In her six years as a CPA, Ginna Word has seen the industry from both sides of a spreadsheet, as an auditor for Deloitte & Touche, and as a corporate, in-house accountant for The ServiceMaster Co.
The disparate views, she said, have given her a distinct advantage in her current position as recruiter for the Memphis office of Vaco, an upper-level placement and consulting firm.
The Clarksdale, Miss., native and University of Mississippi graduate came to Memphis after receiving a master’s in accounting from Ole Miss to work for Deloitte & Touche, where she’d interned during college.
“I tell people all the time that, graduating from accounting, there is no better way to start a career; you get exposure to so many things,” she said of her tenure at Deloitte & Touche. “What other job can you say that within a year you can be sitting down in the office of a CFO of a public company interviewing them and asking them about their processes and talking with them about their financial statements?”
Word worked at Deloitte & Touche for four years before leaving for ServiceMaster, where she spent a year. When an opening became available at Vaco, she jumped, and it was there that she said she had an epiphany.
“I realized after six years in accounting that, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it – and I learned a lot from it and I wouldn’t trade the experience I had – but I just didn’t love it,” she said. “I wanted that feeling of really having a passion for what I do every day.”
That passion was found at Vaco where, at first, she was “scared to death,” she said, working in the people business to “match very talented people with great companies.”
There has been a shift in the past few years in the recruitment and staffing game. First, as people were laid off in the recession and frantic for work, and now, as things have calmed and evened out, more people are beginning to look around, not for just anything that might come along, but for a career advancement or change.
“In the past nine months to a year, we’ve really seen a lot more movement and people either switching jobs within their company or moving to other companies,” Word said. “I think for a while people were kind of afraid to rock the boat, but as things are improving and the economy seems to be improving, people are starting to look around.”
Word suggests networking and joining associations and organizations within one’s industry to become better acquainted with those involved, and to stay on top of any opportunities that arise.
“There is nothing better than when you find somebody that perfect job and you get to call and tell them they got the job.”
Word is the president of the Memphis chapter of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance, an organization formed in 1938 as the American Society of Women Accountants, that seeks to increase opportunity in the fields of accounting and finance. It is focused on supporting and mentoring young women in the field, but also on the community and “what’s great about Memphis,” she said.
It’s also one that has struggled over the years and is seeking a comeback. Dormant since 2002, it was reactivated in 2009 by then-president Sha Toohig, also a Vaco recruiter. With a recent move in locations for membership meetings to the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, Word hopes to attract accounting students looking for mentorship and guidance from successful women within the industry.
Toohig said Word’s “great energy” is an asset to the profession and to the AFWA.
“It’s nice to have somebody that has lots of different ideas about ways that we can bring new members in and ways that we can try to market a different audience that we haven’t reached out to before,” Toohig said.
To address the Memphis community, past speakers have included Paul Morris, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission. The upcoming meeting on May 23, at 11:30 a.m., will feature guest speaker Jeff Pearson, CFO of ALSAC. More information is available at www.aswamemphis.org.
Word enjoys helping those seeking to break into the industry through the AFWA, as well as newcomers, and recognizing the same epiphany she had with Vaco in the eyes and voices of her clients as they finally find that job that they love.
“There is nothing better than when you find somebody that perfect job and you get to call and tell them they got the job,” she said. “As excited as they are, you can’t help but be just as excited for them. It’s the best feeling at the end of the day.”