by Michael Spalla ‘24
On Tuesday May 2, 2023, the Finance Academy hosted guest speakers Will Porter P. ’23 and Carol Palmer Winig who presented on their careers as accountants and what other career paths there are for those who choose to major in accounting.
Mr. Porter began by telling the club about his career as an accountant. After having earned his accounting degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he began his career as a staff accountant at Arthur Andersen. During this span of four years, he was also able to earn his CPA license. Next he entered private industry as the International Accounting Manager at Summit Technology which launched him into various controller positions at other public and private companies. This included him becoming the Vice President of Finance at Phase-Forward, a venture capital backed public healthcare IT company that provides integrated data collection and data management for clinical trials and drug safety. His role there spring boarded him to becoming the CFO of many, primarily software, companies such as Signinant Inc., Blue Tarp Financial, ObserveIT, Aura, and ARAS.
Next Ms. Palmer Winig told the club about her career as an accountant. After having earned her accounting degree from Boston College, she became an audit partner at the big four accounting firm Arthur Andersen where she specialized in the Software Revenue Recognition of technology companies, allowing her to work in both San Jose and Boston. She then became a financial consultant for two years at the tech companies Phase Forward, Sonus and Skill Soft. After this she landed her current job as a Forensic Accountant at Ernst and Young where she investigates financial fraud and cyber breaches. This is especially impressive as Ernst and Young is America’s leader in Forensic Audit Services.
Using their career paths, Mr. Porter and Ms. Palmer Winig taught the club about the other different fun and exciting career paths that an accounting degree can lead to, as well as describing its practical values and breaking the stereotype that accounting is boring. They each stressed how being an accountant gives you a leg up in the job market as they are often the first hires and are paid very well. They also mentioned the usefulness of this degree as one learns literally everything about how a company runs from profit and loss numbers, SEC reporting, raising capital process, mergers and acquisitions, and even managing a check book. They blew up the boring stereotype of accounting by mentioning that sometimes accountants actually do very little accounting but in fact do more interesting things such as financial analysis, deal negotiations, debt arrangements, fundraising, forecasting, and even investigating financial crimes. Lastly, both Mr. Porter and Ms. Palmer Winig stressed the importance of the relationships that are formed as an accountant within the business and the accounting community, crediting these relationships for putting them in the impressive positions that they are in today.
The Finance Academy thanks Mr. Porter and Ms. Palmer Winig for speaking to the club and sharing their experience in accounting and what an accounting degree can lead to.