New Jersey Society of CPAs
In college, Ralph Thomas felt like a fish out of water. “I came from Washington DC to Lehigh, an elite private college in Pennsylvania,” he explains. “I was one of fewer than forty students of color on campus. Talk about a culture shock!” But family, college staff and professors encouraged him to stay. He switched his major from engineering to accounting, graduated in three-and-a-half years, and went on to complete his MBA in a year.
Talk about a good move. Ralph went to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers (then Price Waterhouse), one of the most well-regarded international accounting firms. From there, he went on to work for a former client, then a handful of AT&T companies, and then to Citibank in New York, where he worked in the high-flying world of corporate finance.
After 13 years at Citibank, he took on the job of Executive Director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, where he’s been for the past ten years. He’s also an active member of several groups, including Lehigh’s College of Business Advisory Board and the National Association of Black Accountants. “Each and every day is exciting as you encounter many different and interesting issues that have the potential to impact the profession, a business or someone’s life.”
Ralph adds, “If you're looking for an opportunity to make difference, be well respected, feel a sense of satisfaction and earn a good living, then consider becoming a CPA. It's a career that has endless opportunities if you're dedicated, determined and willing to work hard.”
Ralph’s done just that, and his accomplishments prove it. Through it all, Ralph has stuck to a simple rule. “I just try to be me. I’m an outgoing person who likes to have a good time,” he says. “And I care about people. I try to keep these characteristics front and center in whatever I do,” he says. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best ones.
“Each and every day is exciting as you encounter many different and interesting issues.”
Years as a CPA: 31
Best job: My current position as Executive Director of the NJSCPA
Worst job: Working for AT&T post diversture of the Bell operating companies
Hobbies outside of work: Golf, traveling
Words to live by: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."