Spotlight - Stephanie Wagenfohr
by Lindsay Ederheimer
Although Stephanie Wagenfohr found her first accounting course to be one of the toughest, she was hooked when she realized she had a knack for the subject.
"I like to be challenged," Wagenfohr said. "And accounting definitely wasn't easy. But I understood the concepts and realized I was good at it, so decided to run with it."
Wagenfohr first left her home in Clearwater Beach for USF in 2006. She would spend the next six years at USF, the first four pursuing an accounting degree and the next year and a half earning her MAcc and studying to become a CPA.
"At USF, students are encouraged from day one to finish taking all of their CPA exams before getting a full-time job," Wagenfohr said. "I followed their advice and became a CPA while still in my master's program."
Stephanie began her career with KPMG, one of the Big Four public accounting firms, first as a summer audit intern in 2010, and then as a full-time audit associate when she finished her MAcc in January 2012. Working at KPMG taught Wagenfohr the basics of auditing, technical accounting research and team management.
"When I was first hired at KPMG, I had minimal workplace experience," Wagenfohr said. "But I worked hard in my classes and my grades reflected that, which made me a competitive candidate."
Wagenfohr says her membership in Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors organization for accounting, also helped her land that internship which led to her post-graduate career with the company. The BAP chapter at USF is one of the more recognized chapters in the accounting community, and provides members with networking opportunities, career fairs, interview preparation, socials, and weekly meetings to discuss the industry.
"Being a member of Beta Alpha Psi was one of the best decisions I made in college," Wagenfohr said. "I served as the president and treasurer, which gave me confidence and leadership skills."
As a MAcc student, she served as a graduate assistant in the Principles of Financial Accounting course. She says being a GA was the highlight of her collegiate career.
"It was the most rewarding thing I've ever done," Wagenfohr said. "It gave me the opportunity to interact with younger students and build great relationships. It was amazing to help students tap into their abilities and help show them what they could do."
Wagenfohr worked closely with Professor Jennifer Cainas, who says Wagenfohr was a great leader.
For example, when Cainas had to take time off during finals week for a family emergency, Wagenfohr and her fellow TA's handled distributing the final exam and answering students' questions. She even hand delivered Cainas her favorite drink- a liter of diet coke- to help make her feel better.
"Stephanie is not only smart, but a positive person to be around," Cainas said. "She can make any stressful situation better."
"Stephanie was incredible with students," Cainas added. "She helped develop her peers into leaders, just as she was, and remained positive in stressful situations both in the classroom and in Beta Alpha Psi."
Wagenfohr says that she is motivated to work hard and help others because she is around peers she admires, and was supported by so many people when she was going studying accounting.
"When you work with people you like and respect, you don't want to let them down," Wagenfohr said.
After working in the KPMG Tampa office for two years, Stephanie transferred to KPMG's San Francisco office and spent another year and a half auditing. Wagenfohr recently began a new career in the city as a senior external reporting analyst at Pacific Gas and Electric, which she describes at the TECO of California.
"Accounting is often viewed as a boring profession, but I never get bored," Wagenfohr said. "The rules and standards of accounting are always changing and evolving, and there's a ton of research involved."
Wagenfohr is now working internally within PG&E, gaining a new perspective from her previous role at KPMG, where she worked with external clients.
"At KPMG, I was an external auditor, working to ensure their financial statements were accurate," Wagenfohr said. "Now, I'm one of the internal employees at PG&E who is actually preparing those financial statements."
As an experienced auditor and certified public accountant, Wagenfohr suggests current accounting students join Beta Alpha Psi.
"Learn as much as you can from the people that are ahead of you in the program," Wagenfohr said. "The USF Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy sets you up for success if you take advantage of the resources available to you."