Q&A with HK's audit staff #AuditorProud

September 27, 2017

HK’s auditors have a busy schedule, but they took some time to answer a few questions in honor of #AuditorProud day, Sept. 28, 2017. Read on to find out how our pros got started in audit, what the generations can learn from each other, why auditors love Batman, and more!

How did you decide to become an auditor?

Steve Campana, Partner – At the start of my career, that was the natural career path at larger firms.

Brian Powers, Partner – While I was in high school, I met a friend’s father who works in public accounting. At the time, he described his profession which fascinated me. I knew a career in auditing would go well beyond debits = credits!

Lisa Wigington, Partner – Took my first class in high school, and it just clicked. My dad said it was a great profession because businesses need their accountants – in good years and in bad years.

Sue Lawler, Senior Audit Manager – I knew in college that public accounting was the route I wanted to start in. I much preferred auditing over tax. 18 years later, I still love what I do and the client connections I’ve made!

Julie Tanner, Senior Audit Manager – My mother always told me I should be an accountant, and she was right.

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager – Happy accident. I didn’t really decide to become an auditor, I more or less fell into it and loved it so much I’ve made it my career.

Mike Porschke, Audit Manager – It came with time. As I did more auditing, I learned that I enjoyed being on client sites and interacting with numerous client personnel in various departments.

Matt Brumfield, Audit Supervisor – I wanted to get good experience for a successful accounting career.

Ashley Barnett, Senior Auditor – I wanted to pursue a career in accounting that not only had flexibility, but was challenging.

John Schraidt, Staff Auditor – I did not enjoy tax. I am very outgoing and was told that is a big quality to have to be a successful auditor.

Andrew Smith, Staff Auditor – It seemed like a good job to start my career.

Alex Timmerman, Senior Auditor – I enjoyed the audit course I took and college, so I thought I might enjoy auditing in the real world more than some of the other areas of accounting that were out there.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate – My love for accounting and solving puzzles.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate – I became an auditor because I knew I would be challenged, and I enjoy working with people. I’ve always been the one to push myself to a higher standard, and without the challenges, I know it would be a lot harder to keep pushing myself to grow.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate – My interest in accounting started in high school. As I learned more about the profession, I leaned towards audit since it deals with the operations of businesses which have always been an interest of mine. In my senior year of college I was going back and forth with either entering private accounting or public accounting, but then I was asked to interview at HK, and hearing more about what auditors dealt with and the their plans for the future, I felt that pursuing a career in audit would be both beneficial for me now and set a foundation for my career path in the future.

Cassandra Koehler, Audit Associate – I loved the accounting classes I took in college. I knew I wanted a job in accounting, and an opportunity came to apply for an audit position at HK, so I decided to go for it!

Shannon Soppe, Audit Intern – I started at HK as a tax intern in January of 2017 and I really liked the people I was working with and the company I was working for, so I was looking for internships that would be within HK, yet still challenge me and help me gain experience.

What have you learned in your time as an auditor?

Steve Campana, Partner, 36 years – We are a service department not a police department. We use our knowledge to help clients achieve their objectives while complying with GAAP, GAAS and other professional standards.

Brian Powers, Partner, 14 years – Every year is different; auditors and clients evolve. We have the opportunity to embrace that change. There is never a dull moment.

Lisa Wigington, Partner, 30 years – Accounting is a profession that is always changing. To be successful, you need to enjoy change and view it as a challenge. Nothing ever stays the same.

Sue Lawler, Senior Audit Manager, 18 years – Make connections with your clients – your interactions are more fulfilling when connecting beyond just a professional approach.

Julie Tanner, Senior Audit Manager, 20 years – That you never stop learning, and every day is an adventure.

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager, 13 years – Be engaged and open to change – what works today may not be effective tomorrow.

Mike Porschke, Audit Manager, 17 years – Relationships are extremely important! Technical ability is a strong attribute, but you must have strong relationships with your clients and fellow employees.

Matt Brumfield, Audit Supervisor, 7.5 years – As soon as you get caught up/comfortable, expect something to change.

Ashley Barnett, Senior Auditor, 3 years – Everything changes. There are always new accounting pronouncements, auditing procedures, and clients enter into new transactions. As soon as you think you have something figured out, it will change.

Kelli Weland, Senior Internal Auditor, 5 years – “In God we trust, all others we audit.”

John Schraidt, Staff Auditor, 2 years – Time management and being able to juggle a million things at once is a skill not only for auditing, but life in general.

