Suzanne Christensen attended the Women in Accounting Symposium

Paying it forward

Suzanne Christensen was honored to speak on a panel at the 12th annual Fisher School’s Women in Accounting Symposium. The panel was titled “Specializing – How to Find your Specialty and Be Good At It,” and she heard good things about the other women on the panel with her, but they weren’t going to meet until the symposium began.

That’s when she got a text from her sister-in-law, Wendi Christensen, with a picture of the event brochure showing they were on the same panel together. Wendi, a Deloitte tax partner and Fisher School grad (BS/MACC ’97), and Suzanne didn’t tell anyone until the panel started and eventually laughed about it from the stage.  

It’s one of the many memories Suzanne cherishes from the event, which provided an opportunity to share career advice with students.

“It was great to speak with students about navigating their careers,” Christensen said. “I strongly believe in paying it forward and helping the next generation succeed. My experiences at UF and the Fisher School continue to be fabulous. It’s such a great school, and I’m always in awe of the talent that graduates from there. I’ve always felt a connection and a desire to contribute.”

Today, Christensen is the Chief Risk Officer at Invesco and also serves as the chair of the company’s Global Women’s Network, which has chapters in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. She’s passionate about diversity and enjoys empowering women in their careers.

“These topics are near and dear to my heart,” Christensen said. “I challenged them to be advocates, to take on roles outside of their comfort for themselves and encouraged them with ways their voice can be heard in a crowded room.”

It took some time for Christensen to find her place in accounting. She initially enrolled at UF as a pre-medicine and pre-engineering major.

“It was lots of math and science, but I wasn’t passionate about it,” Christensen said. “I had a sorority sister whom I really admired and who was going to work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms post-graduation. She and my dad, who was a career banker and an economics major in college, convinced me to try an accounting course. My dad always told me he wished he had taken more accounting courses in college as he felt such knowledge was critical in a business role.”

It didn’t start off easy, but navigating the challenges presented in the major was rewarding. She passed her first four-credit accounting class with an A, which provided the confidence boost that she was equipped to handle the accounting major.

She accepted an auditing position with Ernst & Young in Ft. Lauderdale after graduation. Christensen got engaged after her first year with the company but had to leave the role because of a rule that employees couldn’t be engaged or married to a co-worker. Though the rule no longer exists today, she was forced to find another position and accepted a role in the accounting group at Franklin Templeton Investments. After a long tenure at Franklin Templeton, the CEO and CFO of Invesco offered Christensen a finance position in the Atlanta-based company in 2011. Today, Invesco is a $1.2 trillion asset manager and the sixth largest in the United States.

“I’ve loved the asset management business and held many positions over the years in all different areas, such as core finance, finance systems, shared services, financial planning & analysis, treasury, risk and even investor relations,” Christensen said. “I took the position of Chief Risk Officer last year and all of my experience to date has been relevant to my CRO role. I have been training my entire career for it.”