Two women present in a classroom

What I learned at the Women in Accounting Symposium

By Quinn Fisher Simpson

When I was invited to attend the Women in Accounting Symposium through the Fisher School of Accounting, I was not sure what to expect. I was an underclassman going to an upperclassmen event, listening to many successful women help me build my future. I have several successful women in my life who have always encouraged me, so I was having trouble seeing how this could be any different. To my surprise, this would prove to be an energizing experience that would change the way I thought about what it was to be a successful female accountant! 

My day began with Stephanie Gardner, a tax senior manager at RSM Orlando, speaking on “How to build a successful mentor relationship.” My initial thought was, “Why do so many successful businesswomen still feel it is essential to have a mentor? Why would you need advice if you’re already at the top of your profession?” As Stephanie spoke, I realized that a mentor/mentee relationship is more than just giving advice; it is about pushing each other to reach goals you thought were previously unreachable. If you’re given a project above your level, take it. It may seem overwhelming and stressful, but your mentor isn’t going to let you fail. They are there to help you thrive in those situations and show you that you can do more than you think.

Next was a panel of three women, working for Deloitte, Invesco and PwC. We were encouraged to ask questions about their journey to their current success and about any advice they could give us in navigating our own career, getting involved and finding our niche. It was very encouraging to hear that they are still figuring out their own destinations. It’s a matter of being deliberate and staying open to more opportunities even if it means letting go of a good one because that is how you build your experience and find new passions. Along with this, as a woman in business, you have something else to bring to the table that people need. 

Lastly, there was a POWER presentation and a speech on the “language of success.” I learned that to be successful and make it to the top, there are a few things I need to do: I need to believe in my abilities, take control of my career, widen my network, speak with clarity and self-assurance, and know who I am and what I believe. I also became very conscious of how many times I say “sorry” or “this may be a dumb question” and that I use multiple exclamation points in emails (which I should tone down a bit for business-related emails).

I left the Women in Accounting Symposium exhilarated from engaging with so many thoughtful, intelligent and determined women. I am eager to use what I learned throughout the Symposium in both my day-to-day life and my future career. The Symposium was a real eye opener! When I walked in, I was both nervous and unsure how to act. As a second-year student, I haven’t had as much experience as my upperclassmen peers, so when I heard that I had to “network,” I wasn’t sure if I could confidently do so. Once I started to meet women working for the Big Four and talking to them, I realized that networking was basically socializing. It is a way to connect with others and share experiences. When you’re amongst great women who support each other, it’s easy. There are wonderful people in the working world who want you to be the best version of yourself.

I know all new experiences are going to be unfamiliar and can be intimidating, but I learned that each experience builds our “bank” of experiences until we begin to look forward to them. I am so fortunate to be a part of the Fisher School of Accounting that offers so many opportunities to prepare us for life during and after college.