Peacock (’81) is Named UH Bauer Distinguished Alumnus
In the past decade, a profession heretofore known for operating quietly behind the scenes has been thrust into the limelight. Sweeping changes in the field of accountancy, as well as a growing demand for new professional recruits and a renewed emphasis on ethical accountability have been transformative.
, adapting and expanding programs to meet the challenges. Paul Peacock, (’81), a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers who was recently named the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business’ 2009 Distinguished Alumnus, was one of the primary business leaders aiding that transitional process at Bauer.
As Chairman of the Accounting and Taxation Advisory Board’s Curriculum Committee, Peacock has assisted the faculty in updating coursework to reflect recent regulatory changes. There are numerous other important ways Peacock has been involved with the Department of Accountancy & Taxation in the decades since he graduated from Bauer – mentoring numerous students, helping to forge strong connections between alumni and the college, and offering input as the department has evolved. We spoke with him recently about his thoughts on recent defining events in his profession, the growing prominence of Bauer’s Accountancy & Taxation department, and his close relationships with Bauer students, faculty and administration.
Q. What has it been like to be in your profession at this time in history?
A. The biggest change I have seen during my career was the public accounting profession moving from being a self regulated profession to a regulated profession as a result of the passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. The Sarbanes Oxley Act created the Public Accounting Oversight Board which is chartered to provide oversight and regulation to the public accounting profession. I am sure there will be other significant changes in the future. It will be interesting to see what changes might occur as a result of the recent worldwide financial crisis.
Q. How would you describe the role of Accountancy & Taxation professionals in the current business climate?
A. The nuts and bolts of any organization start with maintaining accurate financial records. From these records many business decisions are made and acted upon. Certainly shareholders and lenders make decisions to invest in companies based upon accurate financial statements, as well. Our profession is there to provide third party assurance over the financial statements in the form of an audit opinion. I believe our profession’s ethical standards are very high with no tolerance for anything less. One’s personal brand is very important and your own ethical standards are integral to maintaining your personal brand.
Q. What are some of the ways Bauer’s Accountancy & Taxation Department has evolved in the years since you graduated?
A. There have been huge changes. When I was a student, there was no Bauer College and the facilities were quite old. In addition, there were no computers. Of course, that’s all changed. Bauer has grown significantly which is partly attributable to the growth in our profession and the great need for talent. When I started recruiting at Bauer, PwC used to annually recruit five people and our internal processes were very streamlined. Now, our recruiting approach has become much more structured out of necessity. We currently hire numerous full time and interns for all of our lines of service. The Accounting and Taxation program has been quite responsive to the changing needs of our profession and the market place. One recent accomplishment at Bauer is the “Partner” designation by the IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors). That makes Bauer one of 19 such Partners worldwide. It’s a huge recognition for Bauer and validates the faculty’s commitment to remaining relevant to the market place.
Q. How would you describe the Bauer students you interact with?
A. When I look at Bauer I see a highly motivated and hard working student population. A number of these folks are not only going to school, but they have a family, or are working. They are tremendous at “multi-tasking”. PwC has had tremendous success with Bauer students progressing within our firm. We also have a large alumni population that started at PwC and they have launched great second careers elsewhere.
Q. What kind of relationship is there between Bauer College and Accounting professionals?
A. There’s a real sense of interest in Bauer, a genuine interest in Bauer because of Bauer’s large outreach into the community. The Accounting and Taxation Advisory Board is one example of a relationship being successful. The board is a very balanced board with members from large, medium and small accounting firms as well as representatives from many industries. The board’s mission is to assist Gerald Lobo and his faculty achieve success. All members of the board recruit at Bauer and many do other things such as assisting in the classroom.
Q. Would you ever have predicted that you would be so involved with your alma mater?
A. I would have to say that my involvement has grown with time, as has Bauer. I have enjoyed many relationships at all levels. Some of these relationships are with professors that taught me when I was at Bauer. I took many courses and have fond memories of all of them. I now have personal relationships with many people at Bauer. It is interesting that you grow up as a student and then you can become a business partner. I continue to learn from everyone I meet. I also believe they can learn from you. It’s a whole continuum that evolves in a way I never would have envisioned.
I would be remiss is saying that I am truly honored and humbled by being named a Bauer distinguished alum. I truly enjoy my relationship with UH, Bauer and all the people involved.
By Julie Bonnin