Blog Archive

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Boomerang: What Brought Brittney Back

***The following post was contributed by one of our Audit Supervisors in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota office, Brittney***

I’ve worked in the banking industry since high school. I started out part-time on the teller line (hand-written and hand-stamped receipts – ugh!) and worked in many different areas until, most recently, I was Controller of a $750+ million publicly held financial institution. A few years ago (it seems to me, although my kindergartener wasn’t even born at the time, so you do the math), I was the Controller of a small community bank. I was afraid that I was going to “pigeon hole” myself in that role and limit my growth potential. Small community banks were steadily beginning to disappear. I was worried about future career opportunities. I decided that I needed some additional experience to take my career to the next level and I chose to gain that experience in public accounting.

I started with McGladrey & Pullen in November 2003. It was an easy choice. My office has a pretty extensive Financial Instutions (FI) practice and it seemed like a perfect way to use the knowledge I had already gained. More importantly (in my mind), I really liked the people I interviewed with and thought that the culture was a good fit. I was right - it was a great fit for me! I thoroughly enjoyed my job.

In 2006, I heard about a position that sounded like my dream job (a term I will never use so flippantly again.) I was not looking for the proverbial “greener grass”, but I was haunted by my original plan. The reason I chose to get some experience in public accounting was for opportunities like this. It was a chance to make a difference, to be a change agent, to use the wealth of knowledge I had acquired.

I took the job as a Controller for a bank.

My mom was right when she said, “Be careful what you wish for!” As the quarters ticked by after my return to accounting in a bank, my list of things to do kept growing, the hours needed to accomplish those tasks kept stretching out before me, and my energy level started to deteriorate. What’s the point of working so hard if you never actually achieve your goal? Or the goal keeps changing? Eventually, operating in constant crisis mode caught up with me. Not only was I dissatisfied and physically drained, my work/life balance was completely off kilter.

One fine day, the winds of change started blowing me back to McGladrey & Pullen. I had conversations with a wonderful recruiter (who now owes me $5 for mentioning how fabulous he is) and discussions with senior management at the McGladrey office. The interview process was like none I’ve ever experienced. I was able to ask the really good questions – the ones that no one usually dares to ask – which was really eye-opening. I didn’t need to worry about the work environment, or whether the services provided were of high quality; I already knew the answers to those questions. Instead, I was able to gain insight and understanding regarding my career. Before I knew it, I was offered a chance to return.

I took the job and started back with McGladrey on October 20th.

On my first day back, I had work on my desk by 9:30 in the morning. There was no opportunity to play the “newbie” card and slowly work up to full speed. (On the other hand, I wasn’t forced to sit thru hours of orientation, so that may be a blessing.) The most challenging part has been the change in software and the change in auditing standards. These aren’t minor changes - I’m still trying to wrap my mind around both. I have come to terms with my shrunk paycheck and loss of several bank holidays. I try not to miss my 150 square foot office or my underground parking spot. After all, the pros far outweigh the cons.

I like the variety of working with different clients – meeting new people, visiting new places. I like the satisfaction of finishing a project and having something tangible (a report) to show for it. I like being able to offer unique perspective having been in both public and private accounting.

The most rewarding thing about returning to McGladrey has been my work/life balance. I won’t bore you with tales of quality time spent with those I love, and stories of the fun I’ve had doing those things I enjoy. I will, however, tell you how people tend to give me strange looks when I tell them that I’ve returned to public accounting for more balance. They tend to openly gape when I tell them that I have better hours and more flexibility, but it’s true. You may cringe when you think about all the hours clocked over busy season, but I operated under four busy seasons each year – one every quarter. There were no breaks and the end was never in sight!

The easiest thing about returning to McGladrey was the people, of course. (By now, you knew I’d say that.) I like seeing all of my old friends on a regular basis again. I like working on a team instead of working where people are throwing elbows on their way up the corporate ladder. It’s great to work with professionals who do what it takes to get the job done and take pride in their work. There’s no need to ask people to come in early, stay late or work on the weekend. We are a team and we have deadlines; everyone understands that.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to return to McGladrey & Pullen. And that’s a good thing. Because my former-now-current co-workers took turns calling me, reminding me of how much I loved McGladrey, telling me how much they wanted me to come back, asking me out to lunch, and just appealing to my vanity in general. I couldn’t have said “no” if I wanted to!

***Note from Jay***

Brittney is a great example of someone who truly experienced one of my favorite sayings:

"The grass may look greener on the other side, but eventually you're going to have to mow that grass as well."

The Upper Midwest Economic Unit has a number of "boomerangs" every year. A boomerang is someone who works for McGladrey, leaves McGladrey, and then returns to McGladrey.

