The Segal Accounting Distinguished Speaker Series returned on Sept. 23 and featured Jeff Goldberg, ‘92, associate chief counsel at Amazon.
The Distinguished Speaker Series is part of an accounting course in which students are educated about issues pertaining to the accounting profession from successful alumni.
The course is offered through Zoom this semester due to COVID-19 in the form of webinars and Q&A sessions with the featured speakers.
Goldberg, a former Lehigh accounting major, faced tremendous challenges along the way to his current position, which he hoped to relay to Lehigh students.
Goldberg almost failed out of Lehigh because of his low GPA, which would later discourage him to apply to law school directly from Lehigh. He was facing financial difficulties, and since his Lehigh GPA wasn’t strong enough to earn him substantial law school scholarship funds, he worked hard and saved money for law school after college. He also had to cope with the passing of his mother.
Bryan Cloyd, chair of the accounting department, said he curated the speaker series program to have a broad cross section of individuals that show the range of careers open to accounting students.
All of the guest speakers that are typically involved were accounting undergraduates that are either now certified public accountants or ended up as CEOs or CFOs of companies.
“In Jeff’s case, as a person who worked with the Department of Justice after getting a law degree, he is now involved in the internal legal operations of Amazon,” Cloyd said.
Cloyd said the mission of the speaker series is to inspire accounting students to explore atypical careers post-graduation.
“That’s what we try to portray to the students,” he said. “They can really understand that you don’t get that out of the intro to accounting textbook.”
Although COVID-19 has posed inconveniences, the pandemic is not stopping Lehigh students from gaining valuable insight from prominent professionals in their field of interest.
Accounting majors Maxine Manville, ‘21, and Mikayla Zion, ‘21, are both enrolled in the course and participated in this past speaker series with Goldberg.
Manville said she was especially excited about this event because Goldberg is a Lehigh graduate, and she hopes to learn more about applying a Lehigh accounting degree in separate areas.
Fascinated by Goldberg’s personal track, Manville highlighted how he went to law school after working at Arthur Andersen for three years.
“With an accounting degree, you don’t necessarily have to go into public accounting,” Manville said. “Rather, you can use the degree to leverage your way into other areas that you are more interested in and into a career that is fulfilling.”
Zion, who is taking the course for a second time, said she appreciated hearing the unorthodox route that Goldberg took to get to his position.
She also said listening to the series’ different speakers showed her just how many things one can achieve with an accounting degree outside of the typical audit, tax or consulting work, for example.
Zion said her biggest takeaway from Goldberg was the ups and downs that he continuously alluded to.
“He never let the obstacles interfere with pursuing what he wanted, which is a great lesson for not only accounting majors but also every college student,” Zion said.