Natasha Weathers Granholm
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“I have found that having the ability and agility to adapt, to depend upon team work, and to be prepared for the unexpected are the most useful talents you can have”
In 1997, Natasha Weathers Granholm was enjoying her time as a business student at Robert Morris. She was excelling in her classes – particularly accounting – playing on the soccer team, and managing the commute from her home in Aurora to downtown Chicago. When an opportunity for a part-time student position opened up at the accounting firm of Coopers and Lybrand, the Robert Morris dean of students asked Natasha to get her resume in order and take an interview.
“I was happy to participate, I wanted to do a good job of representing RMC, and I wanted do my part to help establish a relationship between the university and the firm,” she remembers. “But I was also very honest during the interview. I just wasn’t very interested in working in the firm’s copy center.” Natasha didn’t have to explain very much further. By the time she had interviewed with the second HR staff member, they lined up two other accountants for her to meet. Before she left Coopers that afternoon, she was offered a position that eventually turned into a full time offer as an accountant as soon as she completed her bachelor’s degree.
Today, Natasha is a partner with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the world’s largest professional services firm and one of the largest accountancy firms in the country. In the past fourteen years, she completed her MBA, became a CPA, and has worked in Washington, DC and Boston with the company. She worked during the merger of Coopers & Lybrand with Price Waterhouse, developed a specialization in manufacturing and retail taxation and then transitioned to mergers and acquisitions – the area she works in today. She also took the time to get married and start a family.
Since the start of her career, the professional and personal milestones have all been accomplished as the US economy has been a veritable roller coaster from year to year. And yet, such extremes have only added to Natasha’s portfolio of experiences. For example, as she was transitioning into the partner development program, the economy downshifted dramatically. Combined with taking an extended maternity leave after the birth of her twins, it might have looked like aspirations toward a partnership reached a stall. “I was trying to figure out what things would be like when I returned,” she said. “And with a lot of flexibility and a personal business plan, I jumped right back in.” But the saying about ‘the best laid plans…’ suddenly came true. “It wasn’t working for me and my family.” She had to reassess and start over with a new plan.
“I reached out to people who knew me, knew how I worked,” she explained. “I worked with a partner who understood my business model. He helped me transition into the group and get up to speed.” As she continued to work through the partnership program, she developed a team that she can rely upon, “I had more predictability, it fits my lifestyle and I was confident I made a successful transition. I worked successfully on a high profile case, proving that I could do it.” On July 1, PwC made it official: Natasha Granholm made partner.
While the field of accountancy has been fraught with dramatic twists and turns over the past decade, it remains the most critical profession to business whenever change – positive or negative – occurs. “I have found that having the ability and agility to adapt, to depend upon team work, and to be prepared for the unexpected are the most useful talents you can have,” Natasha continued. “Of course it’s important to know the concepts and principles as an accountant, but it is also essential to know what is expected of the team and how you can work together to accomplish your goals. Often, what you plan to do may not be actually what you end up doing.”
A growing facet of Natasha’s role at PwC is the development of an honors program for accounting students. “I’m becoming very involved in recruiting,” she said. She has extended that opportunity to Robert Morris University and has been working with the School of Business Administration to involve top RMU accounting students in the program. “There is a distinct difference between those candidates who have worked in a professional environment and those who have not,” she explained. This honors program is a perfect entre for students to get that experience and develop a better resume. RMU is extremely fortunate to have this partnership grow through Natasha’s efforts.
“I’m grateful to RMU for the education I received,” she said. “I’m just so pleased that I am in a position to be able to give something back in return.”