Jeff Frenster, Director of Employee Relations; Development, Frank, Rimerman + Co.
Here at the firm we grow what we call organically, meaning almost all of our employees or the vast majority of our employees, come up through the ranks and start with us right out of school. The tremendous responsibility that the firm has given me is to work with our first-year associate class. These are accounting majors who just came out of school to serve as their godfather if you will for their whole first year. And so what that involves is everything from helping them make the naturally difficult transition from school where maybe they’re only in class a couple of hours a day to being in an intense professional work environment, helping them navigate toward their chosen area of concentration within accounting.
So they have a year where they get to experiment going around into different aspects of our business before deciding which one they want to do. And then also a big piece of it is I see my mission as instilling values in them that don’t just help them successfully become a second-year associate, but also help them to be able to be successful throughout their whole career.
Degree in engineering from the University of California at Berkeley after high school. And went and did some work in an area working with a defense firm which I actually loved because I was a huge airplane fan and everything and got to go work in various Air Force bases around the world. And that started what I alluded to earlier, the piece that I enjoyed the most was getting a chance to work with people and teach them how to use our systems and everything.
And then after several years I went back and got my masters in business administration from Cornell University where I had a concentration in finance. So I was very passionate about learning about business. It’s a tremendously valuable tool or leg up to have a business background, have a business education, because then you can be much more valuable, have a seat at the table in terms of helping the firm moving forward. Not just from the people aspect but understand how that interacts with the critical needs of the business, what the strategy of the business is, things like that.
I once had a professor who described accounting as the language of business and I think that’s the right way to put it. Another thing that I would want to emphasize is the ability to communicate effectively, both in written and verbal and to establish bonds with people. I think another aspect is what I would call being true to yourself right from the start and listening to your inner voice. Pay very close attention to kind of what lights your fire, what makes you excited, what makes you really engaged. And always listen to that because that is life giving you feedback about where your interests lie.
The other piece of kind of listening to your inner voice is use the people around you. Friends, family, customers, members of the general public that you come in contact with, and listen very carefully because to varying degrees each of them is a mirror or can be a mirror for you if you open your eyes to see how the world sees you.