Why I Love Working for AT&T

This week reminded why I love working for AT&T.  I had the opportunity to be involved in four critical business issues, a half a dozen smaller issues and more minor ones than I can count.  One of the questions I get asked by my colleagues in public accounting is “don’t you get bored doing the same thing for the same company month after month?  I wish!

This week alone I had the opportunity to work on a benefits project, an M&A project, a major IT implementation and a critical response to the PCAOB on their concept release on mandatory auditor rotation.  Benefit and pension work is something new to me that I just took on this year.  Working with the Benefits organization at AT&T you quickly realize it’s a lot more than dollars and cents.  Possible changes in benefits not only impact the company’s bottom line, they also impact people.  As a result we are always working to get the best benefit answer for the most employees and retirees possible while at the same time making the cost affordable to the company.  When you have over 1 million people depending on the company for medical insurance even small changes can have a big impact. 

I can’t really talk about the M&A work, but it can be some of the most interesting work to be involved in.  Determining fair values of assets, working through stock based compensation impacts and dealing with goodwill accounting provide insights to a business many people never get a chance to see in their lifetime. 

In a company the size of AT&T, there is always a system project going on.  Taking advantage of system changes to institute better, preventative controls provides a real level of satisfaction to the Management Accountant in me.  Explaining how to make the system comply with accounting standards and policy choices can be frustrating at times, but it also reminds you how important your knowledge is to the company.

Finally, while we write several letters a year from AT&T management to standard setters and regulators, rarely does a committee of our Board of Directors write a letter.  Getting to think as a Director and Audit committee member was a great opportunity.  Thinking about their responsibilities, how they fulfill them and how they depend on Management, Internal Auditors and External Auditors to make sure they are fulfilling their fiduciary duties is scary and inspiring at the same time.  It makes you realize how critical delegation and trust is to being successful in business.

And that’s just one week.  In public accounting you may get to see lots of companies, but working in business and industry you get to see lots of issues covering a wide variety of topics.  In twenty years working for AT&T I’ve used just about every adjective in the dictionary to describe my work, but boring has never been one of them.

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