IMA Life: Meaningful MentoringBy
Recently I attended the University of Denver (DU) IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) student night and was asked to share my story here with the readers of Strategic Finance. I walked away feeling proud, as I rarely take time to reflect on the nontraditional accounting path I’ve taken or to acknowledge the support I’ve received that’s afforded me such a wonderful career.
I graduated from DU with an economics degree during the mid-1990s, and anyone who graduated at a similar time knows this feeling. There were no jobs. Even the accounting and finance majors had a difficult time finding work. So I took the best opportunity available, working the graveyard shift on a production line at a medical supply company. I was working graveyard, studying for the GMAT, and coaching basketball. Juggling all of that at the same time was exhausting. Knowing I couldn’t survive at this pace, I took the first job I could find on the day shift: staff accountant. This is how my career began—out of desperation and exhaustion.
It was during this role that I met one of the most influential people in my life—my mentor, Karen Welborn (above right in photo). At that time, I didn’t acknowledge she was my mentor; I simply thought she was giving me advice because she could see that I was lost and had no idea what I was doing. We still laugh about the time I told her I would never have a career in accounting—I’d said it was boring and that I’d never spend the rest of my life sitting at a desk! I didn’t realize at the time that she was giving me confidence to take on an accounting and finance career, a role that I hadn’t planned for and that, in fact, intimidated me.
Karen and I remained friends through my multiple jobs, promotions, degrees, states, and relationships. Karen was the Education Chair for IMA’s Denver-Centennial Chapter, and she convinced me to pursue the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant)certification. Though still uncertain, I jumped at the opportunity to spend more time with her. In 2000, Karen’s wise advice guided me to take a risk and leave IBM for Coors Brewing Company, where I’ve enjoyed a very diverse career in sales and supply chain accounting as well as procurement and business transformation.
In my current role at Molson Coors as the Global Business Process Owner, RTR Finance, I’ve traveled the world and met the most wonderful people in Golden, Colo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Canada; U.K.; India; and Romania. This unique business transformation role gives me the opportunity to work in a global environment and use logic, ERP implementation skills, teamwork, process expertise, and my accounting knowledge to assist in the transformation of Molson Coors into a truly global organization.
My accounting career isn’t traditional, but it’s a path that continues to move forward or, as I’m fond of saying, that’s directionally correct. I’ve taken on new challenges in a variety of roles and found support from family, friends, colleagues, and people who have been active in contributing to and investing in my success. In my ever-changing career, Karen has been a source of stable guidance, and she is likely laughing right now: I’m doing exactly what I told her 20 years ago that I’d never do. And I am loving it!