At BFBA, our tax and audit teams go beyond their everyday job roles to help develop one another and foster strong relationships, both internally and with the clients we serve. We know that in order to provide the best possible service to our clients, we need to attract the right people for the job and doing so requires creating a work environment that not only draws new talent, but nurtures it, too.
Many people have a preconceived notion of what working at a CPA firm is like, but at BFBA, we take pride in having a company culture that goes beyond the traditional view of accountants. Mentorship, fostering relationships and work-life balance are all pillars of a work culture that we believe is unlike any other in the accounting realm.
We sat down with three first-year members of our team—Chris Buzo, Gloria Lee and William Ho—to ask them about their experience at BFBA so far and get their take on what makes the company culture here so unique.
How would you describe the office culture at BFBA?
Chris: Unexpected. The culture they’ve created here is the complete opposite of what you’d typically think of when it comes to this industry.
Gloria: When I was still job hunting and I talked to other companies, they sounded very intimidating and really dry. But then the first person I met at BFBA was Jason Herrera and he was completely different from everyone else. So that’s really what attracted me to BFBA. It’s more welcoming than other companies.
In addition to that, teamwork is a big part of auditing and everyone’s always willing to help you. They’re always willing to answer your questions, even if they’re in the middle of something, they’ll just set it aside and take time to train you and I think that’s really important.
Chris: What’s also great about BFBA is that even though there are two departments, they really do work together as one. I know at other places that’s not always the case—tax is over here and audit is over there and they may not even talk to the other.
William: We’re all a team here. Even as a first-year, you’re working alongside senior managers and partners, so you really feel like you’re part of the team.
How have you experienced mentorship in the firm? Have you had any positive interactions with the partners?
Chris: I think the mentorship is really good here. It’s pretty easy talking to partners because they’re pretty vested in and interested in your development, so they’re going to tell you things and give you the responses that you need, but they’ll also walk you through it, too. They’re just normal people.
Gloria: Yeah, like Chris said, they’re really great at mentoring you. They’re really investing in you. I’ve had really positive experiences and I think a particular experience was with Noli [Snobar] and he just takes time to sit you down and talk you through whatever questions you have and then he goes beyond that and he just starts diving into topics that he wants to mentor you in. I remember when Will and I started, he asked us to come into his office—something else that he does—and he gave us a lesson on construction audits, which was cool because you can see that they really value the staff and they’re really investing in the future.
William: I just finished my first year and looking back, I can see how mentorship is a big part of the firm since day one. The mentor that I have, Jason Herrera, I sit right next to him and I just thought that was randomly assigned seating at first, but looking back, this was a plan. The partners and managers have a plan for new staff to develop them, to help them out and put them in the best position to grow within the firm.
What are some things around the office that help break up the day-to-day grind of work?
Chris: Every now and then we have the occasional Nerf gun war.
Gloria: We play golf in the office. We’re working getting a dunk contest going.
Chris: I like Martin [Grove’s] little jokes that he has over certain days. One of the lunches will be like Hot Dog Day or National Nacho Day and they’ll get the entire firm to have lunch together.
William: There’s a really good lunch culture here.
What is your favorite experience with the BFBA team? Either in the office or out.
Chris: Mine was the white water rafting trip. It was cool to see people in their natural elements, not at work or having something work-related on their minds. Plus, I got to sit with people on the boat who I don’t normally get to interact with on a daily basis. I was on the boat with Ben [Brown] and he’s a funny guy. I hadn’t talked to him that much, but he’s funny. I think that was fun and everyone interacting when we had the lunch. It was just a really good time.
Gloria: For me it’s the relationships you make at work. One particular example was when Shazleen and I went to the Eric Church concert. For the whole year, I thought I was never going to find someone to go to the concert with, so I didn’t even get tickets for it. Then the day of the concert, I was talking to Jason Volpe and he said he was going and had two extra tickets, so I’m scrambling to find someone to go with, and spontaneously, Shazleen and I just planned it that same day. We literally went to the concert in our work clothes, no plaid or boots. We noticed because we were the only ones in the building not wearing them. It was a good time.
William: The white water rafting trip for me as well. Our boat was awesome—Chris, Kelly, Ben, Kerry—we just had a bunch of fun.
Gloria: We still tell stories about it.
What tips would you give a new college grad when they’re considering different firms?
Chris: I’d probably tell them to go with their first instincts with the people that they meet. Really pay attention to the people that you talk to and the feeling that you get from them. If it’s a good, welcoming or inviting feeling, then you should roll with it. If you get something that kind of seems like a red flag or if you hear something, you might want to take that into consideration because I don’t think people in this profession would lie to people to get them hired. They pretty much tell it how it is.
William: I would tell a college grad to really listen to what BFBA or other firms are saying about their culture. I remember when I was interviewing with BFBA, I was picturing myself already working with these people. In a career, you’re going to work with a lot of people within the firm and you’re probably going to work with them for a while, so my advice is to ask yourself if you can see yourself working with that person or the team for years to come because business is business, but business is made up of people and we’re in the service industry. We’re dealing with a ton of people and I think it’s important you know what people are at that firm and what people they’re servicing.