Lessons learned: From audit partner to consultant
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Lessons learned: From audit partner to consultant

Mar 12, 2023 · 3 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Young professionals may find themselves at some point in their career journey asking themselves, “Is this really what I'm meant to be doing?” And the questions of career changes can become overwhelming.

There are myriad reasons that individuals may decide to make a career pivot — perhaps seeking professional growth and development, desiring a more challenging work environment, wanting a change of pace or needing better benefits, flexibility or pay.

It's critical to make strategic decisions when it comes to navigating your career and your professional growth.

I started my career in audit at a public accounting firm in 2007 straight out of college. I worked my way up and, in the summer of 2020, I finally earned a promotion to audit partner. This was a career accomplishment that I had strived for since college. I had finally made it. I learned so much throughout my career and knew there would be more to learn.

In 2022, however, after personal reflection, I concluded that the role as audit partner wasn’t the best fit for me. I felt that my personal values and interests better aligned with another area of the firm. Rather than resign, I transitioned to our consulting service line.

Why I made the switch

I loved the relationships I had built with colleagues and clients throughout my career, but I was ready for something new. By no means do I think I know it all, nor do I think the audit job is easy, but I came to the point where I needed a different growth opportunity.

It was nice to be able to stay at the firm I love and continue cultivating my existing relationships, while trying something new after 15 successful years.

Another benefit of making the switch to the consulting division was that I was able to establish deeper relationships with clients and support their organizations through various challenges. This type of work, helping others, really resonated with me and gave me a passion for what I do each day.

Finally, there are many colleagues who are also aspiring partners, but partner seats are limited. With my move to consulting, I can potentially open a seat for someone else just as deserving to join the partnership ranks.

Should you make a switch?

Have you been contemplating a career transition and aren't sure where to start? Often, with experiencing change, there may be times of doubt.

It has been almost a year since I made the switch from audit to consulting, and there have been times when I have thought, “What was I thinking?” But all growth opportunities come with challenges. If the role is right for you, you will learn to overcome these challenges and, like me, you will end up telling yourself, “This is definitely why I made the switch!”

As you weigh the pros and cons of making a pivot, it might help to talk with mentors and advisers about the change to help determine if it’s the right move for you.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether a switch is right for you:

  • Do your values and passions align with the work you’re doing? When it does, it makes showing up for work each day easier. Although any job has its own set of challenges, reframing them as opportunities may be easier when the work is aligned with your personal values.

  • You will experience a learning curve. Going from knowing a lot to knowing a lot less can be a challenge. For example, a challenge may be learning new technical skills or how to manage people.

  • If you have been in your position for a while, you may have built long-lasting relationships with colleagues that may not be replicated in your new role. You will have to decide how important that type of change is for you.

  • You may experience an adjustment in your work schedule that you will need to adapt to.

It may sound simple but make a list of pros and cons of your current role. Writing your thoughts helps you identify trends and visualizing your list may also help your decision process.

Here are a few potential upsides of making a change:

  • A learning curve could be exactly what you want or need at this point in your career.

  • You may find you’ll have new colleagues to guide your transition and support your new role.

  • Your previous working relationships may strengthen as you lean on these people as mentors and sounding boards for your new role. You’ll get to build new relationships, meeting more people and expanding your network.

  • Your busy season could change to a more convenient time for you. If you’re a caregiver, for example, the change could foster more quality time with family during parts of the year when they may be on break or need help with schoolwork.

For me, I have enjoyed the switch and look forward to exploring my new career, strengthening client relationships and uncovering new opportunities for my personal and professional development.

If you decide you're ready for a change, determine if there are opportunities for you at your current organization. Or if you’re looking for outside opportunities, consider visiting the Global Career Hub to spark your interests.

Eugene Park, CPA

Eugene Park, CPA, is a consulting partner with Heinfeld, Meech & Co. P.C. His responsibilities include providing management advisory services, the professional development of staff associates, and serving as the lead recruiter for the Scottsdale office. He has served as a member of several committees within the firm, including audit and accounting, client conference planning, wellness, and fun committees. In addition to these responsibilities, he serves on the Arizona Society of CPAs (ASCPA) Board of Directors as well as treasurer of the executive committee of the ASCPA's board of directors, ASCPA's Leadership and Growth Alliance Committee and the AICPA's Young Member Leadership Committee. Park graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Accounting. He also earned the AICPA Advanced Single Audit Certificate in 2016. He is a 2019 graduate of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Leadership Academy.

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