Andrew Smith, Staff Auditor, 1 year – Being organized is key to being good at your job.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate, 2 years – How quickly accounting changes and how important it is to be comfortable with change.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate, 1 year – Although, I have only been in the auditing profession for 8 months, I have learned quite a lot. It is hard to specifically explain one thing that I have learned because everyday I am learning something different whether it is directly related to the audit profession or something that can help me organize daily tasks outside of work.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate, 1 year – I have learned a lot in the last 10 months being an auditor. This includes how to be a better communicator, how to interact with clients and different types of people, how to write audit documentation or document audit evidence, and how to complete audits/reviews/compilations in general.

What do you think other generations can learn from yours?

Steve Campana, Partner, Boomer – Become a life-long learner and embrace the profession.

Brian Powers, Partner, Gen X – Hard work builds personal goodwill that assists you throughout your career.

Sue Lawler, Senior Audit Manager, Gen X – It’s not what other generations can learn from mine, its what we can learn from each other. Each are unique in how they approach a professional career and its balance between work/home life.

Julie Tanner, Senior Audit Manager, Gen X – As long as you work hard you will get where you want to be in your career.

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager, Gen X – Being able to hold a conversation (in person) with people in your professional life is super important, along with the initiative to jump right in to new things and not be afraid to fail.

Mike Porschke, Audit ManagerGen X – Not specifically from my generation, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. See failure as an opportunity to learn something.

Kelli Weland, Senior Internal Auditor, Millennial – I think we can share the technology knowledge.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate, Millennial – How to be innovative and progressive.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate, Millennial – I believe Generation Y has led the workforce to new and improved processes and work culture. Because of this, I believe we have paved a way for generations to come to be happy with their job/career experience due to flexibility and work culture. I also think our generation can show younger generations how you have to work hard to achieve great things.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate, Millennial – I think other generations can learn from ours the power to think outside of the box. In generations before, it was expected to follow a set plan to live life and to be successful. Our generation has proven that you can live a life of twists and turns and still come out the end being successful.

Cassandra Koehler, Audit Associate, Millennial – My generation is great with technology because we were taught how to use computers/electronic devices earlier in life. I think we can teach people in other generations new ways to use technology.

Thom Ottens, Audit Associate, Millennial – To effectively use technology.

Shannon Soppe, Audit Intern, Gen Z – Be open to change and learn to adapt to it. I feel like a lot of the “traditional” views have been altered and accepted by my generation more than others.

What makes your career exciting/fulfilling to you?

Steve Campana, Partner – Our people, our clients, our profession.

Brian Powers, Partner – Auditing financial statements generates the opportunities to work alongside CEOs and CFOs as a trusted advisor.

Lisa Wigington, Partner – Getting to meet business owners in many different industries and helping them through challenging times. Learning from their experience and management styles. Seeing their passion for what they do.

Sue Lawler, Senior Audit Manager – Finding ways to provide value to the client above and beyond the compliance services we provide, whether it be suggestions to improve process or operations or ways to save money. Seeing clients be successful is always exciting.

Julie Tanner, Senior Audit Manager – I love meeting goals and auditing lets me achieve goals with so many different projects.

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager – Each client, each engagement is unique, so every day is different.

Mike Porschke, Audit Manager – Working with like-minded professionals.

Matt Brumfield, Audit Supervisor – Each day is a new challenge.

Amy Tessmer, Audit Supervisor – It is fun to work with a variety of different businesses and people. I like getting out and seeing how different companies operate and learning their business.

Ashley Barnett, Senior Auditor – I really enjoy helping clients make informed decisions.

Kelli Weland, Senior Internal Auditor – I love learning something new every day. Every day is different.

John Schraidt, Staff Auditor – Every day is different and the industry is always changing. There is always room for growth and improvement.

Andrew Smith, Staff Auditor – Getting to learn about different businesses.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate – The satisfaction of completing an audit and helping to achieve a client’s goals.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate – I think my career is exciting because I do different tasks all the time. It is not a monotonous routine, and I am constantly learning new information and growing my people skills. I also enjoy working with a great group of individuals that are trying to achieve the same goals.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate – At this point in my audit career, it is exciting to get through a work paper on my own.

Cassandra Koehler, Audit Associate – I love that every day is different and brings new challenges. It makes coming to work more exciting and enjoyable.

Shannon Soppe, Audit Intern – As an intern I am starting fresh. Basically everyday I’m learning something new and I have a lot of opportunities to find what I like to do.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Steve Campana, Partner – My dad and mom for beliefs, values and work ethic.

