Los Angeles – (May 15, 2015) –
Platinum Equity CFO and CCO Mary Ann Sigler today delivered the commencement
address at the University of Southern California’s Leventhal School of
Accounting graduation ceremony.
Ms. Sigler, who earned a
Master’s degree in Business Taxation from USC in 1980, talked about what she
has learned over her 35-year career in public accounting and private equity and
offered some advice to the 2015 graduating class. She implored the approximately
400 students to be creative, be relevant, and above all else, be ethical.
Excerpts from Ms. Sigler’s
On being creative:
There is a stereotype of accountants as
mild-mannered numbers crunchers…We have a reputation for being practical but
not creative…In the background rather than the forefront …I am here to tell
you, those images are just not accurate.
Sometimes the CFO is not the most popular
person in the room – many times we are the one with our feet on the brakes…The
secret is to [do so in a way] that does not stifle creativity, but rather
channels it…to help find solutions that work within the confines of the right
way to do things.
On being relevant:
Learn to discern what is
relevant, what is important to your clients, your firm, and your career. In the long run it is not a
race to see how much money you can make how quickly, but rather a quest to see
how much you can learn and give back. Focus on the experiences as
a measure of success.
Find your passion and follow
your dreams – do what you are excited about, and the monetary side will then
fall into place.
But always be relevant. Do
not be the first person out the door at the end of the day. Instead, be
the first person to raise your hand when a project needs to be done. Put in the
time, even if it does not sound like the most exciting project. Make yourself relevant.
On being ethical:
Be Ethical. It is the most
important rule of all. I cannot emphasize enough
today the importance of high integrity in this profession.
There is nothing more
important, both personally and professionally, than being able to lay your head
on your pillow at night and know that you have done the right thing. And
there is no softer pillow than a clear conscience.
Ethical behavior is rooted
in fact. It is not based on opinion or judgment. And it is
binary. You are either ethical or you are not. There is no
gradation and no flexibility.
Doing the right thing is not
always the popular thing. The appeal of easy answers is alluring, and
most often there are no easy answers.
The “right” answer may not
always be what everyone wants to hear, but in the long run, it is what they
need to hear and you will serve yourself, your family, your profession, and
your employer well if you always remember that being unpopular about the right
decision is better than being popular with the wrong decision.
The moral and ethical makeup
of an accountant is the fabric of the profession. No other profession is
more focused on these values and standards.
So I implore each of you:
Make good decisions.
Be creative, yes…
Be relevant, for sure…
But always, always be