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.
“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.”
Andy Wellsandt | Assurance Senior Associate, Spokane
COMING BACK TO BDO
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.
“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.”
Tony Lawrence | Office Managing Partner, Assurance
FROM INTERN TO PARTNER
In 1995, Tony Lawrence was just a college student, looking for an internship.
In fact, he hadn’t even heard of BDO. At the time, Tony was going through the on- campus recruiting process at Grand Valley State University. Like many students, he was interviewing at a number of firms – both large and small – trying to get a sense of where he wanted to start his career.
“I was actually killing time between two interviews when I ran into a recruiter from BDO,” Tony recalls.
The recruiter asked if Tony had a few minutes to talk, and what started out as a chance encounter turned into a major career opportunity.
“It was the most unique, most productive interview I’ve ever had, since there were no expectations on either side. We were able to talk frankly about what I wanted from a career, and the kinds of opportunities BDO could afford me.”
That informal discussion led to an office interview, which in turn led to an internship offer. Tony ultimately selected BDO out of five opportunities. In the end, he says, the choice came down to the people.
“BDO was more concerned about who I was as a person, not just whether I’d be willing to work Saturdays. The culture provides the support and mentorship you need to start building a career.”
After completing his internship, Tony accepted a full-time job offer without a second thought.
“I never even considered going to another public accounting firm. BDO was just a much better opportunity. In one year, you’ll see five industries, and companies ranging in size from $30 million to a billion dollars. Some of our clients are smaller, which means they need more things from BDO. That kind of experience gives you a much broader skill set.”
The rest, as they say, is history; Tony stayed on at BDO, working his way up over the course of 14 years, leaving for just one year to work in-house as a financial analyst at a global manufacturing company, a move he says he regretted “after three months.”
“I left because I was worried about having the opportunity to move upward, which was rather misguided. Not to mention that the work was less varied, and less exciting.”
In the end though, what brought Tony back to BDO – and what keeps him here today – is the same thing that drew him to the firm almost 20 years ago: the people.
“When you’re choosing a house, it’s all about location. When you’re choosing a job, it’s about the people.”