Destination: Hilton Worldwide, Internal Audit Dept.

with Chris Ekimoff, Investigations & Forensics Manager

Hear about Chris's 'Career Spent Following the Money' and his journey from the classroom to
fraud fighting.

The trip's agenda includes:

  • Chris's accounting life
  • What is forensic accounting?
  • Stories from the front lines
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Where he's been and where he's going

Q & A with Chris Ekimoff

There's never enough time, is there? Our field trippers had some excellent questions for Chris. And here, Chris takes the time to answer those that we didn't get to tackle live.

Did you always want to be an accountant?
I didn't always want to be an accountant, but I knew I wanted to be in business. Originally my middle school teachers told me I should be a lawyer because I argued so much with my classmates. I realized during high school that accounting was something that I was passionate about and that provided a wealth of career opportunities, so I would be able to be flexible as time went on.

How many hours do you typically work each week?My work week averages around 45 hours per week. I spend a good amount of time networking, writing articles, giving interviews, and working with volunteer organizations that overlaps with that time as well.

Have you considered a degree in law to combine with your Accounting background?
As I talked about during the presentation, the combination of the two practices can lead to exciting career opportunities.

How long did it take you to study for the CPA exam?
It took me 13 full months to pass the exam. I am not ashamed to say I failed two parts (and even failed one of those parts twice!), so don't feel bad if your score isn't up to snuff on the first try. It's about how much time you can dedicate to learning & understanding the material.

Where did you get your training?
I rely on training provided by industry associations, like the AICPA, ACFE, and Hilton's internal learning resources to stay up to date on developments in accounting and industry.

What advice would you offer to today's high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in accounting in the near future?
I would tell any high school student today that apart from learning accounting, the most important thing to understand is computers. I do 100% of my work on a computer. The more I learn about programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the more efficient and successful I've become. Also, take a typing class! Being able to type accurately and quickly has really helped me in my day to day job.

Do you have any accounting tips / tricks to remember different accounting concepts?
When all else fails, draw T-accounts. No matter how complex a transaction or idea, break it down to basics and identify the double-entry amounts for each development. It'll help you understand what each situation is really getting at.

Should you look for a specific degree in forensic accounting if that is your a minor in criminal justice just as good?
I would encourage you to take any path you think will fulfill your interest. If you plan on working in tandem with law enforcement, a background in criminal justice can only help. However, if you are looking forward to being a corporate controller, it may not apply as directly as you would hope. I am not familiar with the focused forensic accounting degrees out there now, but would think if it aligns with where you want to work, go for it!

Do you have any advice for someone starting out in your field?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. A lot of questions. Be annoying to your superiors and your colleagues. Never assume you know what someone asked of you, Always always always ask. People might act annoyed when they are busy, but in the end, you'll have a better understanding of what you need to do and how you can help out!