By Annie Rhoades
Some instinctively know what career they want to pursue from an early age. Those who are steadfast and determined often see that career come to fruition. Alumnus Brian Roberson (BAccy 92, MAccy 93), CPA, audit partner with KPMG’s New York audit practice, vividly recalls the day he knew he wanted to become a certified public accountant (CPA).
“When I was in the eighth grade I lived in Pennsylvania, and I was going to the grocery store with my mom,” Roberson said. “We pulled up behind a Porsche 944, which was at that time my dream car, and the license plate said, ‘I’m a CPA,’ with the letters IMA CPA. I asked my mom what a CPA was, and she said it’s a person who does taxes. I told her that’s what I want to be.”
While Roberson jokes that he never did taxes and doesn’t drive a Porsche 944, he credits that day for sparking his interest in accounting.
A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Roberson graduated from Fort Wayne High School in 1988 initially set on attending Purdue University.
“During my senior year in high school my dad got transferred to Corinth, Miss., to work for Dana Corporation,” Roberson said. “We spent Christmas in Corinth that year, and I met a man named Clifford Worsham (BSCVE 39), who was an Ole Miss graduate. He took my parents and me down to Oxford during Christmas break and introduced me to a vice chancellor and several other people. I basically fell in love with the school that day.”
Roberson was particularly impressed with the Patterson School of Accountancy and its rigorous curriculum. After accepting a scholarship he enrolled at the university the following fall.
“Probably the two teachers I was most fortunate to have were Mr. Gene Peery and Dr. James Davis (BBA 62, MS 63, PhD 72), who I’m still close to today,” said Roberson. “I was Dr. Davis’ grader when I was in graduate school and, we grew very close. I was also lucky to have Dr. Dave Nichols, Dr. Dale Flesher and Dr. Tonya Flesher (PhD 79). I was treated very well by all of the professors at Ole Miss. They were always looking out for my best interest.”
After receiving a master’s degree in 1993, Roberson began working for the Memphis office of Arthur Andersen where he remained for the next nine years working closely with his mentor Tim Cantrell (BBA 79).
“Tim was very helpful in kick starting my career,” Roberson said. “When I started he was a partner with Arthur Andersen in Memphis and ended up leaving to go to KMPG. He identified an opportunity for me to come to the KPMG national accounting technical office in New York for a two- to three-year rotation.”
Roberson relocated to NYC to begin working for KPMG in 2002 and soon had the opportunity to interview for a fellowship with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington.
“Thankfully I was accepted into that program, which is a great program in the accounting world,” said Roberson. “You work with the chief accountant at the SEC, which is the final say on all accounting and auditing matters in the U.S.”
After completing the fellowship, Roberson returned to KPMG in 2006 where he was directly admitted as a partner. He worked in the firm’s national office for two years before rotating out into the New York operating office in 2008, working in audit practice for KPMG’s New York metro audit practice.
While Roberson enjoys living only a 50-minute train ride away from the heart of the Big Apple in Darien, Conn., with his wife Lea Ann Hughes Roberson (BA 92) and their two children, he gets back to Oxford as often as possible to visit with family and attend football games.
“I came back this past year for the Tennessee game and the Egg Bowl,” Roberson said. “I typically only get to come back once or twice a year, but that will change soon as I was recently named the campus liaison to Ole Miss for the New York office of KPMG. I’ll get the opportunity to come down to Oxford even more and be involved in recruiting. It’s another badge for Ole Miss because it is one out of I believe 25 of KPMG’s premier schools. We’ve decided to kick up our recruiting presence a notch, and one of the schools that was identified for doing that was Ole Miss. New York is making an effort to go after Ole Miss, and I’m looking forward to helping fulfill that role.”