McGladrey is lucky to have people like Brittney who bring both public and private accounting experience to the table, but ultimately decide that public accounting is where they want to be.

Now, can anyone loan me $5 so I can send it to Brittney for her kind words?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pasadena Goes Semi, Semi Pro

This past Tuesday evening, several members of the Pasadena office gathered at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course for a golf team building. Several of our folks had been taking golf lessons and were eager to showcase their newly found skill sets. The event was also intended to provide some much needed time out of the office, in a friendly, relaxed setting in an effort to continue fostering strong working and personal relationships.

Personally, it had been a while since I had last golfed and I figured there’d be nothing to it. After all, I considered myself to be an old pro. Wrong! I humbly realized I was just old and not too pro. Given it had been years since I last played golf I was kindly assigned to the miniature golf team; a team that also consisted of my 12 year-old son, which shows you the level of expertise we were competing with. Offspring or not, I was determined to take everyone on my miniature golf team down; and I would have if it weren’t for that darned windmill with the fake daffodils and smiling, dancing squirrels. All kidding aside, we had a wonderful time talking about our families, projects, holiday plans and how horribly bad most of us were at golf.

After a punishing round of miniature golf, several of us headed to the driving range. One of our partners took about a half hour working with my son to help improve his swing; simply because they wanted to do something nice. Meanwhile, over on the “Pro” golf course, our tax partner, Dean Joaquin, displayed his exemplary golfing skills hitting balls over trees and ponds with the simplest of ease, all the while encouraging his team members that they could do the same with a little more practice. That’s the McGladrey way. Nothing is impossible if you try hard enough! Of course, I also believe that it takes some real skill to actually hit the tree with your golf ball. This thinking is probably another reason for my being strategically placed on the miniature golf team.

At the end of our event, our tax practice lead partner, Karen Jong, provided snacks and handed out PGA Tee Shirts (because McGladrey is the official accounting, tax and business consulting firm of The PGA of America) and prizes to the team with the best score. Oddly enough, the miniature golf team came in last place. I guess we’ll be canceling our US tour. I’m having the score sheets audited by our new associates, because I’m pretty convinced someone on the tax side was allocating unallowable deductions.

While we were sitting around sharing stories, I was struck with how much I not only enjoy working for this firm, but how much I truly enjoy the people I work with. Through our conversations we realized that some of our kids attend the same schools and as a result, have friends in common. One partner shared stories of a recent camping trip he’d gone on in Yosemite. An ITAX director who is transitioning to Pasadena while his family sells their home up north really appreciated getting out and spending the evening doing something other than heating up a Lean Cuisine and watching Dancing With the Stars. All in all, everyone had a great time and as a result, we’re planning to develop a softball and tennis team next. Again, that’s the McGladrey way. Continuing to build on great ideas!!!

If you’d like to join in on the fun feel free to check out several of our job postings below. If you’re a public accounting professional and can either golf, play softball or tennis, we’d love to talk with you.

Tax Director - Financial Institution - Pasadena
Tax Manager - Financial Institution - Pasadena
Tax Director - R&D/Tax Credits - Pasadena

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

McGladrey's New Presence in Downtown Philly

The McGladrey family grew a little larger at the end of October with the acquisition of a firm based in downtown Philadelphia, Simonson, Lipschultz & Fogel. McGladrey added 35 employees, including 5 partners, and a new downtown location with this acquisition. The addition makes McGladrey now the 6th largest firm in the Philadelphia region (according to the 2008 Book of Lists).

On behalf of those of us at Success starts here, we welcome our new teammates in the City of Brotherly Love.
Take a look below to explore some of the opportunities we currently have available in the Philadelphia area.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Southern, CA Team McGladrey Goes to the Zoo

On Saturday, September 20th, over 20 Southern, CA McGladrey employees, family members and friends made their way to the Santa Ana Zoo to take part in Easter Seals Walk With Me. Easter Seals is an organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities and special needs. These services include physical rehabilitation and job training to help people with disabilities participate as a productive member of the community.

The walk took place at the Santa Ana Zoo, and started off in the village area set up by Easter Seals. There were refreshments, music, cheerleaders, and even some hula hoop action! You don't really know your co-workers until you've seen them working a hula hoop. The walked took us all around the zoo and we were completely entertained by the monkeys, who seemed to be having some kind of party of their own! There was also a farm area with goats, pigs and ducks; which entertained several of the young children who came out to walk for this great cause.

One of the highlights of the day came at the end of our walk, when our team was introduced to several of the Ambassadors, who are individuals with disabilities who have benefited from Easter Seals services. It was heart-warming to get a chance to talk to them and hear about what a large impact the Easter Seals has made in their lives. Debbie Ball, the Easter Seals Event Manager, sought out the McGladrey team during the event to find us, as we had one of the largest teams at the event!

