Public Accounting for Sports Clients. A great way to learn the ins and outs of the sports world is to work for a public accounting firm, such as one of the Big 4, who has clients in the sports industry. Clients could be anyone from a pro football team to a soccer stadium to an apparel company. You’d have the chance to work with the client’s finance team and learn their operations inside-out—valuable experience that can launch your career. In fact, many people get the chance to work directly for one of their clients later on.
Accountant for a Team or Sports Company. Every sports team and sports-related company has a finance department of its own, requiring accountants, analysts, controllers and directors. Working for a sports team, you could have a number of responsibilities like figuring out how to pay for that expensive free agent, projecting monthly budgets or controlling the payroll. Working for a high-profile sports organization is hard work but comes with perks you might expect, like free seats at games and the chance to meet your sports heroes.
The competition for jobs with professional sports organizations is fierce: there are only so many jobs with a limited number of teams. Don’t forget about the hundreds of other sports-related companies out there when you start to look for a job. You can find a similar variety of work at a sports broadcasting company like ESPN, a manufacturer like K2 Ski or an apparel company like Nike.
CPAs in all businesses—especially sports—recommend taking an internship in or after college (even if it’s unpaid) to get your foot in the door. Aside from doing well in your accounting courses, passing the CPA exam and getting your license, be willing to take on unglamorous tasks to prove you’re serious about getting hired full-time.
For Dr. John Karaffa, rubbing elbows with famous people is just part of his job description. As President of ProSport CPA, he helps professional athletes with their tax, accounting and financial education needs.
He’s got the perfect background for it, too. “I played basketball at Butler University,” he remembers. “Then I ventured overseas to play professional basketball in Germany.” After that, John walked off the court and into the international tax department at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Nine years later, his title was VP of Sports & Entertainment, and today he’s the President of ProSport CPA ("The Tax Pro for the Pros").
Does he miss his playing days? If so, you’d never notice. “I love seeing people make better financial decisions as a result of my help,” he says. What’s more, he gets to hang out in an office covered in sports memorabilia, usually with ESPN or the NFL network playing on his flat screen. John adds that “I can say, with a straight face, that watching sports is part of doing my ‘homework!’”
And his past experiences just make him better at what he does now. “I spend a lot of time prospecting professional athletes,” he says. “Keeping up with my current players and how they're doing.” He also networks with financial advisors about how he can help them with their athlete clients.
He only has one minor regret: “I never realized how much fun being a CPA could really be. Had I known, I’d have hit the books a little harder, and started sooner on becoming a sports accountant.”
So, you tell us. Pro athletes, game tickets, tv-watching-as-homework. Sounds like a pretty good gig, huh?
“I love seeing people make better financial decisions as a result of my help.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 20
BEST JOB: Overseas Professional Basketball Player
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Travel, sports
WORDS TO LIVE BY: I love the quote I once heard, "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity."
Jenneen Kaufman is a key player on the Tennessee Titans football team, but her position is a little out of the ordinary. Instead of spending her Sundays on the line of scrimmage, she keeps the Tennessee Titans’ financials in line.
As Vice President/CFO of the Titans she gets to evaluate franchise costs and contracts, calculate signing bonuses, make sure the players and coaches get paid and, oh yeah, enjoy the games from a luxury suite.
She has always had a love for sports, but she never intended to make it a career path. With her outgoing personality, a knack for networking and a bit of chance, Jenneen ended up in the right place at the right time.
While playing softball with a former colleague, Jenneen mentioned that her employer was consolidating offices—which meant she’d have to leave the state where she grew up as well as her family and friends. A couple days later, the colleague called her with news that the Houston Oilers were moving to Tennessee, and would be hiring a new controller. The rest is history. Jenneen got the job and has worked for the team ever since.
One of Jenneen’s favorite parts of being the CFO for the team is that she is involved with every facet of the organization. “When you are dealing with the money of any organization, you really have to know all the ins and outs,” she says. “I really like that, because I know what every department in this organization does.”
Despite being one of the few women in a league played, managed and owned mainly by men, Jenneen says it’s been a confidence boost to have them call with questions. “I just feel like one of the guys,” she says. Plus, “the sports market is certainly changing and opening their doors to more and more females.”
No matter what your dream job is, Jenneen says the best thing to do is network, network, network. “Making the connections, getting out there and getting involved is extremely important,” she says. “Getting to know people is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door.” Anything to get involved in the community and interact with people could potentially be a step to you next job—even if it’s only playing softball with friends.
““The sports market is certainly changing and opening their doors to more and more females.””
YEARS AS A CPA: 23
BEST JOB: Working for the Titans, although teaching gymnastics in college was great too
WORST JOB: I don’t have a worst job, although one of my chores growing up was ironing and I really did not like it.
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Playing with my daughter, running, boating and water skiing, snow boarding
PETS: Dougal, our Scottish Terrier
If you didn’t know better, you’d think Greg Smith became an accountant just for the surfing opportunities.
As a junior in college, he was awarded a scholarship for his accomplishments in tax courses. He used the money to study accounting at Hawaii Pacific University in Waikiki. He also fit in a fair amount of surfing while he was there.
Today, Greg works at a midsized accounting firm in New Jersey, a job that gives him the flexibility to pursue his outside interests while challenging him when he’s in the office. In fact, after viewing the wave reports for Puerto Rico recently, he booked a trip on two day’s notice, arrived at 3:00 on a Saturday morning, flew back that Sunday night, and was back at his desk on Monday morning. To top it all off, he was glad to be back. “I’m still starting out as a CPA,” he says. “I love that I’m constantly learning. Every day brings something new.”
