Lauren Tomlinson, CPA, BSBA’01 & MAAC’01, was recently admitted to the Partnership at national accounting firm EisnerAmper LLP. She recounts her experiences in this interview about her path to becoming a partner.
Lauren Tomlinson’s dad is a CPA so you might imagine her path was set from the start…you’d be wrong. “I was resistant!” she said, “Sure, I was good at numbers but really, anything but accounting.”
But aptitude did lead her to major in business and accounting became more than just an exercise with figures, it became a pathway to a career. “Accounting as a major was to me more than a degree upon graduation, it was my entrance into a profession,” she relates.
Lauren graduated with her masters degree in 2002, and had her sights set on New York City. “That’s where I wanted to get started and I joined a middle market firm called Eisner LLP. In 2002, I was a Staff 1 (entry-level staff accountant), and I was introduced to the world of audit.” Lauren is still with Eisner, now EisnerAmper, which is one of the nation’s largest accounting tax and advisory firms with some 1200 employees.
Joining the audit staff was a key event in Lauren’s professional life, as she recounts, “Financial statement audits require a broad based knowledge of different businesses which is perfect for someone with my curiosity to learn how companies work.” It also calls for site work and travel – both appealing to a young accountant. “Auditors must be social people, willing and able to interact with clients. The most important skills I learned early on as an auditor were communication and team work, which has remained true throughout my career.”
By 2006 Lauren had been promoted twice and was now a Manager. Her experience included assignments with financial services firms (hedge funds, private equity funds and broker-dealers) and commercial companies and exposed her to auditing public companies. “In just a few short years I learned so much from a technical perspective. As I continued to work with the partners, I began to see the importance of client relationships and how our firm’s leadership developed new business and set goals.”
It was around this time that Lauren was introduced to the world of sports and entertainment audit. “This was so exciting as an avid sports fan. Eisner was starting an important practice in sports and entertainment and I wanted to be part of it. I received a lot of encouragement from the partners that I worked with.” Beginning in 2008 Lauren began work on an audit engagement of Major League Soccer, which was one of the firm’s first significant sport clients.
It was not long before she was asked to join the newest client team tasked with auditing all 30 National Basketball Association teams in accordance with their revenue sharing plan. By all accounts, this assignment was and remains a whirlwind of activity. By 2009 Lauren was promoted to Senior Manager and was managing the NBA engagement with oversight over the audits of all 30 teams. “This has been by far the largest, most visible assignment of my career. I was now leading an audit team, working with league officials, team management and executives as well as a partner group that encouraged and supported me.”
It was clear that Lauren was more than on her way at EisnerAmper, but she also realized that firm building activities were an important part of her own development as a leader. “I was interested in community involvement and around 2009 I joined the board of the YM/YWHA in Washington Heights. Naturally enough, I became the group’s treasurer and became the chairperson of its audit committee!” This gave her a taste of volunteering and set in motion a volunteer initiative at work that became EisnerAmper Cares. “What I saw was a need and an opportunity. There were many young professionals like me at work who were looking for ways to become active with charities and volunteer. I brought my idea to the partnership at EisnerAmper and soon enough we had a budget and a blue print to start working with five organizations donating our time and skills helping them serve their constituents. Five soon became eight and today we work with more than 15 charities in New York City alone. I’m very proud of the success of EisnerAmper Cares, and am really pleased that it has spread to our offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, San Francisco and Long Island. Lauren’s efforts on behalf of the firm also extend to the recruiting field. She’s been active with on-campus recruiting at Washington University since 2003 where internships, externships and full-time positions at EisnerAmper have been filled with Olin students.
Lauren was informed that the EisnerAmper partnership had voted to admit her in October of 2015. “It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment”, she said. “To be on track to become a partner was my goal for many years and to reach that goal is a moment I’ll never forget.” What were her lessons learned moving along the path to partner? “Dedication, first and foremost. I was single-minded about achieving this goal.” What else? “I love the culture and the environment at EisnerAmper. I’ve made it my professional home. I sought and was given increased levels of responsibility, I received amazing mentoring but it was up to me to perform…to succeed.” Her advice to Olin students? “Be well rounded! Be good at many things as these skills will be called upon. Care about your clients. Care about your teammates, stay visible, and communicate up and down the line. Maybe most importantly, make your firm the best it can be by being the best you can be.”
Guest Blogger: Jaclyn Greco, Marketing Manager, EisnerAmper LLP. Thanks to Karen Heise in the WCC for coordinating this blog post.
Image credit: calculator