The Jobs Report: I’m An Accountant
1:15 pm, January 2nd | by Laura Donovan
This is the latest installment in an ongoing series we’re calling The Jobs Report. In light of depressing statistics about unemployment, especially for recent college graduates, the task of finding a job you love — or finding a job at all — can seem insurmountable. We want to challenge those numbers and offer an antidote to the depressing data, so we’re asking women we know who have found jobs they love to share how they got their gigs and what challenges and rewards them about their careers. Previous installments can be found here.
Whitney Randolph is Vice President of Financial Operations for Brown & Brown, Inc – Vero Division.
How and when did you decide you wanted to be an accountant?
I went to college with a very clear path for my life. I was going to major in Business Economics with a minor in creative writing, go to law school and then move to New York City to be an entertainment lawyer. I kept up this goal until Sophomore year of college when I had to take Accounting 200. I had been dreading it, but from the very first class to the very last project I loved every minute of it. To me, accounting is less math and more organization. Putting the numbers into the correct categories and making everything orderly was so appealing to me. I know I sound like a nerd, but I absolutely loved putting together financial statements, working them out and solving the puzzle, which was to make everything balance. I aced the class and came out of it with a brand new career. I decided not to go to law school, but instead pursue a Masters of Accountancy so I would be able to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).
How did you get the job you have now?
Most people out of the Masters of Accountancy program went to Public Accounting Firms to be auditors. I applied as well, with the thought that it was where I should be going, but after working as an Accounting Intern for two years during college, that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to spend my career evaluating other people’s accounting work, I wanted to perform it myself. I wanted to be with a company for the long term and help them reach their financial goals. So when I saw a position for a leadership program with Brown & Brown, Inc. a nationwide Insurance Agency, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I would serve as an internal auditor for a few years and then be promoted to running the accounting for my own office once I was ready. The years of internal audit would help for me to learn the very specific and complicated way of accounting for Insurance Agencies and would let me travel to see where I would eventually like to live. A bonus was that they would pay for me to get my CPA and other designations that would help my career. I was ecstatic to get the position. I loved every minute of my job, traveling to see how all the different offices operate, seeing new cities and learning everything I could about this new application of accounting. I was an internal auditor for less than a year when I was approached about a new Accounting Leader opportunity. An office in Vero Beach, Florida was breaking off as it’s own office and needed an Accounting Leader for the first time. It was the perfect opportunity for me to learn to be an Accounting Leader.
What’s something challenging about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
In being the Accounting Leader of a small office, I am not just the head of accounting. I am a manager of the office, the IT designee, Payroll Manager, HR contact and many more other responsibilities. Coming from a purely accounting background and having so little office experience it was a bit overwhelming to suddenly become a main contact for people. I had to learn more about IT so that I could help my coworkers without calling our IT department. I had to learn payroll and HR law so I didn’t make mistakes and say things I shouldn’t. I had to learn the difference between how you act as a manager of an office and how you act as an employee. All of this while still learning my basic job of how to run the accounting. But after 9 months of work, I have learned how to manage the many hats I wear.
What’s something great about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
When most people think of accountants, they think of paper pushers sitting in their office pouring over spreadsheets and staring at computers and not leaving their desks. While I do a good amount of pouring over spreadsheets I love that my entire day is spent helping people. Everything I do is to help my coworkers further their and the company’s goals. I pay vendors so our office will run smoothly and manage vendor costs so we have a better bottom-line. I show the head of the agency how we are doing financially so he can make new business goals and decisions. I manage payroll and HR so that the department managers can focus on sales and customer satisfaction. There are a million little things I do that are different every day, that all work towards helping other people more effectively do their jobs. It’s more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.
Do you know a lady who has a cool job that she loves? Are you that lady? Nominate yourself or someone else to be featured in The Jobs Report at firstname.lastname@example.org.