Alumni Leading Our Community

  • Mary Jo Richard

    Partner, Eide Bailly LLP | Accounting, 1986

    "My accounting degree and management minor provided an excellent foundation for my career in public accounting and set the stage for lifelong learning. Continuing education is essential to stay current in any profession. Eide Bailly embraces lifelong learning with a robust Training and Development department."

    How did your MSUM experience transform your life?

    MSUM prepared me for the real world, which helped me appreciate the value of my education. They instilled the love of learning new and relevant information.

    Was there a faculty member who inspired you?

    Dee Ann Ellingson, one of my accounting professors in 1984 worked for a “Big 8” accounting firm prior to joining the MSUM faculty. She was a very talented educator who spent time answering my questions and inspired me to strive for a career in public accounting. She described the importance of passing the CPA examination.

    How did your time at MSUM shape you to be the leader you are today?

    My accounting degree and management minor provided an excellent foundation for my career in public accounting and set the stage for lifelong learning. Continuing education is essential to stay current in any profession. Eide Bailly embraces lifelong learning with a robust Training and Development department. I have developed the “soft skills” necessary to become a mentor and effective leader at the firm.

    What activities were you involved in at MSUM and how did they influence your career path?

    Following graduation, I was asked to participate in the Advisory Council to the Dean of the School of Business. As a young professional, I listened to and learned valuable lessons from other members of the Council. I was impressed with their knowledge. They supported MSUM and were willing to volunteer their time and expertise to the School of Business. I served with three different Deans and participated in the AACSB accreditation process twice. The opportunity to work with the Dean, the faculty and business school alumni was a rewarding experience.

    Share a story about failure that made you a better leader.

    After graduation in 1986, the next step was the CPA exam. Back then, the test was administered in four parts for two-and-a-half days each May and November. The examination is very difficult and I did not pass the entire exam right away. I had to wait a full six months before I could take the failed parts again. I had one part left when I was two months pregnant, and I failed that part (business law). My daughter was born 10 days before I had to take the exam again….this time, I passed! I learned that taking the initiative to accomplish a goal is worth the time and effort.

    What advice would you give someone striving to improve their leadership skills?

    Listen and ask questions.
    Enroll in a creative writing class. The skill of writing and the ability to convey your thoughts in written form will give you an edge when you are compared to your peers.
    Embrace change, especially technology.
    Always practice good business ethics.