Stan VanderToolen is a Certified Public Accountant from Salt Lake City, Utah. In his childhood, he was determined to become a doctor but when he arrived at the University of Utah as a freshman undergraduate student, his failing grades in science courses was a sure sign that he was not a good fit for the job. He managed to find an influential figure in his life who questioned what he was going to do as a career and told him of two fields that will explode in the future: engineering and public accounting. He already knew engineering wasn’t for him, so he went the accounting route.
In VanderToolen’s talk, he moved on to explain the answer to the question “what exactly is public accounting?” Many people have stereotypes about accountants, and Stan did as well when he first heard about the profession. As he took his first accounting class, he realized that he was indeed quite good at it! He decided he wanted to be a lawyer and one of his professors made taxes and accounting principles very interesting to him. After undergraduate studies, he applied to law schools with his mediocre LSAT score and wanted to go to BYU. However, after speaking with a few lawyers in the profession, he understood the intense amounts of reading required and decided on accounting instead. Now, how did he end up at PwC? Dan Campbell helped him get there. Coincidentally, Dan is now VanderToolen’s client in public accounting today.
Finally, Stan went on to describe the firm he works for. PwC is not just an accounting firm, it’s a global professional firm which provides services in assurance, taxes, and advising to 84% of the Fortune Global 500 companies. Assurance includes auditing, taxes includes working
with top companies, and advising is equivalent to consulting. PwC is ranked as one of the top 10 most powerful brands by BrandFinance and serves a diverse group of firms in 158 countries. He emphasized how PwC takes young students right out of college and throws them right into the action to start working with the biggest and best companies. The “big picture” of PwC includes why they do what they do, what they’ll do to meet the needs of their clients, and how they will achieve that. This firm’s purpose is to build trust in society to solve important problems and to really provide a service to the world by making a difference, acting with integrity, working together, and treating clients with care. Teamwork in the accounting field was highly emphasized because as Stan explained, it is a daily process.
Overall, Stan is a huge advocate for the public accounting profession as a whole. Attending his talk really opened my eyes to the field a lot more, because I did have that “desk job” stereotype in my mind. It would be very interesting to speak more in-depth with him in order to find out how he handles the life-work balance and more.
Written by Sara Wilson