“I don’t have the stories that Jeff has,” remarked EY partner and New England recruitment leader Jason Janoff ’93. “I may be fun to listen to, but Jason is more important to you,” countered Jason’s former classmate and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office, Jeff Sallet ’93. With the aplomb and timing of a seasoned Saturday Night Live comedy duo, the former Isenberg classmates made an uncontestable case for accounting as a professional destination. The venue was Cathy Lowry’s Introduction to Accounting class in April, and the students—more that 70 of them—couldn’t get enough of Sallet and Janoff’s positive message.
“As an FBI agent, I use my accounting skills to catch bad guys,” Jeff told the students. “From forensic accounting, I learned how to follow the money. You learn logical reasoning. You learn how to think.” In accounting organizations, he continued, you are empowered to learn and solve all sorts of problems early on. You progress, he said, “faster than your friends outside accounting.” “There are bookkeepers. That’s not what we do,” added Jason. “I’m constantly putting out fires. I solve problems and resolve issues, in collaboration with my teams. It keeps my day going so fast."
“Accounting is one of the last apprenticeship professions,” Jason continued. “Who likes to teach?” he asked the students. “You’re constantly teaching the staff, which provides the opportunity to advance and get promoted. It’s all about building skills. The risk of early promotion is mitigated because you work directly with senior associates and managers that provide oversight and who are responsible for your development.” Jeff Sallet’s organization is flatter yet. “In an office of 1,100, there are only two people between me and the agents doing the work,” he observed. “In the field, you learn to lead quickly."
“At EY, you have tons of different opportunities,” noted Jason, who listed services in assurance, like auditing and fraud investigations; in tax, like advisory and reporting; in transaction advice, like due diligence and deal structuring; and in business advisory, like risk and performance improvement. EY, he added, also offers opportunities across most industries and over 150 countries.
Tales from the Street
“Define a crisis for me,” Jeff challenged the students. The Isenberg graduate recalled running in the 2013 Boston Marathon when he heard the explosion. “I was in the race; my wife and daughters were at the finish line,” he recalled. “When you have the ability to control the clock, it’s not a crisis. I go with Jason’s model 98% of the time. For the other 2%, there has to be command and control.” That skill set, he said, includes making smart spur-of-the-moment decisions. Following the Boston Marathon tragedy, Jeff became agent-in-charge of its investigation.
In a second reminiscence, he recalled his bust of Bonanno crime family overlord Joseph Massino in 2003. It all began with forensic accounting, which revealed dirty transactions by underlings. Given the prospect of lengthy prison sentences, nine of them agreed to wear wires, which led to the Massino’s incrimination. “Getting them to flip helped reveal 30 cold-case homicides,” Jeff recalled. “In the mob, money goes up, not down.
“How many unemployed accountants do you know?” Jeff asked the students. “Accountants may not always be cool, but we all have jobs, which is cool.” “Most of our campus hires are accountants,” added Jason. “About forty seniors from this campus will join us next fall and thirty interns from UMass Amherst will work for EY this summer. If you like being challenged, you will not be disappointed by a career in accounting.”