Todd, Accounting – I’ve always been a numbers guy. It takes a certain type of person to love accounting, but hey – I guess that’s me. I worked in public accounting for almost 10 years with one of the widely-known Big Four, before Walmart. It was quite the experience. Just imagine juggling about 50 plates in the air while hopping on one foot and you’ll get a feel for it. Oh, by the way, your hair is on fire, too. Honestly, I loved it and learned a lot, but I know it’s not the best fit for everybody. Walmart was a giant leap into the unknown for a Big Four guy like me, but I think it turned out to be a good one for a lot of reasons that make this a lot more than just a job. Now that I’m three years into my Walmart adventure, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Walmart and the Big Four are different…
- The hours are more predictable at Walmart. Any way you slice it, you’re going to work long hours sometimes. But at Walmart, it’s more steady and consistent. Days are more predictable, and I think I accomplish just as much now because I’m expected to not be here until 10 p.m.
- I’m able to really unplug now. The whole idea of work/life balance is pretty nonexistent in a lot of industries today, and the sheer volume of work makes burnout a real struggle. When I leave the office, I unplug. Vacation really is a vacation. And it’s a priority. A nice change of pace.
- My job has more variety at Walmart. I don’t spend every day balancing budgets and auditing. I spend time talking about big business decisions or problems and thinking how to help us work smarter, more efficiently and more responsibly. It’s a lot better than staring at spreadsheets all day – though I do love a good spreadsheet.
…but it’s not that different.
- Both offer massive support networks. In public accounting – and at Walmart – if you have a deep question, there are a lot of people to ask for advice. Pretty rare in private accounting.
- Both offer growth opportunities. Just like in the world of public accounting, the longer you’re here at Walmart, the more opportunities will come your way. It’s one of the few places that can match the growth opportunities for an accountant that the Big Four provide.
- Either way, you’ve got to be a great juggler. You have to keep a cool head with all those plates in the air. Public or private, you’ve got to be deliberate about managing your time by multi-tasking and still leave time to develop yourself as an accounting pro. The skills that help someone succeed in the Big Four are the same ones needed to succeed here.
Working in Big Four accounting and at Walmart both have strong selling points. But for me, the differences in work/life balance and opportunity to impact something really big make the Walmart adventure a lot more exciting.
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Todd has been with Walmart for three years, having made the leap from a Big Four accounting firm to the world’s largest retailer. Today, he’s working in Consolidation and External Finance Reporting.