Jessica Iennarella 2013-10-25 12:05:24
Through a Woman’s Eyes, Forensic Accounting I learned at a very young age that women can have successful careers in accounting. For the majority of my childhood, my mother worked as an auditor for a large national CPA firm. In my quest to have an equally prestigious career, I followed her example and majored in accountancy. However, while I wanted many of the benefits of my mother’s career path, I was not interested in becoming an auditor. Instead, I entered the field of forensic accounting as a staff accountant at Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC. One challenge I face working as a forensic accountant is dealing with conflict. Hostilities between opposing parties are a reality of this field. I have been involved in cases in which the opposing party resorted to personal insults and yelling. My immediate reaction is to want to retaliate, but displaying emotional behavior in response is not an effective way to resolve most conflicts. Despite the tactics employed by the other party, I try to maintain my professionalism with a polite but firm attitude, regardless of how I really feel. I have also dealt with emotional clients who have faced disasters, such as small businesses that were closed due to Hurricane Sandy, or people injured in an accident. People who have recently experienced a devastation of some kind oft en display a wide range of emotions. I empathize with the difficulties they face, but I can’t become their grief counselor. Being a professional requires a high level of independence and objectivity. These traits are necessary to establish the level of creditability necessary to resolve issues in our cases. Another challenge in the field of forensic accounting is dealing with constantly changing deadlines. The litigation process is oft en lengthy and complicated. Keeping track of deadlines can be tricky, particularly when dates change due to events which we have no control over. In order to best serve our clients, we try to provide our work product to them prior to the court deadline. This means we have even less time to respond when deadlines get moved up. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is always a challenge, and planning around deadlines that change makes this balance even more difficult. There have been times when I am unable to participate in family-related activities because a deadline moved and created a time crunch. Prioritizing cases and family activities is a judgment call that has to be constantly evaluated to ensure that deadlines are met on time and that family time is not shorted more than absolutely necessary. Despite the challenges of working as a forensic accountant, there are many benefits to the job. I work with clients all over the United States, and this long-distance relationship allows for greater flexibility in my work schedule. Because most of the data is electronic, I can access it from my computer anywhere that I have access to secure wireless Internet. This means that I can work from home if a personal or family situation makes it difficult to come to the office. Epps Forensic Consulting is especially open-minded to unique work situations. One of my fellow employees works 10-hour days, 4 days a week and takes Fridays off to help her husband with their three children. Although being in the office is important for developing relationships with fellow employees and training, having the option of working outside of the office when I need to is an attractive benefit of the job. In addition to having more flexibility in my work schedule, I also have the opportunity to connect with a variety of empowered men and women. Observing how they handle situations offers unique insight into dealing with challenge and adversity. I recently had the opportunity to work with an owner of seven franchise locations of a major fast food chain. All seven of her stores were at least temporarily shut down due to Hurricane Sandy, and two of them were completely destroyed. In addition, her and her husband’s personal residence was severely damaged. Watching the determination and courage with which she has rebuilt her life and her businesses is an inspiration. Her story is just one of many I have encountered during my short career. Regardless of whether they are a client or opposing counsel, I appreciate having the opportunity to learn from other professionals. As with many other career fields, being in the field of forensic accounting has both positive and negative aspects to it. Dealing with moving deadlines, emotional clients and over-the-top conflict resolution styles is challenging. However, I also have a relatively flexible work schedule and the opportunity to learn from a variety of other learned individuals. Overall, I love my job and the field of forensic accounting. I am constantly growing in my career, and feel respected as both a woman and a professional. Jessica Iennarella joined Epps Forensic Consulting while enrolled in the Master of Accountancy program at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. She graduated in May 2012 and became a certified public accountant this past March. Her experience as a staff accountant has included calculating economic damages in relation to personal injury and insurance claims, assisting in the investigation of employee theft in a variety of industries and in the analysis of financial condition of both businesses and individuals. For more information, please call (480) 595-0943 or visit www.eppsforensics.com.
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