Previous University: Northeastern University ’88
Undergraduate Degree: Accounting and Finance
Q: As a partner at BDO, what is your involvement with Northeastern’s MSA/MBA corporate residency program?
A: I’ve been involved in student recruitment since 1988 when I graduated from Northeastern with a BS in Accounting. My involvement in BDO’s partnership with the Graduate School of Professional Accounting has become a year-round endeavor. I recruit and interview undergraduates from several universities, speak on panels about the public accounting profession and attend student networking events at Northeastern. I work closely with residents who are assigned to any of my projects, and for all interns, I check in at the beginning, middle, and end of their internship. I also serve on a corporate advisory board that provides feedback and advice to the program to ensure it continues to meet the changing needs of the profession.
Q: How does D’Amore-McKim’s corporate residency compare to traditional internship programs?
A: A critical distinction is that, unlike the typical summer internship, the MSA/MBA corporate residency takes place during accounting’s busy season from January to March. There’s no better time to experience what the business of public accounting is all about. The timing also has an impact on the type of work the residents do. Unlike June when the volume is slow, Northeastern students have an opportunity to try their hand at all the tasks appropriate for their level and, because it’s the busy season, often have an opportunity to help out with higher-level tasks.
For example, a traditional task for an accounting firm is to certify the accuracy of a client’s cash reconciliation. This is essentially a computational task. During the busy season, our residents might also help out with higher-level tasks, like checking and challenging the reliability of a client’s inventory reserve position. This is a more complex job because the team has to validate judgements and business decisions made by the client. This requires reasoning, experience, and adjusting for the current economic climate. Right now, COVID 19 is changing every company’s reserves calculations.
Q: What type of relationship do students have with full-time employees during their residency?
A: At BDO our average team size is typically five team members, and each team includes professionals with varying levels of experience. As a result, residents work directly with people at different stages of their careers. Because Northeastern students are with us during the busy season, they spend most of their time on-site, interacting with our clients. This is a huge advantage. It’s the real thing.
Q: How will the MSA/MBA program’s new concentration in Business Analytics prepare students for big data accounting?
A: Data analytics has become an essential skill for anyone entering the fields of finance and accounting. It’s a skill that students need to master because there is so much data available these days you have to be able to sift through it and find the value in the details. Being able to do that will help a student/professional make more meaningful recommendations to their clients and to perform a faster and more effective audit.
Fluency in data analytics will also allow a student/profession to perform a what I call “Freelance audit data analysis.” To creatively solve a problem that isn’t common. Although we have off-the-shelf products for many common data analysis tasks, there are times when a client matter poses a unique challenge. A professional is more valuable to us (and overall) if they can develop a “freelance data analytic” to solve a problem faster and more effectively. If all goes well that data analytic can be easily used by other accountants year after year.
“Students from the Northeastern MSA/MBA program do so well because liberal arts is part of their education. It’s all about thinking, communicating, and problem-solving..When you combine the technical and soft skills, it results in a really good auditor.”
“Firms are going to be looking for people with higher-level skills who have a better understanding of the big picture in business. This makes it increasingly important for students to understand [these] skills.”
Undergraduate Degree: Economics (Minor in Classical Civilizations)
“The only way to conduct a thorough investment analysis is to go deep into the data. When I’m hiring financial analysts, I always give them a quiz about their accounting knowledge to make sure they have those skills.”
Undergraduate Degree: French Literature