional goals.
As evidence of the success of recent accounting graduates, Gupta shared information on the Class of 2012. In 2012, he said, the department graduated 80 undergraduate accounting majors –25 of them double majors—and virtually all were placed in entry-level accounting jobs after graduation. The 23 MSAIA students who graduated in 2012 also achieved good placement rates, he added.
Throughout the panel discussion, moderator Dan Black, Americas director of campus recruiting for Ernst & Young and the only non-Lehigh graduate on the dais, used humor to dispel some commonly held myths about the profession, including the misconception that people go into the field merely because they are “good with numbers.”
A people profession
“Accounting has a bad reputation and accountants a bad name,” Black said, “and it’s ill-deserved. Accounting is about being able to consult, advise and work with people on a day-to-day basis.”
Lehigh accounting majors are better prepared to do those things than their counterparts from other colleges and universities—a fact that every Lehigh alum on the panel said they had experienced time and again in their careers.
The panel members were:
• Todd Bialick ‘95, assurance partner, Pricewaterhouse Coopers
• Cathy Engelbert ‘86, audit partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
• Thomas Gallucci ‘93, managing director and senior analyst, healthcare services, Lazard Capital Markets
• Nadine Haines ‘82, ‘12G, corporate controller, Insaco Inc.
• Michael Lopez ‘75, partner, EisnerAmper
• Glenn Sward ‘92, vice president, global talent acquisition, SAP
Much of the panel discussion focused on public accounting and the pros and cons of following that seemingly preordained career path for young accountants as they strive to get enough experience to earn their CPA qualification.
Englebert told the students that the auditing profession clearly builds leaders, as young accountants are afforded an exposure to business power players—CEOs, CFOs—across a variety of industries that young professionals in other fields simply are not.
At the close of the session, Sward encouraged students to break free from another commonly held myth about accountants—that they desire to plan everything.
“You are all hard chargers. You’re all achievement driven,” he said, “but you don’t have to have it all mapped out. You are going to have a lot of options.”
Photos by John Kish IV