Different Paths at BDO

FROM THE MARINES TO AUDIT

Jason Voth | Experienced Assurance Associate, Houston

After serving in the military for several years, Jason Voth was ready for his next challenge: the world of assurance.

“‘Non-traditional’ is probably an understatement for what I’ve done in my life. But my experiences make me who I am, and I’m proud of that.”

For Texas born and bred Jason Voth, his career path has been anything but expected. Following a short stint in the construction industry, Jason joined the Marine Corps while pursuing a degree in political science. But after two deployments – in Iraq and in Afghanistan – and only a semester left until graduation, Jason decided to change direction, once again.

CONTINUE READING

“With poli sci,” he said, “you’re really either going to go into politics or public administration. I realized I didn’t have the patience – or diplomacy – for those, so I switched over to accounting.”

Jason and accounting ended up being a perfect match: he graduated from The University of Houston with a master’s degree in accounting in 2014. Determined to find a position in tax, Jason interviewed with several firms, both big and small, until he fell in love with BDO.

“BDO was my Goldilocks,” Jason said. “From the moment I walked in the door, I knew it would be a great fit. I loved the office, I loved the clientele, and I absolutely loved the culture. It was the firm I had been looking for.”

There was only one problem: BDO didn’t have any openings in tax. Instead, the firm offered Jason an internship in assurance, with the promise that if he didn’t like it, different opportunities would be available to him.

“Just the fact that they were willing to work with me was really important,” Jason explained. “I was already hooked on the firm, the culture, and the clients. The rest was just something to work out along the way. I ended up falling in love with assurance and sticking with it, so I haven’t regretted my decision since.”

A self-proclaimed accounting nerd, Jason brought his enthusiasm for numbers – and love of working with people – to his internship, which eventually led to a full-time position with the firm. At BDO, Jason has been able to apply his extensive military background, drawing direct parallels between military life and the world of assurance.

“Just like in the military, here, you expect some long hours and hard work. But the most important thing is camaraderie. When there’s a tough project or a hard deadline looming, you have to come together as a team, to figure out how to get it all done. And it all comes down to morale. In any job, there are going to be good days and not-so-good days, but it’s all about the people around you.”

Since joining the firm, Jason has focused on the oil and gas industries, and has worked with several clients in construction. And although he fulfilled his obligation to the military before joining BDO full-time, Jason is still involved in the veteran community. Working with veteran support groups, Jason is always happy to offer advice to anyone who is considering their options for life after the service.

“The military is full of passionate people,” he said. “You’re proud of the work that you do in the military, and you should be equally proud of the work you choose to do after it. So find something you love. Just like in the service, every job is going to have its highs and lows, but if you can find something you’re truly passionate about, you’ll find your own success.”

COMING BACK TO BDO

Andy Wellsandt | Assurance Senior Associate, Spokane

After interning at a big firm in Seattle, Andy Wellsandt knew he wanted to work with big clients – just not in the big city.

“When I was going through the recruiting process, I was pretty allergic to the idea of living in a big city, as well as the culture at some of the other large firms. But at the same time, I wanted the knowledge and experience you get working on larger clients.”

Unwilling to live in Seattle, Andy eventually learned that BDO’s Spokane offices occupied a unique niche. There aren’t many other large accounting firms in Spokane, which means that BDO serves an exceptional range of big, dynamic clients – while still maintaining the more personal feel of a smaller office.

CONTINUE READING

“For me, the Spokane office is really the best of both worlds. You get the work-life balance, but also tremendous professional opportunity. You get the chance to work with exciting clients, and because the office here is a little smaller, you get to work alongside the partners pretty much every day.”

After interviewing at BDO and receiving an offer, the deal was sealed. At BDO, Andy worked in the assurance practice, serving a wide variety of both public and private companies, in industries ranging from mining to real estate.

A year later, however, Andy was forced to make a significant choice, both personally and professionally. He and his wife had to decide whether to move, which would, for Andy, mean leaving BDO.

“My wife was teaching part-time in Spokane, since it was a little hard to find teaching jobs out here at the time. But she was able to find a full-time position at a school she really liked in a town called Pullman.”

As it turned out, Andy had worked for a small tax accounting firm there as well, while he was still a student at Washington State. So at first, the arrangement seemed perfect: they’d move to Pullman, settle down, and live happily ever after.

Life, however, doesn’t always go as planned. After only a short time at his new firm, Andy began to realize he might have made a mistake.“I was working on really small clients, doing only tax work – mostly farm tax and individuals. It wasn’t as challenging, and there wasn’t the same culture of growth – I didn’t feel like I was working to build something, at either a personal or firm-wide level.”

Andy felt that BDO, in comparison, offered far more in the way of long-term opportunity. From advising complex M&A transactions to forming deeper relationships with clients, Andy felt he was just better suited for a career at BDO.

“When we decided to move, it was a really hard choice. We really didn’t know how good we had it in Spokane, and I didn’t realize how good I had it at BDO.”

And so, after only about a year, Andy and his wife decided the best thing for both of them would be to make the move back to Spokane – and for Andy to return to BDO. He is now thriving in the office’s assurance practice, pursuing the same kind of work he fell in love with from the start.

“If I could go back, I probably wouldn’t have left BDO, but I did get some good insight out of the experience. I learned I preferred assurance to tax, and realized how important culture is. BDO’s core values, its culture of growth and innovation – I really haven’t seen that anywhere else. It’s great to be a part of.”

AROUND THE WORLD WITH BDO

Jessica DeSantis | Tax Senior Associate, Charlotte

Most people learn a lot during their first few years on the job. But few learn it on a different continent.

When Jessica DeSantis was choosing an accounting firm for her internship, she had two requirements: international opportunities and friendly co-workers. She found both at BDO.
“BDO is one of the largest accounting firms in the world. You have opportunities like secondments, BDO’s international exchange program, which you wouldn’t get with a regional firm. And unlike other larger firms the people are friendly and warm.”

Jessica wasn’t certain if she wanted to specialize in audit or tax, but in the end she had a gut feeling about what was right for her and chose tax. She went with her instincts a second time, when she chose to accept an offer from BDO.

CONTINUE READING

“I had good conversations with people at BDO during the recruiting process; I just genuinely liked them. I think tax people like me tend to be ‘Type A,’ and we like to be logical. But when making these kinds of decisions, you have to trust yourself and go with what feels right.”

Once Jessica, a University of North Carolina grad, arrived in BDO’s Charlotte office, she knew she had made the right choice. Every day presented a new challenge, and she never stopped learning and developing communication skills when working with clients. It wasn’t long before BDO’s international work opportunities caught her eye. Jessica spoke to her career advisor about the possibility of working overseas, and eventually decided to pursue a three-month secondment in Australia.

Jessica, who hadn’t traveled much previously (she had to get a passport especially for the trip), was at first a little nervous. Luckily, she had BDO to help her with the transition – the firm funded some of her expenses, like her apartment and flight.

“The experience was literally life changing, and also something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I read voraciously as a child, and I always had a great desire to go abroad and travel.”

The experience also added greatly to her professional knowledge. She jumped right in to help the partners, learning the differences between tax systems in the U.S. and Australia. And in working on BDO Australia’s international clientele, she even had to analyze bank statements in German.

“It was a constant challenge for me every day, and it ended up being such a good learning experience. I learned about Australian taxation and enriched my knowledge of taxation in the U.S. as well.”

Jessica developed an admiration for the easygoing Australian lifestyle, and she returned home to Charlotte with many valuable lessons learned. “From a personal perspective, the experience taught me more about work-life balance, and I’m trying to be better about that now.”