Binghamton University

02/26/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2024 05:00

How a Binghamton University grad’s path to accounting career inspired his adventures around the world

A giraffe crossing the road in front of a safari vehicle in South Africa is just one of the vivid memories Patrick Wong '07, MBA '10, carries from a recent once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Smiling, he compares his reaction to Jeff Goldblum's character in the first Jurassic Park film when the majestic Brachiosaurus appears on screen for the first time.

What does this have to do with Wong's job these past four years as a senior manager at Ernst & Young's Financial Accounting Advisory Services practice in New York City? Directly, nothing.

But indirectly, Wong's passion for travel - adventures ranging from that safari in South Africa to the Alaskan glaciers or the Utah deserts - and discovering his professional calling were both achieved by a willingness to challenge his own preconceptions. He credits the diverse experiences he gained from Binghamton University's School of Management and the career he found after graduating with making that possible.

Wong's initial impressions of accounting didn't stretch far beyond the notion of "crunching numbers." While growing up in a family of six, he never considered what world travel had to offer beyond the manageable road trips they enjoyed from time to time.

By embracing the opportunity for a new experience at Binghamton, Wong learned how accounting proves critical to the business world. He was most intrigued by how the field draws upon a unique set of skills that could be applied in many ways.

"Just as being literate is a basic skill needed to write a novel, being accounting literate and understanding a balance sheet and what drives financial results is foundational to running a business and succeeding," Wong said. "The value comes from being the one who's able to read those financial statements and provide management with analysis and recommendations of how to better the business."

Building a network

At first, Wong's academic interests at Binghamton leaned more toward engineering or the law. Then, he attended his first career fair.

The potential of landing a job at one of the "Big Four" accounting firms in New York City became his primary focus through meeting interesting professionals from those accounting firms who shared more about their careers. These competitive jobs attracted many professionals who matched Wong's own personality.

Mentors, both at Binghamton and in the professional arena, taught Wong how to apply himself and navigate his career. It's a favor he's tried to repay whenever he returns to Binghamton to speak with SOM students, including delivering a Commencement speech for the 2018 Professional MBA class.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without the alumni network, so that's part of why Binghamton means so much to me," Wong said. "I've heard many leaders say that success isn't only measured by how well they do for themselves; it's also measured by how many people and careers they impact."

Finding his niche in accounting

Depending on his clients' priorities, the nature and scope of Wong's job can stray from the typical image of an accountant. One of his specialties in working with clients at EY is supporting their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy and reporting.

Wong learned companies are increasingly interested in managing their ESG risks (quantifying their portfolios' exposure to weather and climate events, understanding the correlation of workplace culture and turnover rates) and taking advantage of business opportunities such as servicing an underserved community and providing ESG products that meet investor demand.

"This is one of the unique aspects of this type of job, and it's dictated a lot by what's important to your clients and what they hire you for," Wong said. "That's why it's important to have a strong network and forge good relationships with your clients in order to know what's on their mind and important to them in their role."

Patrick Wong '07, MBA '10 visits Yosemite. Image Credit: Patrick Wong.
Patrick Wong '07, MBA '10 visits Yosemite. Image Credit: Patrick Wong.

Seizing new opportunities

Making connections and gaining new perspectives is also why travel remains among Wong's most passionate hobbies. He loves feeling connected to nature, whether hiking through Yosemite National Park or exploring the Canadian Rockies and experiencing the different cultures and food in the world.

Throughout his travels and career experiences, Wong has gained a deeper understanding of how to seize opportunities when they arise so he can seek out innovative solutions in an ever-changing industry and profession.

"You will inevitably run into setbacks, but you can only control how you react and respond," he said. "My approach has been to evaluate what went wrong and better myself to take advantage of the existing situation, identify other or future opportunities, or create one myself."