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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?

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