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    Accounting Career Moves: When Faced with a Choice, Do You Go with Prestige or Power?

    By | January 11, 2013

    Let's use Luca Maestri’s move from Xerox to Apple as a discussion starter:

    Apple Inc. (AAPL), the world’s most valuable company, has hired Xerox Corp. (XRX) Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri as its corporate controller. […] “Moving from Xerox to Apple is a step up, even going from CFO to controller,” John Bright, an analyst at Avondale Partners LLC, said in an interview. “Is this a stepping stone? It certainly could be.”
    But he was CFO, wasn’t he? Some people would never give up the access, power, and control that a CFO position provides them. Hell, for some organizations, the CFO can be the de facto boss and it can eventually lead to the big chair. 
     
    Maestri’s move is certainly a calculated one –- he’s giving up title for a subordinate position at a far more prestigious company and maybe the outside shot at one day becoming the CFO of said prestigious company. In a way he's letting go of ego a bit here by sacrificing the C-suite, but at the same time he's feeding it by ditching a has-been for one of the most successful companies in the history of U.S. business.
     
    Similarly, we've seen many, many people (read: KPMG partners) leave their jobs to join PwC, presumably leaving the fast track to the top echelons of the House of Klynveld for lesser roles within a firm that is accepted as the most prestigious in its industry.
     
    So if (or when) faced with a similar choice in your career, which way do you go? Will your ambition get the best of you or does playing on the best team mean more? Discuss.
     
    • indentured servant

      i loled when you tried to imply the difference in prestige between KPMG and PWC is as big as that between Apple and Xerox. for the record i work for neither

      we’re just accountants people. nobody cares which slavedriver you are indentured to

    • TaxGuest

      I left PwC for one of the “lesser” B4 firms (not KPMG). Even if PwC is more prestigious, and it certainly has the larger clients in my area, I think my “backwards” move was better. At least in the case of public accounting, there isn’t much of a difference between the firms. I’m also getting significantly more exposure to interesting clients and challenging work than I had at PwC. There are also a LOT of ex-PwC people here.

    • $19577774

      Sometimes you have to take one step back before you can take two steps forward. If you know where you’re going, it’s a lot easier to make decisions along the way to get you there.

      What is more prestigious, manager at a 2nd tier firm or senior at a Big 4? Starting pitcher on a AAA ball club or relief pitcher in the show? Chief Editor at Going Concern or beat writer for pretty much any legitimate news organization? Lead actor in a B movie or supporting actor in a Tarantino flick? A+ student at DeVry or C- student at Harvard?

      • Sidney

        take it easy now

    • keepin_it_real

      I think those KPMG partners left more for money rather than prestige. KPMG has the lowest avg pay for partners compared to the other big 4.

      • Guest

        KPMG has the lowest pay at just about every level (even for first year associates) compared to the rest of the Big4.

        • yoyomaa

          Not true. Depends on practice and office, and usually the differences are minor. I’d take a 10% utilization difference and $3,500 salary difference any day.

        • guest

          Depends on the office. In my area, KPMG pays first year hires the most.

    • Hgb

      Pwc most prestigious. Big joke!!

    • Wow

      Is this PWC > *Big4 bullshit residual thinking from Price Waterhouse being the best in the Big 8 or something? Because I don’t see what the fuss is about at all. People need to move into the 21st century and realize that PwC isn’t the McDonald’s of the big accounting firms.

      • Guest

        WTF are you talking about? McDonalds sucks. Are you comparing PwC to McDonalds (i.e. they suck) or PwC to McDonalds (i.e. they’re awesome) in which case I must assume you’re a greasy fat slob and I can hear you getting fatter.

        • Wow

          McDonald’s is the most “prestigious” and recognizable fast food place whether you like it or not.

          • NOBODY

            So prestigious that I refuse to eat there.

        • Seven and a Half

          I bet you have chiseled abs. And a sunken chest.

    • Curioso

      Every American is motivated by one of the following: money, sex, or power. If you look inside yourself, you will know which one of the three means the most to you. I don’t think the power or prestige distinction is as accurate.

      This whole thread is off topic to Luca Maestri anyway. That guy is really hot. Where did HE work before he went into the private sector? Odds are, he started at a big accounting firm. (And no I can’t go look it up because I can only have one browser window open at a time. Don’t hate on my limited tech.)

      • Not really answering question

        He was born in Italy. And yes he is attractive.

      • yoyomaa

        Every *person* is motivated by money, sex, or power. Fucking Americans, so self-centered they think they’re the only people with flaws.

    • BeezNeezCPAMBA

      He was probably offered the CFO role if he sticks around enough and actually likes what the CFO does at Apple. I smell an auditor switch coming?