That’s the thing about being a CPA. You never know what the next wave is going to bring.
“I love that I'm constantly learning. Every day brings something new.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 6
BEST JOB: Current job
WORST JOB: Hot dog vendor at the local minor league baseball stadium (Go Lakewood Blue Claws!)
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Surfing, weight lifting, baseball, snowboarding
PETS: A panther chameleon named Crash
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Live life to the fullest and stick close to your loved ones."
“I love what I do and I love where I do it,” says Robert Riesenberg, and it doesn’t take an eagle-eyed quarterback to see why. He’s the guy in charge of finances at Dolphin Stadium.
Robert says he’s “lucky” to have merged his love of sports with his professional career, but maybe luck wasn’t the only thing working in his favor.
After all, he does have one of the most respected and marketable credentials a person can get. That’s bound to open up some options for you: “Every business needs a CPA. So yeah, the career choice does give you a lot of flexibility.”
That flexibility has worked out well for this hardcore sports fan. “One day I’m working on the Super Bowl, the next maybe the Orange Bowl, after that a Madonna concert, then it’s some Marlins or Hurricanes games…”
He’s certainly seized the opportunity to, in his own words, “do the perfect job in the perfect place.” It’s clichéd to say, but there’s not much else to call Robert’s job choice besides the obvious: “Touchdown.”
“Do the perfect job in the perfect place.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 13
BEST JOB: Current job
WORST JOB: Sales
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Playing with his kids, Sports, Travel
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Love what you do and where you do it!"
CPA license: check.
Brian Colodny entered the accounting profession for the same reason many people do: he wanted a solid background for eventually running his own successful business. And today, he and his partner run their own successful practice in Reno, Nevada.
But Brian’s other venture is a little more unexpected.
He’s an owner and driver for his own race car team. When he’s not working with clients, you can often find him pushing one of his race cars to the limit on the track. His passion for racing has even helped fuel his business. “A lot of my clients are involved in the professional racing industry,” Brian says. “Team owners, manufacturers of racing products, you name it – they’ve come to me because I know their industry.”
Brian became a CPA more than 25 years ago, working for local, national and international firms before starting his own. “The great thing about being a CPA is that you can earn a salary that allows you to have fun with your life,” he says. “You’ll be able to achieve a balance between career and family.”
Of course, it helps when your crew chief is your wife, and your co-racers are your sons. That’s just how the Colodny family rolls.
“The great thing about being a CPA is that you can earn a salary that allows you to have fun with your life.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 34
BEST JOB: Driving a race car
WORST JOB: Grooming dogs
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Stock car racing, volunteering
PETS: Dogs and cats
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Don't start it unless you plan to finish it."
What do you do when an obstacle appears in your path? Go over, around or through. That’s what Kyle Martin, Regional Director of Penn National Gaming, Inc. would tell you.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go on to college after high school or not,” he says. “No one else in my family had graduated college, and the money wasn’t there for me. I didn’t have academic scholarships to rely on.” Even his high school guidance counselor was suggesting a trade school or something else less expensive.
Fortunately, he received financial support from the W. W. Smith Charitable Trust Grant program and other need-based assistance, and was able to attend Holy Family University. It was the first step down a great path for Kyle – he ended up getting a Master’s degree and graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
He passed the CPA exam and went to work with a national CPA firm. Within seven years he’d paid off all student loans – including his wife’s. Today, he’s still finding solutions to tricky situations. “As a CPA, your clients rely on you to provide answers to some pretty complex business problems,” he says. “It’s really rewarding to have that trust and respect.”
Seems like Kyle’s a good person to trust, when it comes to solving complex problems. He’s been finding ways to overcome obstacles since he was a teenager.
Now he’s up for sharing his knowledge with others who might be in similar situations to his as a teenager. “If you are interested in working hard and achieving great things, call me,” he says. “I would be happy to provide any guidance or assistance I can!”
“As a CPA, your clients rely on you to provide answers to some pretty complex business problems.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 21
BEST JOB: Regional Director of Internal Audit and Corporate SOX Compliance Officer
WORST JOB: Telemarketer
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Golf, running, softball
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” - John Wooden
Think a professional basketball player has a lot to keep track of at once? Try playing while working in the fast-paced environment of PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City. And studying for your CPA exam.
Texlin Quinney is no stranger to discipline – it’s guided her through a career in the WNBA, jobs in the satellite communications industry and the government, and now in fulfilling her role handling special finance and accounting projects.
And the key to it all has been earning her CPA designation. “It allows flexibility of my schedule, a good work/life balance and supports my academic pursuits,” she says. “Factor in the diversity of the people I work with, the travel, the independence and the endless opportunities for growth and advancement, and I’ve got all the tools I need.”
As if to prove it, Texlin also runs her own business, offering financial consulting services and mentoring teens and she’s working toward another advanced degree.
Her days are filled, to say the least. But it’s just further proof that using the discipline to earn CPA certification is a strong step toward doing anything – or as many things – as you want.
“It allows flexibility of my schedule, and a good work/life balance.”
YEARS AS A CPA: 16
BEST JOB: Playing in the WNBA
WORST JOB: Working for a medical equipment manufacturer
HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK: Playing and training basketball fundamentals, Mentoring young people, Theology/Biblical Studies
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Inspiration offers education."