Brian Hamm is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Accountancy for Gies College of Business. His journey has truly come full circle. He is an alumnus of the University of Illinois, earning his Bachelors of Science degree in Accountancy in 1995. Brian began his professional career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and has worked at some of the top consumer goods and service industry companies throughout his career including PepsiAmericas, Energizer, and TruGreen. Over the past few years, he served as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Energizer and TruGreen, navigating these businesses toward achieving their short and long-term financial goals. This semester he returned to his alma mater to fulfill his lifelong dream of teaching.
Hamm believes the top tier instruction he received at the University of Illinois and its prestigious alumni network connections were the launching pad for his career, and they continue to play an important role.
Hamm wants aspiring executives to know that the business world changes at a rapid pace and each day a CFO faces new and unique challenges. “One day you could be dealing with tax reform and the next you are adopting new accounting regulations,” he explains. “You have to keep pace by building a strong team and keeping your skillset up-to-date.”
Hamm believes that regardless of their role within a company, all business leaders need to have a solid understanding of accounting and be able to work cross-functionally. For accountants, it is no longer just about technical excellence. Companies are looking for true business partners who can work with cross-functional teams including sales, marketing, and operations to make strategic decisions. For non-accountants, companies look to all of their leaders to have a strong knowledge of accounting and finance as they make data-driven business decisions and manage their profit and loss statement (P&L). The business world has become very collaborative, requiring cross-functional partners to work together and understand each other’s role.
An online master’s in accounting program can help ensure a strong foundation in accounting fundamentals and also meets the needs of those who aspire to become a CFO or another type of C-level executive. The iMSA program from Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois is a completely online accounting program which prepares students to lead their career and team into the future of accountancy and finance. Students participate in live global discussions, develop solutions to real-world accounting problems, and share ideas as well as reflect on the ideas of others.
Hamm is proud of his alma mater for adapting to the changing trends. The iMSA program is designed to make quality, affordable education accessible to a wide range of top talent. The flexible and remote learning options are open to people from all academic backgrounds and ideal for early and mid-career business and finance professional as well as accountants.
With practical, hands-on instruction, students build expertise in cutting-edge data analytics, financial reporting, managerial decision-making, audit and control, and US federal taxation. They develop data skills to predict trends and drive business outcomes in an increasingly data-driven world. As a CFO, these are exactly the qualities Hamm looks for in new hires who would drive change and have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.6