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Career Story: Principal At A Public Accounting Firm

Principal At A Public Accounting Firm

Job Title: Principal (At An Public Accounting Firm)

Type of Company: We are a certified public accounting and business advisory firm providing services to private and public companies, individuals and not-for-profit organizations throughout New England.

Education: BA, English, Syracuse University

Previous Experience: I started as an administrative assistant in the marketing department for a large investment firm. I was promoted twice while there, in the marketing department to jobs that were less administrative and allowed me to learn about marketing financial services. I left to join another financial services firm and continued to advance through the marketing ranks until I managed a staff of five. I joined my recent firm four years ago and since have assumed additional responsibilities outside of marketing, including HR, performance management and learning and development. My current role is within the ranks of senior management at a regional accounting firm.

Job Tasks: I manage several areas of firm administration including:

Marketing - My team is responsible for designing and maintaining the firm's web site; producing the firm's sales collateral; assisting with development of targeted marketing campaigns including events such as trade shows and educational seminars for clients, and direct mail; ongoing communications with clients including information about changes in tax law; public relations including the development of press releases and writing articles for business publications; development of target lists, which include finance executives in various companies throughout the region; oversight of firm's customer relationship management software; manage employee participation in networking and business development events.

Learning and Development - I am responsible for overseeing the firms learning requirements; I meet with every employee to develop a personal learning plan, which includes a list of classes that they need to take in the coming 12 months, both to meet the requirement of their professional licensure and to ensure that they are being trained on the tools we use in the firm; I arrange all classes hosted by the firm.

Performance Management - I manage the process of administering annual performance evaluations, which measure an employees strengths and weaknesses over the previous 12 months.

Mentor program - I oversee the firm's mentor program, which is the professional equivalent of an advisor; I assign mentors to each member of our staff and ensure that both the mentor and staff member are fulfilling their responsibilities within the relationship.

Internal Communications - I oversee all aspects of our internal communications including newsletters, emails to the entire firm, the corporate intranet (an internal-only web site).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the varying tasks that I get to do every day - every day is different than the next. The work that I do impacts not only the staff but the clients and the firm as a whole. Through my work I am in contact with every member of the firm. That best part of my job can also be the worst part - being a resource and in management requires a lot of time and dedication and if I'm not very careful, the balance between work and life can shift.

Job Tips:
1. Regardless of what career you choose, view college as a learning experience - take advantage not only of the classes offered in your major, but classes that are outside of your chosen discipline.

2. Also, take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in clubs, on campus events, professional associations, lectures -- these are all learning opportunities and will help make you more successful later in life. College is not simply about the classroom -- look for internships and summer jobs.

3. I also strongly recommend starting at the ground floor of a profession and working through the ranks - it is a wonderful learning experience and will someday make you a better manager.

Additional Thoughts: Despite its reputation, accounting is very dynamic and challenging - it is more than tax returns. You must be strong analytically and a people-person. I never thought I would work at an accounting firm, but it has been the most rewarding job of my career, and I fully intend to finish my career here.

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