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Explain your career path.
After graduation in December 2011, I was placed up in the Northeast with a sales company. I quickly discovered, sales was not my cup of tea, and quickly regretted taking my first offer. Six months of living in Connecticut, I landed a job working for United Way of Connecticut for a small town. I helped budget their 1 million dollar budget, held 2 positions in the office, and led program coordination for events throughout the year. After holding this job for a few months, I took a 3rd position as a accountant for a small in home firm. That is where things led to my first "real" accounting job. Shortly after, I received an offer with MARS Chocolate. I moved to Kansas where I opened up their first Chocolate plant in several decades. I took the position as Sr. Cost Accountant and started to grow my career. I lead waste improvement projects on Snickers and M&M's manufacturing lines. I ate my weight in Chocolate, and learned a lot about corporate accounting and manufacturing accounting.
After 3.5 years in Kansas, I got a promotion in 2016 to Nashville TN to become a Sr. Financial Analyst for MARS Pet care. I helped lead a team of 7 Accountants, and 6 Manufacturing facilities in my time at Mars Chocolate. This in turn helped me guide the business in decisions on Co-manufacturing and Co-Packaging operations with major brand names like, Whiskas, Ol'Roy, Sheiba, Cesars, and Temptations in Nashville. After 8 months in Nashville, I received an offer from Bridgestone Americas Corporate office to join their Team.
Since then, I have led a team of 4 Controllers/ Cost Accountants through annual budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars. I've managed a total of 4 manufacturing facilities alone ranging all the way from Jacksonville FL, to Anoka MN.
What was your major at Southeast and what led you to that?
My Major at Southeast was Accounting.
Why did you choose to attend Southeast?
Honestly, I had chose Southeast because of its reputation and many of my high school friends were planning on going. In total, 8 close friends decided on Southeast and that is what led me to Cape Girardeau.
Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?
I actually have 2. my first one was one time at band camp ( as funny as this sounds, its true), our professor sat us down and said, "I've been in this professional career for X amount of years, and I still don't know what i want to do" and basically assured us, its okay not know what you want to do, but be sure you love what you are doing. That led me to choose a career that I knew was something I loved to do, and that was Math.
My second, wasn't until I officially had changed my major to Accounting the spring semester of my Sophomore year. My Accounting professor, Roberta Humphrey. She pushed me to learn everything I could in that first semester in Accounting, and had an approach that truly helped me in my learning abilities. As crazy as it sounds, I loved going to that class. I knew it was gong to be hard, but it was a fun challenging kind of hard. I can honestly say, I never studied so hard for any other class in my entire life, until intermediate accounting 1 came along.
Share your best college memory.
One of my best college memories was living in the Dorms, and making so many friends, I couldn't keep track of names. One evening, during Finals week in December 2010, I decided to dress into a Gorilla suit and walk the campus. A few friends and myself included, made stops around all the major study areas, just to shed some laughter at a Gorilla trying to get a computer to work before finals.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?
Hard work pays off! If there is anything I learned, it was hard work and dedication pays off. Never give up, always be on time and be a team player.
Describe Southeast in three words.
Energetic, Spirit, Home
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My Greatest Professional Accomplishment was receiving a Finance Award for my work on our budget process at Mars Chocolate. I worked diligently on speeding up the process and giving our business leaders extra time to review our estimated costs and plan for the next Fiscal year.
How did your education at Southeast prepare you for what you are doing today?
Currently, I'd say my education comes down to 1 class I had in college. Managerial Accounting (Accounting II). Our professor specifically said, "Most accounting majors will hate this class, Non-Accounting majors will love it". I remember specifically saying, I'll NEVER be a Cost Accountant, yet 4 years later I was sitting at MARS Chocolate leading a team of Cost Accountants.
Mostly all of my Accounting classes have come into play while leading a plants manufacturing activities financially. Not a day goes by do I regret my Major.
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
I'd say, don't give up! So many people say "It's too hard", "It's just so much homework". But I promise, you degree is very highly regarded in the real world, and most people never get the chance to understand what you've had the opportunity to master.
What do you wish you had known before graduating and entering the "real world"?
I wish I'd known just how many times life is going to throw curve balls at you. Always have a backup plan in your mind. I wish I had known not to settle on the first opportunity to present its self. I wish I would have taken just a few hundred dollar and invested into Bitcoin, Amazon and Tesla. All jokes aside, trust your peers, they've been through the ringer a few times and know what they are taking about.