The public accounting career path typically starts with an entry-level position as a staff accountant and advances into a managerial role. To rise to the position of accounting partner, you need to be confident and have excellent people and communication skills.
The Path to Partner requires a technical or audit background and an understanding of forensics. Or, if you are like Niki Doctor, you are overall well-rounded. Niki is one of the Partners in our Pleasanton office and we asked her about her journey along her Path to Partner.
Tell us your story and how you decided on a career in accounting.
I started learning accounting during my junior year of high school. It quickly became my favorite subject. I felt so passionate about accounting that I decided to pursue a degree in that field. After coming to the USA, I got my first job in a tax practice. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make a career in the tax accounting profession.
How did education play a role in your career success?
Working in public accounting requires strong knowledge of accounting standards as well as taxation laws. It also requires the ability to learn quickly as tax laws are always evolving. No matter how much you learn, nothing can fully prepare you for the constant changes in tax laws. My education not only gave me the foundational knowledge to succeed in this space but also the ability to learn quickly.
Did you have a strategy for becoming a partner? If yes, what was it?
I openly discussed my career goals with the leadership team from the beginning. They gave me the opportunity to lead specific initiatives geared towards broader business development as well as improvement in business operations. I had to go above and beyond my normal role to pave the path to become a partner. I am very grateful to B+Co for giving me this opportunity.
What has been the proudest moment on your path to Partner?
Along the way, I have received many emotional letters of appreciation from clients and employees. Being able to make that impact gives me a lot of gratification and a sense of pride in my work.
What are some of your bigger challenges at work and how do you tackle them?
Tax seasons are stressful months for our industry, as our work is driven by tax filing deadlines. As a working mom, it is quite challenging to maintain a work-life balance during those times. Time management skills are vital to managing this challenge. Also, clients may have unique and complex problems which require researching multiple sources of information. I try to manage the complexity by breaking down the problem into smaller, manageable chunks and then synthesizing all the research to present a bespoke solution for the client.
How has it been working remotely over the past year? What tools or attitudes have you used to adapt?
In a remote working setup, it is critical to have the right digital tools to collaborate with the clients as well as the broader team. Thankfully we had invested in various cloud-based technologies for meetings as well as collecting client documents. The remote work accelerated the adoption of those tools. I do miss all the social interactions like kitchen conversations and tax season lunches with the team. On a positive note, we started having video calls with clients instead of just phone calls. I felt this was more engaging and effective.
There are some truly busy work months in accounting. What is it that drives or motivates you at work?
I enjoy helping clients and solving complex taxation problems for them. Being able to make a positive impact in their life and business motivates me to do my best every day.
Are you able to find a work/life balance? What are some things you enjoy outside of work that bring you that balance?
It can be challenging to find a work-life balance during tax seasons. However, I get a lot of support from my husband and my family has adapted to this over the years. I do make up for it during summer and winter when the work is not as busy. In my free time, I like to work out, travel, and play board games with my kids.
Are there leaders in the industry or leadership traits that you admire? Who or what are they?
I believe that leadership is about empowering and enabling the team to do the best work of their lives and helping them grow in their careers.
What is your leadership style, and how have those influences helped shape your style?
I set up the team for success by providing the right context and guidance to deliver on any initiative. Also, I proactively manage the client expectations to ensure the team does not have to deal with the stress of delivering against unrealistic deadlines.
What kind of advice do you give other women who are entering the field? Are there challenges that you think women in the industry face specifically?
The industry has evolved a lot. As per the current trend, more and more women are entering the field. I will say it is much easier nowadays to stay in this industry. Firms offer a lot of flexibility. If you are facing challenges, don’t be shy to speak up. If you work hard towards your goal and vision, you will be successful one day.
What do you think is the next evolution in Public Accounting?
Public Accounting has changed dramatically over the years. The industry is adopting technology faster than ever. The compliance part is going to be there, but it will be automated in the coming years. The consulting and advisory practice will play a very crucial role in the coming years.
What is life at Bregante + Company LLP like? What are the positives about your time with the company?
B+Co is an amazing place. I get to work with a diverse set of clients across many industries and get to learn a lot about their business. I also get to work with amazing colleagues and leaders who have been very supportive at every step of my career. We work hard, but also plan a lot of fun activities. Overall, it is like an extended family for me. I am blessed to be a part of this amazing firm/family, and I don’t know how to put this feeling in words. I am short of words.