St. Francis College provided Igor Mladenovic the opportunity to follow his passions in the water and in the corporate world. The Serbian native was part of the stand-out St. Francis College water polo team while pursuing his bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting.
Immediately after graduation in 2015, Igor began his career at EY (Ernst & Young), one of the world's four biggest accounting firms (known as the Big Four). He is among the many SFC accounting alumni forging successful Big Four careers. Headquartered in London, EY has about 300,000 employees in 700 offices across 150 countries.
Igor is now Manager in EY Consulting Group, having moved divisions and risen the ranks during his five-years-and-counting with the company. His group focuses on driving profit and cost cutting, regulatory readiness and strategic transformation for clients within the capital markets industry
Igor recently reflected on his SFC career and his professional journey after.
Where are you from originally?
I'm from Belgrade, Serbia, like vast numbers of my teammates/alumni on the [SFC] water polo team. I moved to the United States intending to compete on the highest level of water polo while simultaneously pursuing excellent education; therefore, SFC college was a no brainer for me. It is a known fact that SFC is regarded for its academic and also water polo success.
Did you start SFC knowing you'd major in accounting?
Not at all. I knew I'd do something related to finance or business. My first year I was really exploring and researching the best majors for me. I was also focused on perfecting English as my second language.
A few of my teammates were accounting majors, and they had very good internships. I heard it was a challenging, tough major with great professors. I decided in my sophomore year to make it my major.
Is there a professor or class that was particularly important to your choosing accounting?
Yes, Dr. [Geoffrey] Horlick [retired Chair of the Department of Accounting & Business Law and former Program Director of the MS Program in Accounting]. He was one of the toughest professors, and he was teaching one of the most challenging courses, Intermediate Accounting. I thought if I do well in this class, I'd have a good chance of getting an internship. We measured success by having a good grade in Dr. Horlick's class. That was the benchmark.
How did you land your internships while at SFC?
I was lucky to get internship experience early on. My first internship was with Merrill Lynch at the end of sophomore year. I got it through a teammate who used to work there and connected me with his former manager. It was unpaid for three months. It introduced me to corporate America.
My first paid internship was at the end of my junior year. I got it through the accounting department. I worked for a year with JP Morgan Chase. The department helps arrange for a few students each year to intern there. I really enjoyed it.
After that, through an SFC alumni, I got an internship with Guggenheim Securities. I spent a year there also.
When I graduated with my master's degree, I already had three internships under my belt.
How did you get into EY?
Because I'm not from the U.S., I required a visa sponsorship to work here. Not every company is willing to provide that.
Through SFC's Career Center and Accounting Department, I was submitting my resume mainly to big companies. EY was one of them. I was lucky enough to be selected for an interview and to receive a job offer.
What's been your career path at EY?
Originally, I worked as an auditor. After two years, I decided I wanted to do something else, so I transferred to a different department. I was able to become part of Ernst & Young Consulting Group.
The name of my group is Strategy and Business Transformation. What we do is try to transform and optimize processes and operations for clients within the capital markets industry.
What misconceptions exist about accountants?
It's a common misconception that accountants are all bookkeepers. It's much more than that.
I think accounting is a good base for any business idea you have or any work you want to perform in a business setting. Accounting is the bread and butter of everything in business. I think I'm successful today only because I have a good base of knowledge in accounting.
There are a lot of successful investment bankers and business leaders who were accountants in the beginning. People who start in accounting have a bright future. They can pick and choose what they want to do later on.
How does the accounting education you received at St. Francis College stack up with that of your colleagues from bigger schools?
Equal if not better. The knowledge my classmates and I received from Dr. Horlick and Dr. [Carmine] Nogara [Chair of Accounting and Business Law Department] and other professors was just tremendous.
How do you remember St. Francis College today?
All the people I encountered at St. Francis were very helpful. It is just a very welcoming place. It was my second home given I was apart from my family in Serbia. Even today, I can say St. Francis College is my second home.