How do you make partner at a Big4 accounting firm and how long does it take?

Authors: Fred Sroka, Dean of the GGU School of Accounting & Bruce F. Braden School of Taxation; Richard G. Carson, Senior Adjunct Professor, GGU; Wendell Hutchinson, Associate Professor, GGU.


Only 10% of the people who start with a public accounting firm ultimately make it to partner, but whatever time you spend in public accounting will pay dividends throughout the rest of your career. What skills does it take to make partner at an accounting firm and how long does it take? The authors of this post — Dell Hutchinson, Rich Carson, and Fred Sroka — are all retired “Big Four” partners who now teach for Golden Gate University. Here they share their perspectives on accounting career paths and planning.

What is a public accounting firm?

Public accounting firms are amazing service organizations. Unlike most of corporate America, you don’t report to a single boss. Instead, you likely will have many assignments with many different supervisors. This can be both a blessing because you are more empowered to chart your own career and a curse because it is easy to get overlooked or overcommitted.

Timeline and Skills

Here’s a quick summary of the different levels within accounting firms and a rough timeline to chart your progress along the way:

Associate: For the first 2 or 3 years of your career, you’ll be classified as an “associate”. That means you spend a lot of time doing what other people tell you to do. The learning curve is steep and the hours are long. Since you are reporting to maybe 5 supervisors, you have to learn how to budget your time, ask questions, and manage the expectations of people above you. The most important skill — for associates and on throughout your career — is your ability to communicate clearly, honestly, and effectively.

As to how far up the ladder you climb, who knows? However, unlike many other career paths, public accounting empowers you to chart your own course and provides a wide range of exciting alternatives…

Senior: After 2 or 3 years in public accounting, you should have developed the skills necessary to be “in charge” of a project”. That’s when you’re promoted to “senior associate”. The good news is that you now have associates below you, which gives you much more control and leverage. The bad news is that you need much better management skills to manage your time, your staff’s time, and your client’s expectations–all on multiple projects. Seniors tend to have the highest stress levels, and many talented professionals quit during their senior years because of the pressure.

Manager: If you’ve survived to year 5 or 6, project management has become a core skill. You’re now ready to move on to overall relationship management. As a manager, you are expected to work closely with the client to make sure that all the individual projects run smoothly, are delivered on time and are delivered on budget. Along with better project management and relationship management skills, your technical skills should rise another level as well. While seniors are expected to be able to spot errors, managers are expected to be able to spot risks and opportunities!·

Senior Manager or Director: While the promotion schedule is pretty consistent from associate through manager roles, the time required to move higher up the organizational chart varies widely. Somewhere after 8 years, you may be ready to move on to practice management. Managing a practice requires great technical skills, solid project management skills, good people and relationship management skills, and an ability to build teams and systems that can serve multiple clients effectively. Senior managers and directors are often subject matter experts in fields such as international tax, state and local tax, mergers and acquisitions. They run many client relationships and also help coordinate staff development and serve as technical resources for other teams.

In addition to communication, here is a list of needed skills as you climb the ladder:
Time Management
Project Management
Stress Management
Managing Client Expectations
Technical skills (audit, tax, consulting or a variety of other specialties)
Building teams and systems that can serve multiple clients effectively
Spotting risks and business opportunities
Meeting with current and prospective clients to sell services
Mentorship, growing professional staff, and building the firm’s culture for success
Dealing with urgent issues and managing the firm’s legal, professional, and ethical responsibilities

Partner: When are you ready to make partner or principal? Nowadays in the “Big Four” accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC [formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers], EY [formerly Ernst & Young], KPMG) 12 years is considered early, 15 years might be average; and some folks may take a little longer. Partners own the business, share in the profits, and have the ultimate ownership of all client relationships. It seems like the end of the professional road, but frankly it’s just another milestone in your professional development. As a partner, you’re partially architect (watching the market and designing your firm’s services to meet changing demand); partially a salesman (meeting with current and prospective clients to sell services); partially a fireman (dealing with urgent issues and managing the firm’s legal, professional, and ethical responsibilities); and partially a mentor (growing the professional staff and building the firm’s culture for success).

What accounting career paths are there?

Few millennials are confident of their career path 15 years into the future. Happily, you don’t need to commit to any single firm up front. The skills and personal brand built up in your first 5 years will produce dividends for the rest of your life, whether in public accounting or working in a corporate environment.

