#AuditorProud 2018: Celebrating Rhonda Klosler's journey
INSIGHT ARTICLE |
Every year in September, auditors around the world share stories and experiences as part of the #AuditorProud day celebrations. This year, two of RSM Canada’s long-serving audit professionals, Brett Medeiros and Rhonda Klosler, take center stage. Both Brett and Rhonda began their auditing journey through co-op student placements and both have successfully progressed through the firm to their current roles as audit manager, as well as chief operating officer (COO) and Toronto Office Managing Partner (OMP), respectively. In an interview with Rhonda, we learn what key events supported her growth in the auditing profession and what makes her #AuditorProud. Also read Brett’s interview here.
Was there a particular event or program that first drew you to auditing as a profession?
The pivotal decision for me in high school was the decision to work doing something I enjoyed and I always had an affinity to math and accounting. I was also focused on going into a co-operative program where I could learn and work at the same time. These desires directed my choice to study at Brock University. Four months into my program, I was hired as part of the co-op program with a small firm. I joined that same firm full-time in 1993, progressing through the ranks, becoming an audit partner in 2001.
How did co-op programs assist you as an auditor?
Co-op programs create win-win situations for employers and students. My co-op gave me practical experience in auditing and accounting in real time and I saw how the technical aspects of the curriculum apply in real life. The auditing career sees the breadth of industries and exposures. It’s an amazing platform for a career in business; a four-month work term shows you a lot of different businesses and in my case, that co-op exposed me to many key relationships which I still have to this day. To share one particular client example, I started with this middle market business as a co-op student and eventually became the partner on the file – leading me to work with this family business across three generations of leadership and that relationship continues to exist today!
How have you seen the auditing profession evolve during your career?
As much as the auditing profession has changed since my time at the co-op, for me the fundamentals still remain. This was a people business when I started my career in auditing and it still is. To get to the auditor's report is all about working with people and building relationships. It really is a team sport! I love what I do because of the people I work with as well as the clients.
Can you share some experiences that have helped you progress your career?
After reaching partner with RSM Canada’s predecessor firm, my next big pivotal event was meeting Harry Blum and the merger of my former firm with his. This was a big step towards my current role. The firm cultures were vastly different and I thrived in the entrepreneurial, driven environment. Our combined firm represented something unique in the Toronto market and really allowed us to take advantage of the opportunity. After the merger, we realized we needed to focus on our own business and move to a centralized decision-making model. Harry and I gave up client practice to allow us to focus on growing our business. We also needed to focus on building the infrastructure to support a growing firm. It was at this time that I was asked to take on the COO role, and as we grew our presence in Canada, I most recently took on the role of Toronto Office Managing Partner.
What advice do you have for new auditors or those just beginning their careers?
I would say do a co-op or internship and leverage those relationships. Go to a firm that allows you the opportunity to get a wide breadth of client experiences. This will help you gain a wider variety of experience and have a greater level of responsibility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to put your hand up. People joke that I have only had one employer but through several key relationships and a series of mergers, I have progressed to COO and OMP with that one firm, largely through being proactive, driven and maximizing those relationships. It’s also important to know what your special skills are. In my case, I'm a builder and I am very transparent and honest as a leader, meaning that I can build teams, processes and service lines and my authenticity resonates. People buy into the vision.
Why are you proud to be an auditor?
I’m proud to be an auditor because it means I get to be part of a business's evolution. I’m proud of my 30-year relationship with the business and I’m proud of the fact that we help solve problems, both for our own business and our clients. Being a COO and OMP, I’ve addressed the same solutions and problems our clients face. We're building a business too - so we relate. We learn from our clients as much as they learn from us. For example, in 2016 we, as a firm, decided we needed to become a global brand. This decision came about because we knew we needed to follow our clients, the majority of which had become global. Without that realization, we would not have become the firm that RSM chose to build out in Canada and it’s thanks to our clients.