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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Accounting

Kelley’s undergraduate program

Kelley's undergraduate program in accounting was ranked  #11 in the nation (#6 among public universities) in U.S. News & World Report's 2013 rankings.

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Lawson Smith BS'02

Manager, Transaction Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Chicago, Illinois
Lawson Smith

“I’m never chained to a desk. I don’t even have an official desk or office. My office is my laptop.”

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Lawson Smith has always enjoyed traveling. “After graduation a friend and I backpacked around Europe for six weeks,” he says. “I just love seeing new places.”

Seeing a lot of new places is one of the perks of Smith’s job. He works at PricewaterhouseCoopers, traveling the world to advise clients on mergers, acquisitions, and other business transactions. He’s gone to New York City; Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Melbourne, Australia. He even spent four months in London, flying home every other weekend. “I’m never chained to a desk. I don’t even have an official desk or office. My office is my laptop.”

In a typical week, Smith flies out of Chicago on Monday morning and returns Thursday night or Friday afternoon. The days in between, “I’m typically at the client’s site, helping them with any problems they have on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “I like the variety I get from helping people tackle one problem in one city, then two months later going to a completely new city and working with completely new clients. It keeps my job fresh.”

Other than the traveling, his favorite part of his job is meeting new people and working with a variety of clients. “All of the public accounting firms are client service–driven. You’re out there running meetings, talking on the phone, and dealing with clients, investment bankers, lawyers, and auditors.”

Communication is vital to Smith’s job, so he’s thankful for the many presentations he gave as a Kelley student. He’s also grateful for a class he took with Associate Professor Patrick Hopkins that dealt with accounting standards and the framework around mergers and acquisitions. “His class matched up perfectly with what I’m doing now,” Smith says. “The foundation that’s built at IU is definitely great preparation for hitting the ground running.”

A self-described “numbers guy” who majored in accounting and finance, Smith interviewed with employers through Kelley’s Undergraduate Career Services office and began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Dallas office as an assurance associate. He transferred to Chicago and transaction services in 2005. In the fall of 2008, he will trade deep-dish pizza for fish and chips as he begins a two-year assignment based in London.

Smith appreciates the dynamism of his job, but also of the accounting profession in general. “Accounting is always changing, and it’s a need that will always be there,” he says. “If you’re not sure what you want to do in the business world, the accounting profession is a great place to start. You learn a lot about how companies run their businesses and what makes money in the business world. It’s all numbers-driven. Having experience in accounting is a platform to do a lot of different things in a lot of different fields.”

In Brief

French connection: Minored in French, and Paris is tied for his favorite travel destination with Florence, Italy

On my resume: Member, Board of Associates, IU Foundation; vice president, Board of Associates, St. Vincent de Paul Center, which provides services for children, the elderly, and the homeless; volunteer, Junior Achievement, teaching high schoolers about business

Wine time: “Senior year when it was nice out, a bunch of us would go out to Oliver Winery, split a bottle of wine, and enjoy the day.”

Hoosier hysteria: Cheered on the Hoosiers at Lexington, Kentucky, and Atlanta during the men’s basketball team’s run to the NCAA championship game in 2002. “I’m a diehard fan.”

Published April 8, 2011