Navigating your career can sometimes be challenging. Luckily, there are mentors, managers, and others with unique perspectives who can help light the way with their guidance and advice. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you have 30 years under your belt, there’s always something new you can learn from those around you.
We asked a few of our Kreischer Miller team members about the advice they’ve received that’s been the most meaningful to them in their careers. Here are their responses.
Don’t focus on compensation, because you can’t control it. Focus instead on the value that you are adding based on your skills, abilities, and work ethic and the money will follow. And when it comes to your current position, the most important thing is to determine whether you are continually being challenged and learning. This will help you grow and develop yourself. Building your skills and learning are far more important than compensation because they are more valuable in the long-term.
Make sure you work in an environment where you are surrounded by good people. You adopt the habits and behaviors of those you associate with, so you want to be sure you’re adopting the right behaviors.
Always seek great mentors throughout your career. It is more valuable to learn from the experiences of others than to read 100 books on a particular subject.
Mario Vicari, Director, Audit & Accounting
My parents always encouraged me to own my own business so after graduating from college, I set a goal for myself to become an owner in a CPA firm. In all my career moves, I always made it clear to my employer that this was my goal. And I actively sought firms that were growing and had an entrepreneurial spirit, since growing firms create opportunities for those within.
The only exception was when I accepted a position at a bank as the lead internal auditor. I thought it would be valuable to see the services a CPA performs from “the other side of the desk” and to hear what other executives at the bank thought about the firm and its members. Plus, when I was at CPA firms, clients were always asking about bank financing so this experience proved very valuable when I returned to work for a CPA firm.
David Shaffer, Director, Audit & Accounting
The CFO of the company I worked for right out of college once told me, “If you want a degree, go to college; if you want an education, go to the library.” I found this valuable because at the end of the day, a college degree is basically a certificate of completion. You’re guided along a path that is set by the institution and you receive grades which are predicated upon a combination of intelligence and effort. But the idea of going to the library for an education symbolizes the self-initiated effort that is required to further enhance your education and knowledge. It takes initiative and drive to head out on your own and blaze your own path.
Brian Sharkey, Director, Audit & Accounting
On the first day of my new career after graduating from college, my father told me it was a day I should never forget. I wasn’t really sure what he meant but as time went by it became clear. He meant that I should hold onto the feeling of what it was like to be new and just starting out. No matter how many years go by or how senior you become in your career, you have a responsibility to help your team members coming up through the ranks and provide them opportunities to thrive. That is what will ensure a company’s long-term growth and success – as well as your own.
Rob Olszewski, Director, Audit & Accounting
I received two pieces of advice from the first Vice President of Human Resources I worked for and they have stuck with me ever since. First, never be seen without a pen and paper – you never know who you may run into in the hallways. You will always be perceived as prepared. You probably think you will remember what someone tells you by the time you get back to your desk, but often you won’t. There is no worse feeling than having to go back and ask “what did you say?”
And second, to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is not to be! Admittedly, the advice giver was a retired soldier, but this proved me well. He told me that time is a precious commodity and you must respect your own time but most importantly the time of others. Timeliness is the ultimate sign of respect.
Bobbi Kelly, Director, Human Resources
A common saying in the Seeger household has always been “Plan your work, work your plan.” My dad worked in sales and I remember him saying it constantly as I was growing up. To this day I find myself using this mantra and I religiously utilize my Outlook calendar with it in mind. Every day, I spend the last half hour at work setting up my agenda for the following day. I have that time of the day blocked off specifically for this purpose and I leave a printed copy of my agenda on top of my desk before turning off the light. This helps me to leave the office feeling organized (resulting in a lot less stress) and lets me start my day off right as soon as I walk in the door the next morning. There is no time spent wondering, “What was I supposed to do today?” I’m more focused because I’m utilizing my day effectively and I feel productive when I leave. And most importantly, it lets me enjoy my planned “me time!”
Kristin Seeger, Recruiting Manager
If you are a manager and want to be a director, act like a director. If you are a senior and want to be a manager, act like a manager. And if you are a staff and want to be a senior, act like a senior.
Larry Silver, Director, Tax Strategies
The best piece of advice given to me came from Ed Kelleher, Career Transition expert and all around awesome person. He told me that employees are the most successful when they exemplify these five qualities:
- They diligently follow up on meetings, appointments, and deliverables.
- They have a positive outlook. Everyone has had career challenges or has worked in tough companies. Be positive, never negative about your experiences.
- They help others. They approach every meeting or conversation from a viewpoint of how they can be helpful.
- They focus on how they can provide value to you, versus what’s in it for them.
- They are humble enough to admit what they don’t know and what they still have to learn.
Tyler Ridgeway, Director, Human Capital Resources
“To know your client is to love your client.” This advice was given to me very early in my career by a Kreischer Miller director. At the time, I wasn’t able to appreciate the true meaning behind the statement. But as I progressed through my career, I began to understand the advice and it has become the “guts” of how I operate.
Our industry services a multitude of business styles, industry types, and personalities. Positioning ourselves as a member of a client’s internal team, as opposed to limiting our exposure to a client as only third party advisors, provides us insight into their inner workings and what makes them tick. That in turn creates the opportunity for us to advise them on a deeper, more meaningful level, which is what sets Kreischer Miller apart. Once fully understood and implemented, this one piece of advice has proven to make my life easier in relating to and advising my clients.
Lisa Pileggi, Director, Tax Strategies
Years ago, I was in a team meeting where the group was trying to decide the best course of action to handle a significant, sensitive client matter. My boss at the time sat back and really let us hash it out and there were a few times when the discussion got heated. But he kept us on track and we finished the meeting with a consensus on the path forward. At the end, he looked around the room and said, “I want everyone to remember that inside this room we can argue and disagree and do whatever we need to do to get this matter resolved. But once we leave this room, we are a team. We will present a unified front to the client and we all have to be on the same page.”
I never forgot his words. There will be times when you have differences of opinion about how things should be handled. And it can be very productive to get everything out in the open so you can move forward. But you can’t forget that, collectively, you are “the face” of your company to your clients. You have to present a unified front outside your company’s four walls or you put your firm’s brand and its reputation at risk.
Melanie Vivian, Marketing Director
Most people have heard the advice to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I learned this firsthand pretty early in my career. After college graduation, I entered a management training program at a regional financial institution in Philadelphia. After a few months, I met with the executive who oversaw the program to review my progress. I wore a pantsuit, which I thought was appropriate for the meeting and the chilly autumn weather. Apparently, the executive didn’t agree, as I learned very soon after we sat down. He pointed to my feet and said, “If you aspire to become a manager of this organization, you need to dress like a manager, not like a trainee. Those socks are not what we expect a manager to wear and your footwear should always be clean and polished.”
The incident and the executive’s advice have played over and over in my head over the years. Since that meeting, I’m always sure to carefully select my attire and accessories. If I wear comfortable shoes to work but know I have an important meeting during the day, a change of footwear travels with me!
Blythe Seese, Business Development Manager
Here is some more valuable career guidance: