Dr. Kevin Eller, assistant professor of accounting at Appalachian State University, brought four years of work experience in public accounting to his role as a faculty member in the Walker College of Business. Dr. Eller well understands the importance of connecting students to real-world situations and preparing them for a career in accounting.
“With widespread attention given to our graduates’ data analytics skills,” said Dr. Eller, “It is easy to forget that communication skills are still at or near the top of the list in terms of desired skills for new associates.” Dr. Eller said companies like Grant Thornton-organizations that realize the importance of softer skills like effective communication as well as functional business knowledge-can offer good advice to Appalachian students.
On August 30, 2018, three representatives from Grant Thornton, two of whom are Appalachian alumni, presented in an upper level accounting class on tax planning and research. John Ward, Chris Rhodes ’08, ’09 and Alex Cobb ’14, ’15, led the students in a discussion about effective participation in meetings and stressed the importance of learning how to facilitate.
Dr. Eller explained that while it may seem like a simple principle, skills such as knowing how to manage a group of people and efficiently using meeting time are pivotal for those beginning their career. He said that new associates in the public accounting field often participate in client meetings or team meetings within the first week on the job, just a few short weeks later, associates may find themselves leading meetings with more seasoned teammates.
“I am grateful to these Grant Thornton associates for helping our program identify and address this need,” added Dr. Eller. Thanks to a dedicated alumni network, students in the Walker College better develop leadership skills in the classroom-skills that will transfer to the workplace upon graduation.