If you like people, like solving problems, and are willing to work hard, then public accounting can be a very rewarding career. As to how far up the ladder you climb, who knows? However, unlike many other career paths, public accounting empowers you to chart your own course, and provides a wide range of exciting alternatives (public accounting, private industry, government, nonprofit and academia) the further you climb up the mountain.

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Meet the Incoming Chair and New Members of GGU’s Board of Trustees

Randy Merk (MBA ’85), Incoming Chair of the Board of Trustees, is the retired Executive Vice President of The Charles Schwab Corporation and past President of Schwab Financial Products. He oversaw all mutual fund, investment management, insurance, and banking activities within Schwab, and from 2004 to 2007 he reported directly to the firm’s legendary founder and chairman, Charles R. Schwab.

Before joining the Schwab organization in 2002, Merk was President and Chief Investment Officer of American Century Investments, Inc., headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to that, he was Chief Investment Officer for Fixed Income for two mutual fund companies: 20th Century Investors (Kansas City) and for Benham Capital Management (Mountain View, CA).

Merk earned a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of California, Davis, and attended Golden Gate University where he was selected the Outstanding MBA Graduate in Finance in 1985. Today, Merk consults for financial service firms and teaches at GGU as adjunct faculty. He is known to his fellow board members for his financial acumen, his penetrating questions and his faith in the future of Golden Gate University.

New Board Members

Tracey Edwards (JD ’81, LLM ’83)

Tracey Edwards, who recently retired from Deloitte after 31 years, rejoins the Board and will be serving on the Law School Task Force. She previously served from 2000 to 2016.


Scot FerrellScot Ferrell (MBA ’88)

Scot Ferrell currently serves as the Chair of the Ageno School of Business Advisory Board. Managing Director at Marsh since June 2002, he is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Red Cross Chapter Board of Directors and past President on the Board of Directors for the Fairview Fire Protection District.

Francis S. Ryu (JD ’95)

Francis S. Ryu has his own law practice in Los Angeles, leveraging trial success and dispute resolution skills to help clients prevent future threats to their companies. He has been a member of GGU’s Law Dean’s Advisory Board since March 2016. In 2013 he was voted GGU Alumni Association Volunteer of the Year.

Accounting Graduates Share Advice, Experience About Their Chosen Career Paths (Video)

If you are interested in starting a career in accounting or getting promoted to a senior position, this video features alumni of the Master of Science in Accounting program who are working in IT consulting, forensic accounting, and auditing at KPMG — one of the Big Four accounting firms. The graduates were asked:

  • Why did you pursue the career?
  • What is your job like?
  • How did GGU prepare you?
  • What advice they can you offer people considering an accounting career?

Here is some of what they said:

Dan Haigh, Senior Financials Consultant, Appirio (’16)

“I decided a Master’s-level degree at GGU would help me because, as a consultant with different clients, having many classes to choose from would put me at a different level than my peers. I applied the things I learned almost immediately.”

Justin Hibbard, Forensic Accounting, Forward Forensics (‘14)

“The great thing about GGU is that you have practitioners teaching.  So I might be learning how to assess damages with someone who is working on a case like that during the day.”

Stephanie Dodge, First-Year Associate, KPMG (’16)

“Associates to the bulk of the test work and the seniors will do organizing, planning, and review work. Promotion to a senior position takes about two years. The energy you need in the cohort program is same as when you are working and need to push through the busy season. It is challenging, but rewarding.”

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Big Data & Brontobytes: Business Development Professional Speaks to Advanced Math Students

The “brontobyte” is not the world’s biggest dinosaur – as big as 12 African Elephants—that was discovered this year in Argentina — but a new unit of data measurement representing 1027 bytes. As Jerry Chang, Director, of Business Development at Mercury Systems explained to Dr. Cang Nguyen’s (DBA ’13) Statistics class said, this number represents the challenge and opportunity of Big Data for today’s businesses.

“In the age of inter-office print memos, we needed more information to make a sound business decision; now, however, in the age of Information Superhighway, we have too much,” said Chang. “The companies who learned how to analyze this information effectively will have significant competitive advantages; and so are the students who learn the critical thinking and data analytical skills through the courses offered at GGU.”

