Emma Grossman C’11 is the Assistant Controller at Cydcor, an outsource marketing and sales leader that assists companies in converting leads, attracting and retaining customers in Los Angeles. Emma began her career in public accounting working for two top-10 national CPA firms in both audit and taxation, McGladrey and CBIZ MHM. She went on to hold several positions of increasing responsibility in accounting and finance over the last 8 years from entry-level financial analyst to now directly reporting to the Chief Financial Officer. She received her Master of Accounting, from the USC Leventhal School of Accounting, and her Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies from Drew University with honors. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
THE VALUE OF DREW
Emma was born and raised in Southern California and was recruited to play varsity basketball at Drew. When she came out for a visit, she fell in love with the beautiful campus and the many opportunities Drew offered. She took one course in Economics, with the whole Guns and Butter Equation, and it clicked. I found something I aligned with in school, before that she was uncertain. She started in Economics but she became a Business Studies major when Drew added that as a major. She said, “The business courses I took were super attractive for me to learn what I wanted to do next in Business. I ended up doing the Semester on Wall Street, Corporate Finance and Accounting which ultimately was the path I went down. The exposure was invaluable.” After the Semester on Wall Street she thought she might want to be an Equities Trader, but when the Recession hit in 2008 and the banks started collapsing, she decided to choose accounting as a safer option.At the time, there were a lot of people dealing with job loss or stressful situations because of the mortgage meltdown.
She was part of the DREW ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS SOCIETY (DEBS) and Emma said, “DEBS was an interesting first step in understanding how connections were so important. My parents always said network, network, network, make sure you don’t forget people, and never burn a bridge. Economics Prof. Marc Tomljanovich could call someone on a Saturday and a student would have a job interview on a Tuesday. He could impact people’s lives. It was a good experience to recognize how important networking is to get a job.” She said that all the Economics and Business professors were excellent, but she said, Prof. Marc Tomljanovich and Jennifer Olmsted were very supportive mentors.
Emma did a few internships. Her first, between her freshman and sophomore year, was with a Los Angeles CPA firm, Clumeck Stern, found through a family friend. In this internship she assisted where needed. Between sophomore and junior year, her second internship was with Hartford on the property and casualty side learning how to do business underwriting. She felt she was hired at Hartford because she was a unique candidate because she came from a small liberal arts college like Drew. The third year she went back to Clumeck Stern because she really enjoyed it and developed a strong mentorship out of that internship. She became a CPA because of that mentorship.
Emma played on the Varsity BASKETBALL team at Drew and it was a great experience for her. She said, “Being a student and a college athlete is difficult but it really built the foundation of my adult life. The structure, determination, and discipline that it takes to be the best at something taught me a lot about business. The intensity in college is greater than high school. In college you wake up at 5 a.m. and run in the gym with your teammates. It’s a humbling experience to play competitive sports in college because you’re not the best, you’re not going to be the best. There is always someone better than you, so you figure out how to work really hard just to compete. I love seeing people on a team working together because in your adult life you’re constantly working with other people to get things done.”
Her favorite memories of Drew involve spending time with friends who became family because she was so far from home. Emma said, “I feel a lot of the success I’ve had is because of Drew. I was not very academic in high school but when I got to Drew people actually thought I was smart and this built my confidence in reading and writing, curiosity and being able to problem solve. Drew taught me how to educate myself and learn. I would not have had those opportunities without the experiences at Drew.”
What inspired you to go for your Master’s in Accounting at University of Southern California?
I looked at the path to become a CPA in the state of California and I needed 150 credit hours. I was short about a year of school work. It put me right down the path to be a CPA. I didn’t think I’d get in because at that time they were the # 1 graduate school for accounting, but I did okay during the in-person interview. It was a very challenging program, especially coming from a small liberal arts college.
Can you talk a little bit about what you do as Assistant Controller at Cydcor?
I’m responsible for the accounting and financial reporting. I report directly to the Chief Financial Officer and I ensure that the financial statements are accurate each month and my team is responsible for all the general ledger transaction details which makes up the financial statements.
What do you think is the key to your success in the field of accounting?
I think being personable. A lot of accountants are very black and white and as you climb the ranks and you become a controller and more of a director and interfacing with executives, bankers, and lenders, you have to take off your accounting hat and put on a business hat. I can get into the technical aspects with people but I can also back out of them.
What advice would you give a student who is interested in a career in accounting?
I would look into trying to get an internship with one of the larger firms and take as many accounting courses as possible. Most people start with financial and managerial. This fall Drew will be rolling out an accounting major. Even if you don’t have an accounting major, you still have a shot at landing an internship at a smaller firm.
If you could attempt any other career other than your own, what would it be?
Real estate renovation. I always had a thing for real estate. There is design and artistry to it.
If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?
I like to play guitar and I am an avid snowboarder. I enjoy the 5 hour drive up to Mammoth Lakes/Mountain.