Accounting alums dash stereotypes at Penn State Abington forum

The panelists laughed, joked and were clearly passionate about their profession. They stressed the importance of interpersonal skills, entrepreneurship and versatility. But the words debit and credit were never uttered, so it may be surprising that the dynamic career they were championing was accounting.

The six alums gathered last week for the first Penn State Abington Accounting Forum, offering advice to students on topics ranging from interview and job search tactics to the satisfaction of helping businesses prosper.

Moderator Robert A. Lear, the retired CEO of an insurance company, enthusiastically outlined the options accounting offers.

“You can be anything you want with an accounting background: consultant, auditor, chief financial officer, chief executive officer,” he said. “It is an exciting lifetime learning experience.”

Lear is chair of the Penn State Abington Accounting Committee, which organized the forum. Fellow panelists Robert Quigley and Russell Gordon are members of the group along with alum Glen Newman. Their goal is to support and promote the accounting option and identify mentors and internships for students.

Abington graduate Angelisa Cataldo, of the class of 2011, offered detailed suggestions to prepare for the Certified Public Accountant exam, which she took for the first time last week. She also encouraged the students gathered in Lubert Commons to enrich their resumes in less traditional ways.

“Do something beyond the curriculum,” she said, describing her honors thesis on the public relations strategies of firms involved in the Enron accounting scandal. She also participated in the Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities (ACURA) with the project “The Student Dilemma: Working College Students and Their Use of Time.”

Quigley, who transformed insurance industry expertise into his own consulting firm, applauded the students for choosing Penn State Abington. “The class sizes and atmosphere made coming to Abington one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said.

Nelson Wax, a counselor in the Career Development Center at Abington, encouraged the audience to take advantage of the services they offer.

“We tailor our training to each person’s needs,” he said, referring to mock interviews, resume critiques and job search strategies. The Career Development Center at Abington presented the forum in conjunction with the Accounting Committee.

Panel members also discussed the benefits of working in a variety of firms and industries including family businesses, public accounting firms of all sizes and private industry. Michael A. Coakley and Joseph A. Altomare joined Lear, Quigley, Russell and Cataldo on the panel.

Coakley had one special request of the audience: “Please help shake the stereotypes of accountants. We don’t all use pocket protectors!”

For more information on the accounting option at Abington, go to

To learn more about the Career Development Center, go to