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Former Big4 Auditor stresses attitude and expertise

 By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager

The middle of 2007 was when all of Joe Auer’s hard work started to come together. Just before that, he’d interned with KPMG for 10 weeks in the Charlotte office and then went to work there full-time since the experience had been both beneficial and pleasant. He got a solid career foundation by polishing up his technical expertise, learning and practicing the value of networking and the importance of having a positive attitude for business success.

“I started out as an audit associate in the financial services audit practice,” he says. “At the time, Wachovia was still around so that was a massive client and that was a full 30 to 40 person team year round engagement.”

Senior Associate

He was promoted to Senior Associate after the standard two years and spent 18 months in

Joe Auer

Joe Auer

that position before he left. He’s been able to put together a few helpful tips for anyone looking to make the Big4 a career or stepping stone on the way to other endeavors. Not surprisingly, considering his background, he has a high regard for technical expertise.

“There’s a minimum level that you need to be above to advance,” he says. “The minimum level is fairly high but you need to remember there’s a big pool of people that are able to reach that.” He adds that level is different for each industry so the benchmark floats depending on your career choices.

He goes on to say there are other factors that will help to distinguish yourself as a prime candidate for promotion. Having a positive attitude that includes being willing to relocate and become a trainer are excellent traits to adopt.

People That Advance

“The people that advance are the people that are willing to move and do things like that,” Auer says. “The partners take big note of that.”

The track to partner has gotten longer over the years and Auer sees that as one reason why there are less people interested in climbing the Big4 ladder as the only aspect of their careers.

“The older partners made it in eight to ten years and now it takes twelve years. That definitely dissuades people from the partner track.”

We also talked about the importance of aligning yourself with the right senior members as some further insurance to career advancement.

“You need to have people vouching for you if you want to make partner,” he says. “For me, when I was an Associate and Senior Associate, I could tell the people that were going to advance had others one or two levels above them that were in their corner.”

Auer was ultimately lured away from the Big4 by an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to help a friend with an Internet startup.

“Then I applied to MBA programs to help cement my knowledge of strategic thought in business.”

He now is an entrepreneur in New York City and is the founder of the website Skill Voyage.

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