Accountants Defined as Much by Character as Business Acumen
Our accounting majors gain not only exceptional skills and experiences, but also a moral compass and sense of compassion that sets them apart.
John Santoro ’12 had a choice to make. In his first post-college job with Boston accounting firm Darmody, Merlino & Co., he’d come across a financial irregularity — one of the “gray spaces” in the field that demands sound judgment on the part of the accountant. Though the irregularity’s small sum might be otherwise disregarded amid a busy season, Santoro’s Stonehill sensibilities kicked in and he spoke up.
“It wasn’t just about numbers,” says Santoro, who is now at ESPN, a Walt Disney company, where he performs financial reporting as an accounting analyst. “The college’s moral inquiry requirements had us examining everything through a lens of truth and justice — the idea that someone could be harmed by even a minor financial discrepancy.”
The moral outlook possessed by Stonehill’s accounting major graduates is just one differentiator for a program that also emphasizes other intangible skills, such as networking and teamwork. It is further distinguished by Stonehill’s emphasis on building a more just and compassionate world.
For many Stonehill accounting majors, that goal is brought into practice through groups such as the Beta Alpha Psi honor society, which has volunteers annually at nearby My Brother’s Keeper every year at Christmas, where members select and wrap presents for needy families in the area.
Skills Beyond Numbers
Indeed, explains Alex C. Yen, chair of the Accounting & Taxation Department, numbers themselves are just a subset of the skills demanded in public accounting, the path most Stonehill accounting majors ultimately pursue.
“You need the interpersonal skills to glean information from people, and the writing and communication skills to present findings,” he says. “Recruiters who come to our campus consistently highlight those strengths in our students — they differentiate us from other business schools.”
Stonehill’s wide-ranging liberal arts curriculum — immersing students in humanities, religion, literature and philosophy — helps cultivate these skills, while the comprehensive business curriculum of the Meehan School of Business ensures a cross-disciplinary foundation of knowledge. In addition, Stonehill’s business program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a distinction held by fewer than 5% of college business programs worldwide, requiring rigorous, ongoing curriculum review. As a result, the program consistently works to keep the curriculum current, infusing new technologies and tools, such as data analytics, into courses.
Comfort with Complexity
Additionally, the diversity that the experienced faculty brings to the classroom — from public accounting to consulting and international banking — helps students become comfortable within a range of settings. Beyond public accounting, graduates can be found in corporate accounting and finance roles; some have combined accounting with interests in sociology and criminology to pursue forensic accounting roles, including with the FBI.
Initially interested in a possible FBI career, Jacqueline Flynn ’21 eventually realized accounting itself was her career calling. She completed leadership opportunities at both Deloitte and Ernst & Young (EY), subsequently completed an internship with EY and accepting a full-time assurance role with the firm after graduating. She credits Stonehill-honed leadership skills — she served as president of the Stonehill chapter of the Beta Alpha Psi honor society — and the combination of supportive professors and hands-on experience for her confidence in tackling the intricacies within her EY practice area: health care.
“We were taught how to manage complexity by gathering information independently, then asking critical questions when we come back to the table,” she says. “It wasn’t just ‘do this thing, click this button’; it was how to develop relationships that help you learn and grow in your career.”
A Level Recruiting Field
The program emphasizes career preparation with events that connect students and prospective employers. James Marinelli ’19 found an ideal match in Boston-based Walter & Shuffain, P.C., during an on-campus networking event. He is now a senior accountant at the firm.
“My parents were builders, so the firm’s emphasis on large real estate clients was a major draw,” he explains. “I had a first interview on campus and then a second one in Boston — I’ve been there ever since.”
The constancy of the accounting market makes it an auspicious one for graduates, says Yen. “It’s a field with a very defined recruiting model, where firms bring in interns between junior and senior year of college; if that goes well, you’re probably in line to get a full-time job,” he adds. “It’s an equal playing field with great opportunities for upward mobility.”
The experience of Christian Merino ’23 proves the point. The Brockton native, a son of Central American immigrants, transferred to Stonehill from Massasoit Community College, where a career personality test had pointed toward accounting. Once at Stonehill, Merino quickly discovered mentorship within the Career Development Office. “Both the staff and program professors not only help make the exact connections you need, but also help you navigate what to do once you’re in a professional environment,” he explains.
Following internships at Anchin in New York City and Deloitte in Boston, Merino has a standing full-time offer from Deloitte upon graduation. By serving as a First-Generation Ambassador at Stonehill, he’s helped give back to students with similar backgrounds. “There’s so much support, so many resources here — I want to help others in my shoes succeed by taking advantage of them as I have.”