Right on Schedule

Last October, Amelia Emmert became the first member of Vanderbilt’s 2008 inaugural master of accountancy class to reach the level of audit manager.

From the Summer 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Amelia Emmert
Amelia Emmert

From her perspective, there’s no such thing as a typical day for Amelia Nennstiel Emmert, MAcc’08. As an audit manager at EY Nashville, her schedule is dictated by the needs of clients, the teams she supervises, and by the tasks she plots out for herself in advance.

There’s a certain irony in this daily uncertainty, given that Emmert’s career trajectory is right on schedule.

Last October, Emmert became the first member of Vanderbilt’s 2008 inaugural master of accountancy class to reach the level of audit manager. Unlike her varying daily duties, her steady rise—and those of her fellow MAcc alumni—represents exactly what the program’s architects, drawing on input from top firms like EY that serve as partners, envisioned from the start.

“Our program is designed to lay a solid career foundation upon which entry-level professionals can grow,” says Karl Hackenbrack, associate dean and director of accountancy. “Amelia’s success at EY is affirmation that Vanderbilt’s approach is paying off for our graduates and the firms that hire them.”

Six months into the one-year program, Emmert was completing a paid internship at EY as part of her studies—a distinguishing feature of the Vanderbilt MAcc. She had a job offer before the start of Mod 4 in the spring.

Positioned for success

“The program did a great job of preparing me for the interview process,” Emmert says. “We received many opportunities for interaction with professionals at every level within the firm, including partners, and we were able to develop relationships with those people even before offers were extended.”

“As first-year staff, we have set job responsibilities to some degree as key members of the audit team,” Emmert says. “You build on the internship and begin to understand more about the audit process. Second-year staff carry out similar responsibilities as a first-year employee, but with less guidance from the audit senior,” she says.

“Seniors (in their third year with the firm) begin to take ownership of the entire engagement and become more involved in the day-to-day planning and execution of the audit. As a manager, I oversee the audit process for two of our clients and ensure the work is performed with quality and progressing as planned, even though I may not be at the client site every day. I also keep the senior manager and partner informed of our progress, and I am available to the client and the team for questions,” she says.

The new audit manager also takes on additional mentoring responsibilities. “I now have three people in the first-year staff position which I was in five years ago to whom I provide performance management and career advice,” she says.

Forget stereotypes

While her responsibilities have changed considerably in five years, Emmert has found that Vanderbilt prepared her well. That was especially true in the areas of leadership and communication that, to some, might seem peripheral skills for a public accountant.

“The MAcc program taught me to think critically and to be a well-rounded individual, someone who has technical expertise, but who also has good people skills and is known as a go-to for getting the job done,” Emmert says.

“It also helped me polish my communication skills and learn to effectively articulate what I’m trying to say.”