Did you ever want to get in an RV, drive cross-country, stop and meet people, and hear their stories along the way? Educational production company Roadtrip Nation recently gave three young adults the opportunity to do this—but, surprisingly, the point of their journey was to meet with current and former auditors and talk about their careers.
“Making It Balance” is the new career exploration documentary supported by the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and produced by Roadtrip Nation. It is premiering on PBS and public television stations starting Friday, June 5.
The program lets viewers share an RV ride across the United States with Sobia, Da’Rell, and Leilani, students or recent graduates in their early 20s struggling as they consider their career choices. They meet with inspiring auditors and business leaders who began their careers in audit or accounting and used that foundation to follow unique and successful career paths. Their conversations dispel many misperceptions about what it means to be an auditor and help the road trippers find their own places in the auditing profession.
The road trippers’ interviews include Cathy Engelbert, the first woman to lead a U.S. Big Four firm (Deloitte) and the current WNBA commissioner; Cynthia Boon, internal audit manager at Live Nation; and Bryan Ford, a former CPA who started his own baking business. All 10 interviews are available in full on the Roadtrip Nation Website. The road trippers chose the people they interviewed themselves and did all the research and outreach on their own.
The CAQ supported “Making It Balance” as part of its Discover Audit Initiative to introduce future professionals to the world of public company auditing and raise young people’s awareness about careers in auditing. Liz Barentzen, the CAQ’s VP of operations and talent initiatives, shares her insights with CW about this initiative and “Making It Balance.”
“We saw value in this documentary because of the authenticity of Roadtrip Nation’s productions and its potential broad reach to high school and college students,” Barentzen said.
Barentzen hopes the documentary will dispel perceptions about pursuing an auditing career. “The auditing profession transformed over the past decade to focus on technology, teamwork, and communication skills,” she said. “I don’t think public perception of the profession has kept up with the rapid pace of this change.” There is an opportunity for auditors to learn and grow and be on the cutting edge of technological developments.
The diverse backgrounds and family situations of the three road trippers makes their stories additionally compelling. “This is an important documentary because all the road trippers come from interesting backgrounds,” Barentzen said. “There is value for future talent to see this diversity in the profession.”
In her background of working with young people, Barentzen has learned that purpose is important to the millennial generation. “They need to feel the work they are doing has purpose to drive their engagement. Audit has this, which may not always be obvious, but I really hope the documentary will highlight that,” she said. Areas of purpose include the key role auditors play in helping investors make decisions; building trust in capital markets; and making sure financial statements are accurate, along with providing assurance outside of financial statements in evolving areas like diversity, ESG reporting, and environmental standards.
A career in audit also provides stability, which the documentary illustrates. “In the current COVID-19 environment, there has been a lot of instability in our world. Even when there are economic downturns, auditors are still needed,” Barentzen said.
The documentary highlights the learning opportunities a career in auditing provides and how it can take you in so many different places. “Every new engagement is a different experience, and learning the ins and outs of businesses provides a great segue to someday becoming an entrepreneur or running your own business,” Barentzen said.
“People in the profession are parents, and all have the ability to influence younger people,” Barentzen said. “I’m really hoping that by watching this documentary they will encourage the young people in their lives to watch it too.”