By Arial Starks
As a College of Charleston student, Elliott Benator knew he wanted to explore everything the accounting world has to offer. After graduating in May 2008, he started his first tax internship with Big 4 accounting firm KPMG. In August, Benator started the Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy program while continuing to work as an intern for KPMG. He credits Vanderbilt’s MAcc program and his peers with broadening his understanding of the accounting world and equipping him with the hard and soft skills he needed for his career.
“I remember one of the first courses I took at Owen was with Kimberly Pace that was all about presenting yourself and how to be an effective speaker. She would have us stand and present class after class until it became natural to us. Those are skills that as an accounting professional people don’t always think about, but they’re really important. As an auditor, half of the requirement is being able to converse with clients to get to the heart of the matter,” Benator said.
Later that year, Benator completed an audit internship with KPMG, which turned into a full-time opportunity after graduating in 2009. After working in auditing for a few years, Benator accomplished a life-long goal: an international career. EY hired him as a Senior Auditor for their Bermuda office in September 2012.
“One of the things that I wanted very early on in my career was international experience,” he said. “I knew that Big 4 had operations throughout the world, so the way I viewed my career was ‘get an international experience young, try to expand your horizons and your understanding of not only how you work, but how peers throughout different cultures work as well and try to create that global mindset.”
Benator spent 4 years in Bermuda, earning a promotion to Audit manager along the way. He transitioned into a new role with EY in Germany as a Strategy and Transaction Manager in May 2016. When asked about his greatest career accomplishment, he pointed to his time with EY in Munich, Germany: “Although challenging at first, I was able to acclimate to a new working culture where I successfully leveraged my strong understanding of finance and accounting from my time at Vanderbilt and in Big 4 Audit to help lead diverse, international teams on global buy-side due diligence and other M&A projects.”
Following his return to the U.S., Benator joined Invesco in 2019 as a Senior Manager of Financial Reporting, responsible for planning, drafting, and reviewing SEC filings, among other responsibilities. Benator credits the foundation he built in accounting at the Vanderbilt MAcc program and his Big 4 work experience with paving his path for success.
“Ultimately I’d say, the (Vanderbilt) MAcc program and then my experiences with both KPMG and EY prepared me pretty well for my current role and through me pursuing that Big 4 career path, it really allowed me to leverage the Big 4 network and build a global career, which is very important to me,” he said.
Click through the timeline below to see a visual of Benator’s path to the promotion.