In Our Own Words: A Learning-Friendly Environment

Meet Charles Natho—assurance services staff

On the importance of a reputation for quality work…

I was looking for mid-sized firm because I feel like really small firms can’t specialize enough to be good at what growing companies need them to do. It was important to me to find a firm that did quality work. I interviewed with a few firms but I felt like I was getting a sales pitch. When a firm has a reputation for working its people 70 hours a week but they tell you they value work/life balance you know something’s off. I knew someone who worked at WBL and he had told me how much he liked it. I knew they had a good reputation for doing a good job. When they invited me to interview, they asked me about what I knew about audit instead of just pitching me. I felt like they were genuine when they told me what it was really like to work at WBL. Halfway through my interviews I thought, yeah, I want to work here. This is a place where we care about what we do.

On the truth about busy season…

I wasn’t sure what to expect my first busy season because I was told they try to keep hours to about 55 per week. I think every firm throws out that kind of number, but you never know until you get there. But I’ve been working about 50 to 55 per week. At my previous firm, when you were on a job doing field work, you’d finish your 50 hours in the field and then put in another 15-20 hours in the office to clear your points. Trying to wrap things up by email could drag on and on. At WBL, the audit department is good about completing field work when you’re actually in the field. Here the goal is to have draft statements and sometimes even the first review prepared by end of field work. They are really good about coordinating so that if there’s staff with availability they pitch in to help with overflow rather than overwhelming some people and having others be light.

On the emphasis on learning…

From your first day here you’re encouraged to ask questions rather than guess and fumble. It’s not just lip service. I was amazed at how open everyone was to helping each other. It’s a learning-friendly environment. The philosophy is that it’s good customer service to make sure that staff know what they’re doing. We don’t send really green people out to have them trained by the client. Everybody here will help you work through things. There’s constant learning, constant growth.

On when the light bulb comes on…

Coming out of school, I had no idea how little I knew. This is a job that takes several years to master. Auditors have to enjoy solving puzzles, putting pieces together. You go to a different client every week, get that visibility into the company’s operations. It’s cool to see how different companies do things in different ways. It’s not the same every day. You meet different people, learn about business and get see more of what makes the world work. Have to be okay with being frustrated or it taking a long time until that light bulb comes on. But when it does, it’s a great feeling.