Accounting + Curiosity + Love = Auditor

Inspirational Instructor Marjorie Bailey’s real-world experience helps accounting students problem-solve

You never hear people say they love being audited. But there are accounting professionals who do love being the auditor.

Take Certificate Program in Accounting instructor Marjorie Bailey, for example. She, like many other auditing and attestation professionals, loves the field. And that love shows in her career arc and in the classroom.

“I fell in love with accounting while I was a student at San Jose State University and working part time as a bookkeeper,” Marjorie recalls.

Why accounting?

“One of the early projects you have in accounting is a ‘practice set,’” she responds. “The practice set runs the gambit for a company and provides practical accounting skills across all functions. Doing this practice set was so fun and gave me the understanding that accounting touches every department in an organization, which was so fascinating to me.

“It was also so much fun to process everything and produce a financial statement once you have all the pieces in place. I had no idea how it all worked before this, and I loved the process and the end result.”

In 1984, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and was ready to bring her problem-solving skills to the financial community.

From Tax Accountant to CFO

“When I graduated, I thought I wanted to be a tax accountant,” Marjorie tells me, “so I started at the Internal Revenue Service as an internal revenue agent.”

During those six years at the IRS, Marjorie gained experience in being what the agency calls “a proactive decision-maker,” working with various financial communities. She also discovered her passion: auditing.

“I loved the audit, so I left the IRS to work at Marcum LLP as a senior accountant,” she says.

“I am super curious, and auditing allows me to be curious!

“If you have a questioning mind, it’s the perfect profession,” Marjorie continues. “You don’t need to love numbers; you need to be curious. It’s exploring, investigating and always learning processes and how people handle these processes. You’ll never get bored because you work with a lot of companies and no one company is the same. You’re always acquiring knowledge.”  

After spending six years at Marcum LLP—and having learned a lot about auditing a variety of clients in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment—she was again ready to branch out.

From there, Marjorie landed CFO and controller roles at:

  • J.J.’s Mae, a large apparel manufacturer that includes brand Rainbeau Curves, where she implemented controls everywhere in the accounting department.

  • Communication Intelligence Corporation, now known as iSIGN, the first public company she worked for and the first time dealing with software recognition. “That company went public—which was so exciting and fast-paced.”

  • Margaret O’Leary, where she had fun working at a women-owned business and gained experience in manufacturing and retail.

But it was her time at Marcum LLP that remained closest to her heart. After nine years on the outside, Marjorie returned to Marcum as an audit partner for nine more.

Merging of Two Passions

During those years between Marcum jobs, her passion for accounting and auditing—and for learning—never waned.

“After leaving Marcum the first time, a friend of mine went back to school as a refresher, and said with my passion for auditing and accounting, I should teach,” recalls Marjorie.

“I began teaching in the M.B.A. program at Dominican College and loved it.”

Eight years later, she began teaching at UC Santa Cruz Extension, and then in 2011, for our accounting program.

“Teaching is one of my favorite things to do,” she enthuses. “Since I have such a passion for auditing and accounting, I want everyone to join me. Teaching is a way I can get students excited about the profession. It’s a blast and so many people don’t realize it.”

In 2013, while continuing to teach part time, Marjorie left Marcum LLP for the second time and took on the position of CFO at Elder Care Alliance. There, she learned about the not-for-profit industry and about working at a faith-based organization.

Today, she is a consultant and the Corporate Practice Lead and CFO at Greenough Consulting Group (GCG).

“It’s my first time consulting and so far a lot of fun,” she says. “I get to work with people who love accounting and are passionate about what they do.

“I manage the corporate group, which means we do the back-office accounting for clients and other projects, like getting a client audit ready,” she describes.

Experience Solving Financial Problems

Marjorie’s years of experience in the field and with a variety of companies have provided her with numerous real-life accounting situations to share in her classes.

“One of my audit clients had a revenue recognition problem, and during the audit we found out there was fraud,” she says. “Another client example was when we had a $10M audit adjustment that turned out to be immaterial.”
 

“You don’t need to love numbers; you need to be curious.”

Accounting has come a long way from stereotypical number crunching. A 2015 study by the Robert Half recruiting group supports the view that accountants have evolved to problem-solvers who excel in strategic thinking and who address a variety of business challenges on a day-to-day basis.

These are the types of students in Marjorie’s Auditing and Attestation and Advanced Accounting courses. Her enthusiasm for teaching the subject matter is also a boon.

Heather Liston, former program director for the Certificate Program in Accounting, says:

“Marjorie’s vitality and her passion for both auditing and teaching were striking from the first time I met her. She teaches with energy, answers student questions thoroughly and stays on top of new developments in her field.

Her classes include a number of international students and people at all levels of their careers, from beginning to long-seasoned accountants coming back to achieve CPA certification. She treats all of them with respect, and her attention and answers their questions at whatever level is appropriate for their understanding.

Her assignments require original thinking and independent research into the ways the accounting profession can bring integrity and consistency to financial markets.”

Students agree.

Students in her spring 2017 Auditing and Attestation course say:

“Marjorie has a lot of knowledge and experience about auditing and tells interesting stories.”

“Her stories bring the content to life. Also, roleplaying really helped me see how the major players in a business environment function and act.”

Evolving the Curriculum

Marjorie has shown a deft hand in adapting her in-person curriculum to digital learning—and her love of teaching has never wavered.

In fact, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, she was busy working with our staff to convert her successful in-person classroom environment into the online format to make it accessible to even more students.

And while the pandemic has already brought about changes for auditing—“They are doing virtual inventory observations”—Marjorie sees even more updates to how students learn.

For example, encouraging class participation online? She does this by asking students to keep their video on so she can see more facial expressions and ascertain how the lecture is going and if her students are comprehending the subject matter.

One student in the summer 2020 Advanced Accounting online course commends how she “was willing to answer all of the questions we had and made sure we understood the material before moving on.”

It’s important to Marjorie that her students understand all they can about the field.

“Auditing and Attestation gives them the framework to be able to take the CPA exam in Audit,” Marjorie explains.

“If the students continue to move up in their accounting careers, in Advanced Accounting, they learn what to look forward to.”

They can also look forward to bright futures in accounting after taking a course with Marjorie, one of our Inspirational Instructors for 2020.