“…managers heavily depend on data and make decisions based on the data; but when setting the future for the company, visionary leaders often look beyond the data!”

Dr. Nguyen, himself a graduate of the DBA program at GGU, invited Chang to show students how decisions are made using Big Data in real-world situations.  Chang cited 1-to-1 marketing as a way how business leverages Big Data. Companies strive to know what consumers want, when they want it, and how much they are willing to pay for it. Instead of focusing on mass market, business is now able to personalize and contextualize the individual market in anticipating focused prospects’ needs. Chang recalled a situation where he hoped that Google could figure out where he may need to buy an umbrella in anticipation during his travel to a new city with an upcoming shower rain.

Dr. Cang reported to Chang for 14 years at Microsemi Corporation – a company that provides semiconductor and system solutions government and industrial markets. Working in both R&D engineering and business development, Cang analyzed large data sets to identify the best possible product positioning and competitive advantages. Based on these data-driven decisions, Microsemi was able to design better products and create optimal product roadmaps.

Trends and the Future

Rather than looking back, as does the paleontologist, business people must have their eyes on the future. As Chang shared, “success in business goes beyond harnessing Big Data and has to do with having a vision of the future like Steve Jobs had. In daily business practices, managers heavily depend on data and make decisions based on the data; but when setting the future for the company, visionary leaders often look beyond the data!”

Request information about data analytics programs and concentrations >>

President’s Report: Dr. David J. Fike Outlines GGU’s Present and Future

President David J. Fike joined Golden Gate University two years ago and has ushered in changes to keep what it offers to students fresh and responsive to rapidly changing times. He says: “Through economic booms and busts, GGU has remained impressively committed to providing a high-quality, pragmatic and professional education to working adults. That historic and ongoing commitment is our mission and our promise.”

During Dr. Fike’s tenure, new educational routes and degrees have come online that are specifically designed for career advancement for working adults:

Here are some facts gleaned from the report:

About GGU

  • For the second consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranks Golden Gate University America’s #1 School for Adult Learners in its annual College Guide and Rankings.
  • EMBA faculty—more than 80% of them—are scholar-practitioners, active professionals in the real world of business.
  • The incoming Board President, Randall W. Merk,  is a GGU graduate (MBA ’85) who is retired Executive Vice President of The Charles Schwab Corporation and past President of Schwab Financial Products.

About our Students

  • 89% are over 25.
  • 44% of undergraduates are people of color and 62% of first-year law students identify as a minority.
  • 48% of undergraduates are online students.

About our Graduates

  • 68,000+ graduates and climbing
  • GGU had the highest mean earnings of adult students 10 years after graduation among four-year colleges for adult learners.

What’s Next?

Dr. Fike reports that the Framing Our Future initiative will introduce new degrees and programs, integrate degree and credentialing programs for greater student flexibility, expand its partnerships with the business community, and implement strategic priorities and capacity building for continued leadership in the future.

Read the President’s Report >>

Can you predict what 2018 has in store for business, economics, politics, and sports? Take the Emeritus Dean’s Quiz

terry-connellyAt year’s end, I write the Business Dean’s Quiz about what the new year will bring. What do you think of my answers?



1) Where will the Dow Jones average stand at year end 2018 as compared with year-end 2017:
a) 10% or more higher
b) 10% or more lower
c) within 5% either way
d) less than 1% different
e) between 5% and 10% up
f) between 5% and 10% down

2) Which of the following companies will be acquired:
a) Time Warner
b) Netflix
c) Humana
d) Qualcomm
e) CBS
f) Macy’s

3) President Trump will have the opportunity to choose a nominee for the US Supreme Court before year’s-end.
a) True
b) False

4) Which Trump Administration senior official will not be in the same office at year end 2018 (List as many of these as you like.):
a) Treasury Secretary Mnuchin
b) Attorney General Sessions
c) Secretary of State Tillerson
d) Defense Secretary Mattis
e) Education Secretary DeVos
f) CIA Head Pompeo
g) UN Ambassador Haley
h) Office of Management and Budget Mulvaney
i) None of the above

5) Pick the stock that will appreciate the most in 2018:
a) Ford
b) Bank of America
c) Con Edison
d) Google
e) Apple
f) Alibaba
g) Facebook
h) General Electric