Overall, Team McGladrey was able to raise $625 for Easter Seals. Go Team!!

If you'd like the opportunity to work alongside people who not only make a difference at McGladrey, but also our local communities, then feel free to check out some of our job openings here in Southern, CA.

Tax Director - Irvine, CA
Tax Manager - Irvine, CA
Tax Supervisor - Irvine, CA
R&D Director - Irvine or Pasadena, CA

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ghosts and Ghouls Come Out To Play in Boston

Today's post comes to us from Karin Gilmartin, Recruiter in the Boston Economic Unit (EU).

On Wednesday, October 29th, the Boston EU held their annual Children’s Halloween Party. The Boston EU employees were invited to bring their children to the offices in Burlington and Quincy on that afternoon for fun Halloween activities including crafts, trick or treating, and a Pizza party. This is one of the favorite events of the year because everyone loves seeing the kids in their costumes, the kids really enjoy going to Mom or Dad’s (or a Grandparent’s) office, and our employees have fun and really go wild with decorating the offices. Prizes are awarded to the Employees for Best Costume and Best Office/Cubicle decorating.

Thanks for sharing Karin. I know how much parents and kids love these events as I've had the opportunity to participate myself with my kids at McGladrey and at my previous employer. I'm willing to bet that the kids and their parents can't wait until next year's Halloween party!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stamford Office Named NYSCEEA Employer of the Year

On Monday, October 27, the Stamford, CT McGladrey office was named the New York State Cooperative and Experiential Education Association (NYSCEEA) 2008 Employer of the Year. Jerry Landau (Partner), Maren Mercado (Campus Recruiter), and Mary Maguire (HR Director) were specifically recognized at the awards ceremony in Corning, NY for their partnership with Pace University.

Since 2006, McGladrey has hired 14 students into intern and full-time positions. The ongoing feedback from Pace students was that their internship was "fantastic" and "very worthwhile". Interns are assigned mentors and buddys, and are assigned engaging and meaningful work, working alongside top management and experience associates. Interns are also able to rotate through the Audit, Tax and Small Business practices to ultimately create a very broad experience.

Maren, Mary and Jerry have also been active on-campus at Pace, participating in practice interview sessions, and sponsoring the annual Etiquette dinner. According to Sue Zankel, Manager of Employee Relations at Pace, McGladrey...

" a worthy recipient of this award as they exemplify the ideals of experiential education by demonstrating outstanding supervision and mentoring of students in the workplace. In addition they continually strive to create programs and environments for students were they can gain substantive practical pre-professional experiences while attending college. "

Congratulations to Maren, Mary and Jerry for this outstanding achievement!
Visit the links below to learn more about the 2009 Summer Internship opportunities at the Stamford location.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Meet a Recruiter - Dave Swinehart

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” -- Winston Churchill

I really like this quote from one of the 20th century’s greatest leaders. I think it speaks to a big part of who I am. Let me be clear; I have lived a very happy life with very few true tragedies or failures. However; I think what Churchill was trying to say was that we will all have failures in our lives. Some big, some small, but it is how we react to them that speaks to the essence of who we are. Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of failure, I think leads to success.

Well, before I get too theoretical, let me introduce myself. I am first a husband, a father and a son. Next, I work on McGladrey’s National Recruiting Team, helping to set strategy and optimizing our campus recruiting efforts, nationwide. My work career has spanned 5 presidential terms (Bush Sr., Clinton twice and “W” twice) which seems an appropriate reference here during election season. I have worked for large CPA firms (Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young), a staffing agency (Robert Half) and for the last 3 years, RSM McGladrey. I am both a CPA and an SPHR. I am married and have 2 great children, Michael (9) and Natalie (6) who keeps my wife, Kathy, and I very busy. I was born, raised and currently live in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Now, let me get back to success and enthusiasm. Below is a link to a podcast of me talking about my career progression. Clearly, a large fork in the road was when Arthur Andersen ceased to be. My career started there and so, as you might imagine, I had strong emotional ties to that organization. I was shocked to see how many of my peers reacted negatively to that “failure”. So many of my former colleagues seemed to think the world was ending. While that situation was very stressful to those people who were losing their jobs, I embraced that change with enthusiasm. My podcast does not go into all these details, but my first career move after Arthur Andersen to the staffing agency was very challenging and sometime unpleasant for me. But, I looked at it as an opportunity, a stepping stone, that positioned me for my time with Ernst & Young and ultimately, McGladrey. Too many of peers lacked enthusiasm as they saw Arthur Andersen disappear. I hope this podcast sheds a little light on my background as well and shows how a little enthusiasm, in the face of failure, can result in some wonderful outcomes. Take a listen.