First female top 25 accounting firm CEO visits the University

By Shawn Adderly

Standing in front of bright lights in Deloitte Auditorium at the Business Instructional Facility, the future first female chief executive officer of a top 25 public accounting firm spoke animatedly about how to achieve a successful career.

On June 1, Krista McMasters, a 1978 alumna, will assume the role of CEO at Clifton Gunderson LLP, the 14th largest accounting firm in the U.S.

McMasters’ visit comes as part of the 2008-’09 College of Business Lyceum series, which brings in business leaders to talk about their careers and life experiences.

The audience was comprised mostly of students taking business courses.

Tiffany Olbrot, senior in ACES, felt McMasters’ achievements showed how far women have come in the world of business.

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“Throughout history our world has denied half the population equal employment opportunity on the basis of gender,” Olbrot said. “Had women been given the opportunity we have today, how many Kris McMasters would we have had today?”

McMasters said she felt that accounting is a profession not hampered by gender.

McMasters said she grew up in Catlin, Ill., in a blue-collar family and decided to study accounting at the University. She said she believes that her University education greatly helped her understand her field.

“This is a very strong accounting program,” McMasters said.

When asked about her career achievements, she said, “if it helps other women realize that they can achieve the kind of success that I have, then that satisfies me.”

She added women should feel their capabilities are equal to men in the workforce.

McMasters’ talk emphasized finding and pursuing things that people are passionate about. She said her definition of a successful person is “someone who feels like they are making a difference, invests in their own career development and is financially secure.”

She also talked about students’ transition to the work place and advised them to listen to feedback from colleagues.

“Successful people do not have any problem at all with being managed and being held accountable,” McMasters said. “Finding a good mentor and asking the right questions in your job is very important when you don’t understand something.”

Ira Solomon, professor and head of the accounting department, said he felt students enjoyed the presentation and that McMasters was a very articulate and approachable speaker.

“It is always nice to have leaders visit, especially when they are one of our own,” Solomon said.

Students also seemed to be receptive to McMasters’ talk. Angela Randle, senior in Business, said she thought this was the best Lyceum event offered this semester.

“She didn’t just talk about facts and figures, instead she gave good career advice,” Randle said.

Joseph Chavez, senior in Business, also said he felt the talk gave very helpful advice.

“I like that she emphasized that you need to have a life and not only be career oriented,” Chavez said.