6) Pick the stock that will depreciate the most in 2018 among the following:
a) Netflix
b) AT&T
c) Chevron
d) Goldman Sachs
e) Lockheed Martin
f) Berkshire Hathaway
g) Citigroup
h) United Technologies

7) Bitcoin’s market value at year end 2018 will be:
a) at or below $10,000
b) above $10,000
c) essentially worthless and untradeable

8) The Democrats will recapture the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms:
a) True
b) False

9) The Republicans will hold the Senate in the 2018 midterms:
a) True
b) False

10) Sports “Comeback of the Year”:
a) Tiger Woods
b) Aaron Rogers
c) San Francisco Giants
d) San Francisco 49ers
e) Washington Redskins
f) UCLA football team
g) Lindsay Vonn
h) Rory McElroy

11) The following will announce they are NOT running for President in 2020 (List as many of these as you like.):
a) Hillary Clinton
b) Donald Trump
c) Bernie Sanders
d) Elizabeth Warren
e) Jerry Brown
f) Ben Sasse
g) Cory Booker
h) Kirsten Gillibrand
i) Bill DiBlasio

12) Which, if any, of those named in Question 11 will announce early that they WILL run for President in 2020.

13) Which, if any, will attack another country pre-emptively in 2018 (List as many of these as you like.):
a) Venezuela
b) Saudi Arabia
c) Israel
d) Pakistan
e) Russia
f) North Korea
g) Turkey
h) USA
i) None of the above.

14) Special Counsel Mueller’s conclusion will be:
a) The Trump campaign was “extremely careless” in its dealings with Russian person, the Trump transition team acted in technical violation of the Logan act, and President Trump attempted to obstruct justice by firing Comey – BUT no “reasonable prosecutor” would seek to indict the President.
b) Trump did nothing wrong; no collusion was proven
c) Trump is indicted for obstruction of justice
d) same as (a) above but all matters should be referred to Congress for any action.

15) Whatever tax change bill passes the Congress and is signed by the President into law, a major unintended consequence will be discovered during the year which will require a fix before the 2018 midterm election:
a) True
b) False

16) The price of oil at year-end 2018 will be higher than the price of oil at year-end 2017:
a) True
b) False

17) The British will fail to successfully conclude “Brexit” arrangement with the European Union before the end of 2018, calling to serious question whether there will be in place by the March 2019 official deadline for an agreement:
a) True
b) False

18) The US Congress will pass and the president will sign significant new legislation regarding the following before the end of 2018, regardless of whether before or after the midterm elections:
a) reinstating “net neutrality”
b) abolishing the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
c) providing permanent legal status to so-called DACA or “dreamer” immigrants
d) changing Medicare to a form of voucher program for new enrollees
e) repealing the remnants of Obamacare and shifting funds and full responsibility for health insurance regulation entirely to the states
f) killing the Iran nuclear agreement
g) establishing a federal/state/private enterprise partnership for infrastructure construction
i) none of the above

19) The MVP of the 2018 Super Bowl will be:
a) Jared Goff of the Rams
b) Aaron Rogers of the Packers
c) Tom Brady of the Patriots
d) Antonio Brown or Ben Rothlisberger of the Steelers
e) Mark Ingram or Drew Brees of the Saints
f) Russell Wilson of the Seahawks
g) Cam Newton or Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers
h) Case Keenum of the Vikings
i) none of the above

20) American financial firms will begin significantly to relocate their operation from London to:
a) Paris
b) Frankfurt
c) Amsterdam
d) Dublin
e) Luxembourg
f) all of the above
g) none of the above – won’t happen

Answers: 1 c; 2 c and d; 3 b; 4 c and f; 5 a;  6 g; 7 a; 8 a; 9 b; 10 d; 11 a, e and i; 12 b and g; 13 i; 14 a; 15 a; 16 a; 17 a; 18 a; 18 c; 19 d; 20 f.

About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is an economic expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. With more than 30 years experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Terry analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction of global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides. Terry holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Terry co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Riptidedeconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock, and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. Terry is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Terry lives in Palo Alto with his wife.

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Video: Director of Financial Planning Programs Accepts Prestigious Award

Dave_web_2Dr. Dave Yeske, CFP®, was recently presented with the 2017 P. Kemp Fain, Jr. Award: the highest honor bestowed by the Financial Planning Association®. This award represents the pinnacle of recognition in the financial planning profession, honoring one exceptional individual who has made significant contributions in the areas of service to society, government, and academia.

