Striving to make accounting cool
June 1, 2022
In Clemens Stadium at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, the scoreboard is lit, and all eyes are on Boz Bostrom. He’s not leading the school’s football team to its next big win. Instead, he is helping his students gain the tools they’ll need to succeed.
Boz is a proud CPA and professor of accounting and finance at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University. Ingenuity, building relationships, a passion for accounting and a knack for educating are threads that consistently run through much of his professional and personal life. He has used all those skills to adjust to the changes of the past two years and to find innovative ways to engage his students.
“I did a lot of outdoor teaching this year due to COVID. I taught classes at the football stadium and baseball stadium, and I used our giant new scoreboard to show stock charts and Excel models,” he said. “I tried to come up with creative solutions to keep it fun for the students.”
When Boz wasn’t teaching or engaged in speaking events, he was focused on a more solitary task: writing his first novel. But even during that endeavor accounting was a central focus.
Putting pen to paper
A consummate storyteller, Boz began work on his first book in 2015 — a memoir, about his friend and all-time college football wins leader, John Gagliardi. While the manuscript was being reviewed by his editor, Boz decided to try his hand at creative writing and began working on a novel.
“We had a five-day break over Thanksgiving weekend, and I wrote for probably 20 or 30 hours that weekend on this book,” he said. That work resulted in a 100-page framework for what would become “The New Start,” Boz’s first novel.
He shared the story with his wife and two friends and received positive feedback, but life, work and other interests took priority. It wasn’t until he completed a second memoir he co-wrote with Johnnie legend and philanthropist Bill Sexton, that Boz decided to dive fully into writing the novel.
During an extended winter break in 2020–21, he “attacked the book like no one’s business,” and less than a year later it has been published and is available for purchase.
“The New Start” is described as a John Grisham style crime thriller with a focus on white collar crimes and corruption. The main character, Johnny, is a freshly minted CPA who is faced with an ethical dilemma after finding himself embroiled in an insider trading scheme.
“I’ve studied ethics quite a bit, and I’ve always found insider trading to be interesting, the motivations and how people pull it off — and frankly — how easy it is to do it if someone really wants to do it. But then it’s easy to get caught, as well,” Boz said.
Even though the book involves complex financial topics, it’s not overly technical and has elements that will appeal to a range of readers including chase scenes, fight scenes, death scenes, office romance, partying, gambling, sports, music and even a bomb.
“All the themes that people enjoy are weaved in there,” Boz said. “There are no debits and credits, and it’s pretty light on pocket protectors.”
From Big Four to MNCPA board
Accounting has always been a central focus of Boz’s life. A 1995 graduate of SJU, he majored in accounting and Spanish and played on the varsity football team, before going on to receive a master’s degree in business taxation from the University of Minnesota.
Prior to becoming a professor, Boz worked for nine years at Big Four accounting firms where he performed international tax and finance work. While working at Deloitte, he began leading trainings and providing mentorship.
“When you’re up in front of a group, and you can see that people are engaged in what you’re explaining, it’s really satisfying,” he said. “That happened even when I was working in the Big Four. I would lead a lot of local trainings, and I could see that people enjoyed my style because I kept it real life, I kept a lot of energy and I kept engagement very high.”
Since joining CSB/SJU, Boz has taught 17 different accounting, tax and finance courses, with a primary research interest in ethical leadership. He also speaks nationally on ethical issues at major conferences and for accounting firms, corporations, governmental agencies, not-for-profit agencies and the MNCPA.
“Boz’s enthusiasm for the accounting profession is contagious,” said Katie Gabriel, the MNCPA board chair. “He has a passion for teaching and the accounting profession is better for it.”
Boz has stayed engaged professionally by providing consulting services to Pentair, and he also serves on the MNCPA board of directors and leads an annual conference for accounting educators from across Minnesota.
“Part of the MNCPA’s mission is to ‘help members succeed professionally.’ I think that best happens when people come together, and I try to facilitate an engaging experience whether that is in a classroom, at the Minneapolis Convention Center or over Zoom.”
Accounting for free time
Though Boz is busy with teaching, consulting and speaking, he finds time for his family and hobbies.
He lives in Saint Joseph with his wife, Kacey, and two of their children, Wyatt and Sofia. In his free time, he enjoys participating in activities at Westwood Church, cooking — especially chicken wings — and growing and harvesting approximately 500 potato plants.
He is also involved with the CSB/SJU community beyond the classroom, attending as many events as possible, which includes bench pressing with the football team.
“I really meet the students outside of the classroom as well,” he said. “I sit in the front row at the basketball games. I’m out at all the football games hanging out with the fans in the tailgate area.”
Finally, even outside of work, accounting stays a central part of Boz’s life. He enjoys promoting the accounting brand, including through the creation and sales — at cost — of T-shirts and sweatshirts.
“John Belushi wore that now famous ‘COLLEGE’ shirt in the movie ‘Animal House,’ and I wanted one that simply said ‘ACCOUNTING,’ so I found a supplier and had them made,” he said.
Enthusiasm for the products has grown beyond the reach of his students and he now receives requests for the gear from people as far away as Texas.
“I spend a lot of time trying to make accounting cool,” Boz said.
Rachel Kats is the MNCPA communications coordinator. You may reach her at email@example.com or 952-885-5533.
Note: Copies of “The New Start” can be purchased in digital format or in paperback from Amazon, or by contacting Boz directly via LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topics: Member Profiles
Rachel Kats is the MNCPA communications coordinator, working to develop and produce publications, activities and programs that promote the CPA profession. Rachel keeps busy outside of the MNCPA by spending time with her husband and pets. She enjoys traveling, drawing, long walks, watching Jeopardy, gardening and cooking. You may reach her at 952-885-5533 or email@example.com.
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