RINKER SCHOOL ALUMNUS CREDITS NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS
Matthew Lavari ’17 now works for one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious accounting firms. But you might say it all started at a Palm Beach Atlantic gathering he attended as a graduate student.
“PBA has an event called Meet the Firms,” Lavari said. “Various business and accounting firms come to meet with students of the business school. It’s a networking event where you can mix and mingle and build connections.”
That’s exactly what happened. Lavari met representatives from Crowe Horwath, the nation’s 9th-largest public firm, with offices around the world. After exchanging business cards, he followed up with a thank-you email and a resume. Within a few months he was interviewing for the job he now holds – a staffer in the company’s Audit Assurance Services department.
Lavari, a 29-year-old originally from Miami, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2016 (also from PBA) and finished his master’s degree this past December. Along the way, he held a series of jobs, building an impressive portfolio of work experience. He started out as a bookkeeper at an automotive repair shop and got some accounting experience at Robert Half Finance & Accounting. He worked as a junior accountant at a resort property and volunteered to prepare tax returns for low-income families.
Eventually, Lavari launched his own sole proprietorship that specialized in accounting services and bookkeeping for small- to mid-sized companies. “I garnered clients through word-of-mouth, and a couple of my PBA professors helped me out. It created a better work-life balance for school,” he said, “I wasn’t raking in money, but it kept my bills paid and allowed me to finish my graduate degree.”
This January, a mere two weeks after earning his MAcc, he walked into the job at Crowe Horwath. He works out of the Fort Lauderdale office, but spends a good bit of time traveling to clients. Since the beginning of the year he’s been to Chicago, Boston and Colorado, and a New York trip is in the planning stages. A great deal of his work involves auditing corporations’ financial statements to make sure there is no evidence of error, fraud or any other circumstances that could mislead potential investors or buyers.
Lavari has been both gratified and challenged in his time at Crowe Horwath, which was recently named one of Fortune magazine’s Top 100 Places to Work. “The learning curve is like a hockey stick. It shoots straight up. The expectation is that you’re going to spend your time trying to learn and grow. In the short couple of months I’ve been there, it’s already skyrocketed my knowledge in public accounting.”
The work is satisfying, but it isn’t easy. He’s clocked plenty of 70-hour weeks lately. “There’s a reason you’re getting paid well,” he laughed. “You’re expected to work to the bone. But it is very rewarding not only in terms of compensation, but also in terms of knowledge. Accountants are rightfully held to a high standard of knowledge in business, ethics, finances and – to an extent – law. It’s a very rewarding career if you are someone who enjoys constantly learning and venturing outside of your comfort zone.”
Lavari has special praise for the ways his PBA education reinforced his core values in Christ. “That’s especially important in a field susceptible to compromised ethics,” he said. “My time at PBA was absolutely incredible. Through the hard work and late nights, the stress and study sessions, I came out as the first person in my family to graduate college. Though I’m happy to be through, I do miss my PBA days. I’ll always be a Sailfish at heart.”