Accounting Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Chan ’04

“LMU was one of the best things that happened to me,” says Jeff Chan, a 2004 graduate of the accounting program. “As a first-generation immigrant and transfer student, I never felt out of place at LMU. The whole environment was very welcoming and supportive. Professionally, I would not be where I am today without LMU.”

Now based in Seattle, Jeff is a senior accounting manager at Amazon with controllership over the company’s global intercompany and foreign currency operation. He leads a team of 15 Amazonians with a focus on FinTech, accounting automation and machine learning. Prior to Amazon, Jeff spent 11 years at PwC where he was a senior manager in the Assurance Practice.

Jeff spoke with The Accounting Times about staying engaged and giving back to your alma mater, advice for recent grads and what it’s really like to work at Amazon.

What do you enjoy about working for Amazon?

The opportunities at Amazon. Working at Amazon Accounting is fast-paced, large scale, rewarding and never boring. You will learn a lot, be challenged professionally while constantly thinking about long term, and get to do some really amazing things. Even with the current pandemic, we didn’t rescind any of our internship offers this summer. We found a way to onboard them and stay connected with them virtually. Today, Amazon Accounting is still looking for talent at various levels and I love talking to candidates about our opportunities.

The culture at Amazon. As Amazonians, we are very passionate about our culture. We have 14 leadership principles that push us to be at our best professionally. These principles remind us to work backward from our customers, have a long-term focus, think big, and never settle – among many more. It is a very unique and rewarding place to work.

Some say you should start your accounting career in public accounting but I don’t think it matters. There are great opportunities on both sides.

You’ve given to LMU Accounting every year since you’ve graduated. Why?

As someone who grew up in a single parent family where financial resources were limited, I have been extremely fortunate. While attending LMU, I was given a grant, a scholarship and a subsidized federal Stafford loan. The work study program enabled me to be a research assistant for the CBA. I also worked full-time at the campus bookstore during the semester breaks and received employee discounts on my textbooks. Finally, I received free housing and a meal plan as a resident advisor during my senior year. In order for me to take advantage of these benefits, someone else paid for them on my behalf. Giving back to LMU is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the logical thing to do.

Any advice on how to stay engaged with your alma mater after you graduate?

As long as you’re willing, staying engaged is easy. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you live/work. It only takes five minutes to make a gift online. It takes another five minutes to email a faculty member to check in. It takes about an hour to do a virtual coffee chat with students. My point is – leverage technology, be creative and find a way. As alumni, we can make a meaningful difference for students and the accounting program. I encourage others to make that gift or volunteer a little bit of your time. If you value your experience at LMU, hopefully that’s enough incentive to stay engaged.

Any advice for accounting students and recent graduates amidst the current pandemic?

Aggressive patience. What you want might not happen quickly but continue to put in the work, focus on your goals, make continuous improvement, and good things will happen.

Give and take. It’s easy to talk about what you want, but think about what you’re willing to give up for what you want. Once you have a price in mind, doing what is needed in pursuit of your goals is easy. You are mentally prepared for what you are willing to sacrifice, now you just need to put in the work.

What else happened to you as an LMU student that impacted your career?

Thanks to the LMU network, I’ve met many great individuals over the years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people.

The Accounting Faculty | It’s hard to name a favorite accounting professor because I truly enjoyed all of them (Alan Falcon, George Dasaro, Mahmoud Nourayi, Ross Bengel, Frank Daroca). I learned a lot from them and will always remember the high standards they set for themselves and the students.

Scott Covey ’96, MBA ’01 | I didn’t have any internships lined up with the public accounting firms after my junior year. At the time, Scott was the director of internal audit at a Fortune 1000 company and he coordinated with the LMU Accounting Department to offer three paid summer internships. I secured one of those internships and gained valuable SoX experience along with two other students (Derek Wong ’04 and Colin Chin ’04). That certainly helped me receive five full-time offers from accounting firms during my senior year.

Jill Tregillis ’91 | Jill interviewed me on campus for a full-time position at PwC. I remember being so nervous for my first interview with a public accounting firm. She took a chance on me when she didn’t have to. Thanks to Jill, I started my public accounting career at PwC.

LMU Accounting is what it is today because of the faculty and alumni like Scott and Jill.

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For information on giving back to LMU Accounting, please contact Roberta Kuhlman, Sr. Director of Development for the CBA, at Roberta.Kuhlman@lmu.edu. To make an online gift, click here.

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