Path to Director: 8 Questions with Jillian Bergman

jillianJillian Bergman, a leader on Holtzman’s Audit and Advisory team for the past 12 years, was promoted to Director this January. She will lead our firm’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) Transaction Advisory practice and continue to serve as a multi-tool leader handling SOX and audit engagements that have a technology focus. We recently caught up with Jillian, to learn more about her career journey and how she got on the path to Director here at Holtzman Partners. Here is what she had to say.

What qualities do you feel make you a successful accountant?

I am organized, detail-oriented, adaptable, and manage my time well. As I’ve grown professionally, learning to better collaborate with others, delegate, and think critically has helped me manage projects and people more effectively. I thrive on building relationships, which is imperative as a leader working in client service.

What are you most eager to tackle in your new leadership role?

I really look forward to creating, improving, and standardizing our M&A tools and practices so that our team can grow, serve more clients, and continue to provide high-quality work.

How has being a part of Holtzman shaped you into the leader you are today?

I have seen Holtzman’s core values exhibited consistently by our partner group throughout my tenure. They truly lead by example. Each of them brings a unique skill set to the table. I try to absorb as much as possible when I work with them, so I can imitate their successes and learn from their failures.

What have been your favorite project/client engagements at Holtzman so far?

My very first client at Holtzman continues to be one of my favorites – we perform the audit for a well-known charitable, non-profit private foundation that provides grants to create opportunities in education, health, and family economic stability for children and families living in urban poverty both domestically and globally. Not only can I get behind the mission, but the people at the foundation are fantastic to work with! They are well educated, responsive, family-oriented, and exhibit character that aligns with Holtzman’s core values.

For another favorite client, an enterprise SaaS company, I’ve had the opportunity to work with them through every stage of their growth. It has been fun to stand alongside this company as it grew from a tech startup to a global powerhouse. We assisted with their first audit the year of inception, then guided them through acquisition and preparation for IPO. We have built a long-term relationship and continue to help the organization with M&A financial due diligence on each of their acquisitions (30+ and counting) and other assorted reporting and compliance readiness projects. We stood alongside this company as it grew from a tech startup to a global powerhouse with a valuation of over $1B.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?

Making the decision to leave Deloitte in 2008 to join a small, unknown (to me) public accounting firm that had been around only four years was difficult. Ultimately, it was the best choice for my career and my personal life. Since then, the decision to stay in public accounting has not always been easy, but it has been worth it.

Amid these challenges, what has been your biggest motivator?

The collaborative approach we take both internally and with clients is highly motivating. I am never working in a silo. Instead, I help lead teams to successfully meet deadlines and we can collectively feel a sense of accomplishment when we’ve produced great work and retained happy clients.

Additionally, we are constantly looking for ways to improve, learn something new, become more efficient, or become better communicators. I am motivated by the results of learning from mistakes and making incremental improvements during this process.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

Republic by Plato. I was a rare business major in an exclusive liberal arts interdisciplinary program at Baylor. I realized how much I would rather work on my accounting homework than finish the Republic, a 700-page Socratic dialog about the meaning of justice that segues to a utopian society ruled by a philosopher-king. I liked the logic and concrete nature of accounting and had difficulty following the mystic and abstract musings of Plato. Following Plato, we read Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics, which I devoured – it made so much more sense to me. Aristotle is known for being logical, empirical, and practical. After considering the differences between these Athenian philosophers and how I gravitated to the philosophy of common sense, I chose the business major that best allowed me to flex that part of myself – accounting.

What is your best advice for young accountants today?

Ask questions – in fact, keep a running list as you are working on a new task. The quicker you ask and learn, the faster you will grow and gain confidence in your role. Nobody expects you to have all the answers. Have a great attitude – it goes a long way.

 

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