The Accounting Alumni & Friends Recognition Banquet, sponsored in 2022 by Crowe, EY, Forvis, KPMG, and PwC, was created in 2016 as an opportunity to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of IU’s accounting alumni.
“We have so many successful accounting alums,” says Professor Joe Schroeder. “Each year we look forward to celebrating the many alumni who have had huge impacts in society and beyond.”
The Four Under Forty award recognizes younger Kelley accounting alumni who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in their early careers and have the potential to make a lasting impact in their professional endeavors. Winners included Ashley Christie (BS 2007, MBA 2008), Partner with Katz Sapper & Miller; Jack Kienzler (BS 2008, MBA 2009), Finance Leader at Cummins Filtration; Bill Knerr (BS 2003), Partner with EY; and Brittney Kocaj (BS 2007), Partner at Crowe.
Christie says that the coursework exposed her to technical tax concepts that shaped her career trajectory. “The field experience at Belgacom in Brussels was incredible and opened me up to other cultures and instilled my love of international travel,” she says.
Kienzler credits Kelley for teaching him the invaluable soft skills required to be successful in the real world. These include participating in cases, team projects, mock interviews, and networking opportunities in both undergraduate and graduate experiences. “Forcing students to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations is the best training one could receive in life,” says Kienzler. “These experiences shaped my career success.”
Other award winners felt the same.
“Part of what keeps me excited about my profession is showing up every day and solving problems,” says Knerr. “The coursework and professors at Kelley prepared me to excel at problem solving throughout my career.”
But it’s not all about the studies. Kocaj (BS 2007) remembers fondly the classmates and friends she made through the Kelley School of Business.
“I especially enjoyed the Women in Business (WIB) group, which provided networking and educational opportunities designed for women,” says Kocaj. “The friendships I made and the lessons I learned in WIB and at Kelley propelled me into a successful and fulfilling career in public accounting.”
The Community Service award recognizes accounting alumni of Kelley who are making a tremendous impact on the world and exhibit exemplary generosity through community service and/or philanthropy. Winners were David Feinberg (BS 1998), Director at Crowe LLP and Darrell Gilmore (BS 1984).
“What was so impactful about my education at IU and in the Kelley School were all of the experiences I had exposing me to various disciplines,” says Feinberg. “Accounting resonated with me and I felt would best provide me future opportunities. The foundation I received at IU opened the doors for everything that has followed and has allowed me to pay it forward to my community!”
Gilmore, retired from Cargill, has volunteered extensively with Habitat for Humanity. In 2017 alone, he helped build 60 homes, restored 36 homes, and logged 1,237 volunteer hours.
The Outstanding Friend of Kelley award recognizes an individual who has made a tremendous impact on both the Accounting Department and the Kelley School of Business. Nominees are not required to be Kelley alumni. Mark Sullivan, Managing Principal of the Grant Thornton (GT) Chicago office, received the award.
“My favorite memory of many years at IU, in addition to writing my last tuition check, was when the Deans of Kelley, Luddy and O’Neill, told me that GT IDEA (Institute for Data Exploration for risk Assessment and Management) had brought the three schools together to serve students and create opportunities for faculty to work together in a way that had not been done before,” says Sullivan.
The Lifetime Achievement award, which recognizes a Kelley accounting alumnus who has shown extraordinary leadership throughout his or her professional career and who has distinguished his or herself by achieving a consistently high level of excellence, went to Kathy Pawlus (BS 1982), retired partner with EY.
The Professional Excellence award recognizes those Kelley accounting alumni who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in their careers and are making lasting and ongoing impacts in their professional endeavors. Winners included Julie Adams (BS 1989), CEO of Oliver Winery; Brad Rachmiel (BS 1993), Managing Director at Protiviti; and Robert Tockman (BS 1984), Partner and Chief Accountant at KPMG.
Adams maintains that her accounting education at the Kelley School was instrumental in her career. “The integrative nature of the curriculum gave me a great deal of practice with how cross-functional teams drive value across a business, paired with a super strong technical accounting foundation,” says Adams. “In addition, I believe that the real reward in any career comes from helping teams do their best work, and Kelley set me up well for this.”
Rachmiel notes that during his career, he held jobs in auditing, finance, supply chain, and sales. “Having an accounting degree from Kelley gave me the tools to pivot from one discipline to another,” he says. “Accounting is truly the language of business, and there’s no better place to learn that language than right here in Bloomington!”
Tockman insists that the dedication of everyone involved in the accounting program and the quality of the program were the key to his successful career. “It’s about more than just the teaching of accounting,” says Tockman. “It’s about the breadth of the program, the focus on critical thinking and teamwork, and the commitment to excellence demonstrated by all involved. IU builds a foundation of success.”
Finally, each year the Accounting Department gives out an Academic Excellence award to recognize an alumnus of Kelley (Ph.D. program or other Kelley programs) that has made a tremendous impact on teaching, service and research in accounting. The department chose to bestow a posthumous award to Joe Kramer, Jr. (DBA, 1963), former professor and Associate Dean. Kramer was the ninth African-American person to earn a Ph.D. in accounting and one of the first black CPAs.
“Joe Kramer is a pioneer in that regard,” says Schroeder.
Kramer, a tenured full professor at Penn State and later Howard University, was a prolific researcher who was published in top journals such as The Accounting Review. Throughout his career, he worked with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the American Accounting Association, supporting initiatives to help underrepresented minorities become successful in the accounting profession. Kramer passed away in the 1980s.
“When you sit back and look at people who have had a profound effect on the academic profession, particularly for black accountants, you think of Joe Kramer and then realize he graduated from IU and had such a profound impact in his field!” says Schroeder. “We’re so proud that he’s a Kelley IU alum.”
If you would like to nominate an IU alum for an award for the 2023 Accounting Alumni & Friends Recognition Banquet, please send your nomination to Sonja Rego (email@example.com) or Joe Schroeder (firstname.lastname@example.org).