Professional Program in Accountancy Brings Etiquette to the Table

Published on February 13, 2015

PPA Luncheon Aims to Give Students Long-Term Success through Soft Skills

Students in the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston Professional Program in Accountancy (PPA) learned proper business etiquette during a weekly luncheon class to help better communicate with employers and clients.

Students in the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston Professional Program in Accountancy (PPA) learned proper business etiquette during a weekly luncheon class to help better communicate with employers and clients.

A job interview can happen outside of an office, where the impression candidates give to potential employers is sometimes determined by a few social cues – how strong is your handshake? What’s a proper business luncheon discussion entail? How do you properly cut a steak?

For students in the Professional Program in Accountancy (PPA) at the C. T. Bauer College of Business, that’s where a weekly luncheon class comes in. Each week, soft skills are the focus, as students learn table etiquette and how to better communicate with employers and clients.

With the help of Dan Crumine (’86 MS ACCY), CFO of Fayez Sarofim, and Clark Sackschewsky, tax partner at BDO and chairman of the Accounting Advisory Board, organizers looked at what skills employers said recent graduates lacked.

“We’re always talking about what makes students successful. We have good technical programs, but there are other basics that they need,” Crumine said. “Basic things like résumé writing, how to shake hands and how to dress.”

A successful long-term career can often be built by the right combination of technical knowhow and the ability to communicate and read a table using soft skills, Sackschewsky said.

“Today’s society doesn’t teach (these skills) like they used to,” he added. “This provides us with the opportunity to teach those things and show students the proper way of interacting at a table.”

The program invites business partners, recruiters and CFOs from the community to be an active part of the luncheons.

“They sit with the students and give them guidance real-time on what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, so that when they actually go out in a situation where they’re interviewing for a job or interviewing clients, they now know this,” Accountancy Clinical Professor Michael Newman said. “It gives them a head start against their peers.”

Alongside etiquette, students learn what the accounting world has to offer and how to interact with professionals in the field, PPA senior Stephen Heck said.

“I’ve learned a lot about how to talk to people in a corporate setting,” Heck said. “It’s really nice to get that sort of practice. Last semester with recruiting I soared through my interviews through the Rockwell Career Center and everything PPA had prepared me with.”

By Ann Lynd