Mitch Franklin works with Project Advance instructors, students

Mitch Franklin, assistant professor of accounting practice in the Whitman School of Management, likes to make connections and show people where numbers can lead them.

Franklin, accounting faculty liaison for Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA), recently took SUPA instructors on a field trip to New York City to meet with hiring managers and SU alumni at KPMG, one of the country’s “Big Four” accounting firms. He’s trying to forge connections between top accounting firms such as KPMG and SUPA’s high school classes similar to those between the firms and SU’s on-campus accounting program.

“We’re trying to let the teachers know about the opportunities out there, and get the kids introduced to the pipeline early on,” Franklin says. He wants teachers and students to be excited about where accounting can take them.

“I know, the accounting textbook, not so exciting,” Franklin says. “But once you get through this freshman material, once you’ve got a good foundation, accountants really do interesting things – things like merger and acquisition work, financial planning, forensic accounting. Students don’t see that, and a lot of high school teachers might not have the exposure to deliver that information.”

Hence a field trip to KPMG, an example of the professional development SUPA offers its high school instructors. It sounds like the message is getting through.

“I was so pumped up and excited after I left KPMG. I wish I was 20 years younger, because I really wanted to work at that place,” said Katie Petrie, an 18-year veteran business teacher who is in her first year teaching SU accounting (ACC 151) at Clinton High School. “I came back and told (my students) that it’s a very exciting place to work.” The kids ate it up, and spent hours investigating KPMG online.

Anthony Parenti, who worked as an accountant at a “small potatoes” accounting firm before going into teaching, said his impressions of KPMG – professionalism, prestige, global reach, accounts measured in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars – let him give his students at Middletown High School a glimpse of “what they’re shooting for if they shoot for the top.” 

“I thought the trip was a huge success,” says Franklin. “The teachers were interacting with recruiting managers and SU grads now working for KPMG – including former lacrosse superstar Mike Leveille – and walked away saying they really learned something, and with things they could bring back to their students.”

By Jim Reilly