Can you tell me how you got into economics and accounting?
It was funny; when I applied to schools I applied to probably seven or eight and four or five that I was pretty serious about. I was between pre-med at Cornell or economics and accounting at Holy Cross and couldn’t decide, so my dad ended up giving me a quarter and I flipped it and chose Holy Cross. My father was an accountant and told me business was the best place to start, as it sets the base for everything. Holy Cross is a great school and has a great reputation, so it worked out well.
Can you tell me about your general work experience and what it is you do now?
I started off, like most people from our program, in public accounting. I worked at Arthur Andersen for probably four or five years. You kind of go through the mill of public accounting and either go up or go out, and I was out after that. Next I was an assistant controller, and then a controller at a small electric company. Then I went to work at United Technologies which has since become Raytheon Technologies, a large multinational company, and went through one of their internal audit programs. After that, I took the accounting degree I had and shifted gears to become a pricing manager for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, which was interesting because I had to know a lot about business but also a lot about projections, math, and numbers, and I ended up working there for about seven years. From there, I shifted gears again and went into financial analysis for a startup that made fuel cells and hydrogen generators. Then, I worked as a manager of mergers and acquisitions for a company that’s in print advertising. Now, I work at a generic pharmaceutical company where I entered as a manager of financial planning and analysis, but now I’m a director of finance and accounting, so I kind of went full circle. Accounting is sort of the language of business, so you can understand the basics and figure out the rest as you go along.
How did your lessons from Holy Cross help you in your career?
That’s an interesting question. The thing I always take with me is the way to prepare, work, and organize yourself and present a solution to a problem. A lot of places didn’t really teach that, but Holy Cross did. My professors always emphasized not so much getting to the answer, but getting to understand the problem first. After fully understanding the problem, that’s when you can start to formulate your solution instead of just trying to jump to the end. That’s the process I learned at Holy Cross, and it’s funny that a lot of people don’t learn that.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I hope I’m retired! I’ll probably be in the same field in five years; the company I’m with currently is going through a lot of changes so we’ll see how I can progress there. Hey, I’ve tried many industries, maybe I’ll try one more before I hang it up. It’s interesting to take the lessons you’ve learned from different places and be able to apply them to different industries because there are a lot of similarities.
Do you have any advice for current Holy Cross students?
There’s always a lot to learn; don’t ever think that you’ve mastered what you think you’ve mastered because something will come along to show you that you haven’t. Just remain curious; remain open to a new idea even if it’s a little crazy, because sometimes in a little crazy you find something really interesting. One of the companies I worked for had machinery that supposedly was too dangerous to put close together. There was a submarine in the past that had its machinery explode when it was configured in too tight a formation. Our president looked into it and found that someone had rested a wrench on top of two neighboring machines, which was what really caused the fire, not the proximity. Being able to group the machines closer together was a real opportunity for the company and allowed it to do extremely well. Sometimes you might believe something is true and never look into it, but a little research goes a long way. Question the absolutes that are given to you because sometimes you’re just a tweak away from a real winner.