GUEST EDITORIAL After more than 30 enjoyable years in accounting, I don't believe I could find another profession as exciting, stimulating, and demanding. But my path has not been a straight line.
I went to college planning to major in math. I was good with numbers, and I liked the challenge of finding the "right" answer. Being a "girl," I also thought I might find a future husband in one of my math classes. But I was restless. By the end of my freshman year, I had been a math major, a government major, an economics major, and a math major again.
The summer after my freshman year, I took a temp job in the accounting department of a company in Baltimore that was building shopping centers and developing the planned city of Columbia, Maryland. In a bustling accounts receivable department with two accounting clerks who had been there at least 10 years, by the end of the summer I was "directing" them. The comptroller asked me to lunch, and by the end of an ego-satisfying meal, I had accepted his job offer for the following summer and promised to follow his advice by taking an introductory accounting class.
The rest is history. After three sessions of my first accounting course, I switched to the College of Business and became an accounting major. I loved the structure, the challenge, and the thought-provoking classes. There were no female accounting professors and I was one of only four female accounting majors, but who cared? I was having fun. When I graduated, I was given the Haskins and Sells Award for the outstanding senior accounting student and had a job and a fiance-an accountant.
I had interned at Peat, Marwick, and Mitchell in Baltimore after my junior year and interviewed with all of the Big Eight, most of which did not know what to do with a woman accountant. After graduating, I took a job at Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery (LRBM) in Boston. My assessment of LRBM as the most progressive Big Eight firm was based on the firm allowing its women accountants to wear pantsuits.
LRBM treated women as equals and with respect. of the 40 accountants starting that year five were women. Only three of us stayed longer than six months. After two or three years, we each went off to get our MBAs. We thought a woman needed an additional degree to succeed in public accounting.
I eventually returned to LRBM because I missed dealing with clients and being exposed to different industries. I loved the talented people and the pressure of finishing the audit. I loved the unexpected call from a client with a problem that needed to be resolved immediately, and I loved being a trusted business advisor. I was respected for who and what I was.
My path to becoming a professor started when Simmons College asked LRBM if it could provide an accounting instructor to fill an unexpected vacancy. …