Brian Powers, Partner – Superman – what can’t the guy do?

Lisa Wigington, Partner – Batman – definitely Batman. Believe it or not, my significant other’s name is Mike Batman.

Julie Tanner, Senior Audit Manager – Wonder Woman, because I am a woman!

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager – I don’t have a favorite. I enjoy all of the superhero characters for their own reasons. Who doesn’t love a hero?

Mike Porschke, Audit Manager – Iron Man, because of the cool gadgets.

Matt Brumfield, Audit Supervisor – Captain America – I love USA!

Ashley Barnett, Senior Auditor – Peter Olinto.

Alex Timmerman, Senior Auditor – Batman, because he is awesome!

Kelli Weland, Senior Internal Auditor – My favorite “super” hero is my mom. She is an amazing woman and has instilled the values I demonstrate every day. She has made me into who I am today.

Andrew Smith, Staff Auditor – Batman. When he’s not Batman, he’s Bruce Wayne who is a billionaire.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate – Captain America. He’s principled, loves America and is a quality leader.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate – My favorite superhero is Superman. This is because I desire to know what it feels like to be flying through the air like I’m weightless and the feeling that nothing can touch me. I also believe Superman is well rounded because of his powers, and I hope to become extraordinary in a plethora of areas in my lifetime.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate – Captain America. He stands for what is right and fair.

Cassandra Koehler, Audit Associate – Wonder Woman – she can speak any language!

Thom Ottens, Audit Associate – Batman. He’s a normal guy who happens to be a billionaire.

Shannon Soppe, Audit Intern – Gibbs from NCIS. He isn’t an actual superhero, but he should be.

What advice do you have for young people considering a career in audit?

Steve Campana, Partner – Debits are still on the left hand side of the room. As an auditor you are in an excellent position to add recognizable value to the client experience – but remember the fish don’t jump in the boat so you need to work at it.

Brian Powers, Partner – Find an internship or two during school. Internships allow you to “test the waters” before entering your career.

Lisa Wigington, Partner – If you like a challenge, if you like change, if you enjoy an atmosphere of constant learning, audit is the place for you. You will be given the opportunity to meet with clients and help impact their success early in your career.

Sue Lawler, Senior Audit Manager – If you thrive in an environment that is ever changing, you will do well as an auditor. Accounting rules are constantly changing, therefore the auditing and accounting profession introduces new concepts and processes that makes every day new and exciting!

Jen Degenhardt, Internal Audit Manager – Internal auditing is where it’s at! If you have a burning desire to understand how processes work from start to finish, your favorite question is “Why?,” and your motto is either “trust but verify” or “trust is not a control” – internal auditing is for you!

Mike Porschke, Audit Manager – Go for it! It’s a great opportunity to get exposure to numerous businesses, people and industries.

Matt Brumfield, Audit Supervisor – CPA and public accounting experience in audit is valuable.

Amy Tessmer, Audit Supervisor – When you start out in your career, be patient with your career growth and open-minded to all of the new experiences. It takes at least a year in new a position before you feel comfortable in your role and can take on more responsibility.

Ashley Barnett, Senior Auditor – Always remember to pack snacks.

Kelli Weland, Senior Internal Auditor – Education is important. Get your certifications, and find a great mentor to show you the way.

John Schraidt, Staff Auditor – Work on communication skills and being able to articulate. Know how to use Microsoft Office software.

Carter Albrecht, Audit Associate – Don’t be afraid of change and learn to embrace it.

Heidi Engelken, Audit Associate – My advice would be to not slack off in college and to get the most out of the opportunities you are given. I would tell them to take as many internships and opportunities as they can while in college. It is a time to learn and make mistakes and find out what they truly want to do with their life; college is a great stepping stone into the work field. I also would communicate to them that starting a career in audit is not easy. There is a lot to learn, but there are also a lot of people cheering you on along the way to succeed.

Colin Graveen, Audit Associate – With my experience so far, my advice would be to find ways before graduating college to get some kind of exposure to auditing and other types of accounting, whether that is an internship or job shadowing. This will give the individual some type of understanding as to what they could expect to do on a daily basis.

Cassandra Koehler, Audit Associate – Do not lose communication skills with all the technology that is now available to us. Be able to communicate face to face, because client interaction is an important part of the job.

Thom Ottens, Audit Associate – Keep up the good work.

Related Articles

Working remotely
Remote employees impact tax considerations for businesses

March 19, 2024

Examining potential impacts of $78 billion tax package

February 7, 2024

New filing requirement impacting millions of businesses

February 7, 2024