We invite you to watch these portions of the award ceremony.

Career retrospective >> Acceptance speech >>

Dr. Yeske earned his doctorate in Financial Planning from Golden Gate University and has been a spokesperson for the profession at conferences and with the media. He has appeared on CBS, CNBC, CNN and NBC News. The Wall Street Journal has profiled Dr. Yeske and the Yeske Buie approach to investing.

Dr. Yeske has led the way in bringing science-based insights into the profession through writing and his position as Director of the GGU’s Financial Planning programs. He also holds an appointment as Distinguished Adjunct Professor and co-teaches the Capstone Cases in its Financial Planning course.

A practicing financial planner since 1990, Dr. Yeske founded the San Francisco Society of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP) and has held many leadership roles in FPA, including president of the FPA Board of Directors in 2003 and chair in 2004; chair of the FPA Political Action Committee (PAC) in 2005 and 2006; and chair of FPA’s Research Center Team and its Academic Advisory Council from 2007 to 2012. At present, Dr. Yeske serves as Practitioner Editor of FPA’s award-winning Journal of Financial Planning. Currently, he is Managing Director of Yeske Buie, a comprehensive financial planning firm with offices in Vienna (VA) and San Francisco.

CFP® & CFP® are trademarks of the Financial Planning Association.

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List of Business Analytics Books and Articles for Business People

If you are doing research on data analytics or business analytics you may want to look at these choices collected by the GGU Business Library. Writing a paper on this topic or finding articles about it can be difficult because it is a huge topic and much of it geared toward a technical audience. People that want to learn about data analytics from the perspective of business will find much of value here, including how to use popular applications like Google Analytics or data-visualization application Tableau (Jumpstarting Tableau was written by a professor in the master’s degree in business analytics program at GGU.). Want to dig deeper? Check out the peer-reviewed journals or technical sources on SQL and R programming on this list.



Big Data at Work by Thomas H. Davenport (2014)  
Competing on Analytics: Updated, with a New Introduction by Thomas Davenport; Jeanne Harris (2017)  
Business Analytics by Jay Liebowitz (Editor) (2014)  

Big Data: The Management Revolution (2012)

Everybody Lies: big data, new data, and what the Internet can tell us about who we really are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz  (2017)  
Predictive Analytics: the power to predict who will click, buy, lie, or die by Eric Siegel; Thomas H. Davenport (2013)  

How-To & Guides

Getting Started with Business Analytics by David Roi Hardoon; Galit Shmueli (2013)  
Data Science for Business by Foster Provost; Tom Fawcett (2013)  
Naked Statistics: stripping the dread from the data by Charles Wheelan (2013)  
 The Value of Business Analytics by Evan Stubbs (2011)
 Big Data by Bernard B. Marr (2015)  
Business analytics: methods, models, and decisions by James R. Evans (2015)  
Data Analytics: Practical guide to leveraging the power of algorithms, data science, data mining, statistics, big data, and predictive analysis to improve business, work, and life by Arthur Zhang (2017)  
A Practitioner’s Guide to Business Analytics by Randy Bartlett
Key Business Analytics: the 60+ business analysis tools every manager needs to know by Bernard Mar (2016)  
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) by Bernard Marr  (2012)  
Delivering Business Analytics: practical guidelines for best practice by Evan Stubbs; James Foster (2013)
 Google Analytics Breakthrough: From Zero to Business Impact (2016)  
The Big Book of Dashboards by Steve Wexler; Andy Cotgreave; Jeffrey Shaffer (2017)  

Programming and Databases

R Cookbook by Paul Teetor (2011)  
NoSQL Distilled: a brief guide to the emerging world of polyglot persistence by Martin J. Fowler; Pramod J. Sadalage (2012)

Data Visualization

Effective Data Visualization by Stephanie D. H. Evergreen (2017)  
Storytelling with Data: a data visualization guide for business professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic (2015)  

Machine Learning

Machine Learning: Fundamental Algorithms for Supervised and Unsupervised Learning with Real-World Applications by Joshua Chapmann (2017)  
Machine learning: the ultimate beginners guide to neural networks, algorithms, random forests and decision trees made simple by Ryan Roberts (2017) 51reibzaacl-_sx331_bo1204203200_
Machine learning: the art and science of algorithms that make sense of data by Peter A. Flach  (2012)  

