Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Assured of Our Futures

Our final morning in Chicago proved to be the most challenging with bussing. We had to make a transfer to reach our location and our careful directions, printed faithfully from goroo, were not the most accurate. After a few brief conversations with city bus drivers (a remarkably friendly group of folks), we made it to the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). We then provided our driver’s licenses to security, who printed individualized passes for each of us to use to go through the metal detectors for admittance to the 16th floor. We were visiting Ernst & Young in their last month of occupancy in the Willis Tower. They are moving to a new location a few blocks away.

Ernst & Young welcomed us with water and muffins, a welcome treat after our bussing adventure. We were greeted by one of the campus recruiters, Ms. Katie Goldenburg , who was responsible for organizing our visit. Our presentation was given by Mr. Greg Bednar and Mr. Ryan Butman, who gave us an excellent overview of the four different service areas of Ernst & Young. Our group immediately dove into questions, learning what an audit was and what other areas of support Ernst & Young provides for businesses. Mr. Bednar highlighted the three big focus areas of the firm: people, quality, and growth. Ernst & Young has a well-established relationship with Indiana University and Kelley, hiring 60 people from IU for internships and jobs each year and providing funding for diversity and leadership initiatives.

Ryan is a Kelley grad who shared his journey to Ernst & Young. He described how he came to the firm a little over 8 years ago, and how he has continually found opportunities for development and growth within the firm. He is currently in Transaction Advisory Services, which means that he works with companies who need a closer look at different aspects of their business. He shared the example of a company who manufactures cars and is concerned about the supply chain for the car components. His area might help this company assess the health of the constituents in the supply chain, so that the company can be flexible in billing practices to allow for the continued production of the needed components.

This visit was an excellent snapshot into the world of a Big Four accounting firm. We learned that Ernst & Young can offer opportunities in marketing and consulting, in addition to the traditional auditing functions. One of our participants remarked as we walked away from the Willis Tower, “I think that just changed my entire career path. I never knew that all those things existed there.” It is precisely this kind of reflection that I hoped this trip would provide to participants.

These students are returning to campus with a broader vision of their future. For some, this trip cemented their interest in business. For others, it has opened their eyes to brand new possibilities they didn’t even know existed. Regardless of where they began, they are entering their first business classes this fall with a richer, more informed perspective. I can’t wait to see what they tell me about their first few weeks in classes!

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