Scholarly Journals

Journal of Big Data  
Journal of High Technology Management Research  
Big Data Analytics  
Machine Learning  Journal of Machine Learning cover art
MIT Sloan Management Review  


Financial Life Planning Concentration Added to MS in Advanced Financial Planning

The Master of  Science in Advanced Financial Planning degree is designed for those who have passed the CFP® certification exam and wish to pursue advanced studies in taxation, estate planning – and now Financial Life Planning. Research in psychology and behavioral finance has provided new insights into what it takes to facilitate positive change in clients’ lives—and we have incorporated this knowledge into this innovative, research-based degree program. Students will gain the following capabilities:

  • Application of positive psychology
  • Advanced interviewing skills for uncovering client history, vision, and values
  • Understanding behavioral finance and the ability to identify specific client behavioral biases and heuristics
  • Advanced coaching skills for helping clients affect positive change and achieve goals
  • Understanding of the drivers of client trust and relationship commitment and ability to use this to develop and sustain highly functional client relationships
  • The skills necessary to facilitate financial health
  • Deeper insights into their own history, attitudes, and relationship to money

About the Faculty

The Financial Life Planning concentration and Advanced Financial Planning degree is taught by founders and leaders in the field who have deep expertise in the areas of life planning, coaching, facilitation, communication, and counseling skills. You truly learn from the best of the best, who become a permanent part of your professional network.

Dr. Dave Yeske CFP®, Director of the GGU’s Financial Planning programs and Distinguished Adjunct Professor, designed the new concentration. A Financial Planning Evangelist, he has made national TV appearances, led professional organizations, and published articles and books such as Evidence-Based Financial Planning: To Learn . . . Like a CFP.  The financial planning investment strategy he pioneered—The Yeske Buie Approach—has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal. The Financial Planning Association® (FPA) has recognized Dr. Yeske as one of the profession’s leading minds by awarding him their highest honor—The P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award (2017). He earned a doctorate in Finance from GGU in 2010.

Elizabeth Jetton, CFP® has been a thought leader in the financial planning profession for the past 20 years. She has been in the financial services industry since 1981 and served as President of The Financial Planning Association in 2004. She trains planners how to become conversational leaders and to use group conversational processes to engage, attract, and build trust.

Saundra Davis, MS is nationally recognized as an expert in the financial coaching field and founder and Executive Director of Sage Financial Solutions. She developed a financial coach certification program and received a special invitation to attend President Obama’s 2014 White House Summit on Working Families.

Rick Kahler, MS, CFP® is a pioneer in the emerging field of financial therapy that integrates Financial Planning and Psychology. He has been featured by NBC’s Today, ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MarketWatch. He is a co-author of books such as Facilitating Financial Health and Conscious Finance.

For more information and course list, contact program director Dr. Dave Yeske, CFP® (415-442-6524 or

Sexual Harassment Training and a Culture of Respect

By Marianne Koch, PhD
Associate Dean, Ageno School of Business

We are in the midst of a culture change (I hope!) at work.

We can start with sexual harassment training and related actions – empower the bystander; encourage civility; promote more women; and encourage reporting as a part of serious and frequent training (as Claire Cain Miller reports that research shows to work) – to begin the deeper work of bringing about a culture of respect at all levels of power in our organizations.

Sexual harassment is not just about unwanted behavior of a sexual nature; it’s about power. The nascent culture change that we are seeing has its origin in the uncovering of sexual harassment involving men of prestige, power, and positions of great authority. However, rooting out sexual harassment is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We have to correct the imbalance of power and the bad behaviors that can come about due to that power imbalance.

Miller has written a useful piece on sexual harassment training that is full of good advice. How we might improve on not-so-great sexual harassment training that we all are regularly put through provides a starting place for ushering in a bigger change – a culture change – at work.

In our Master of Science in Human Resources program at Golden Gate University, we cover legal issues inherent in sexual harassment cases; additionally, we teach inclusion and ethical behavior in all our courses. Diversity issues come up naturally and often in our classes because of the growing diversity among workers in the Bay Area. We believe that how we manage people at work and the culture we support and inspire are the necessary elements of a workplace of respect for all.

Request information about GGU’s Human Resources master’s degree >>