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Eric Grube

Caring about people, the pipeline

June 8, 2022

Eric Grube Education isn’t for the faint of heart.

It’s an awesome responsibility that educators at all levels take seriously, and there’s no greater example of this than Eric Grube, CPA, DBA, chair of the accounting program at Concordia University, St. Paul.

The longtime MNCPA member has been an advocate for would-be accountants for many years at Concordia and previously at Metropolitan State University, Hamline University and DeVry University.

For Grube, it’s not just about guiding prospects into the accounting profession, but also setting them up to have a meaningful career.

“I want to make sure they find an employer that’s really going to help them grow professionally and gives them work that fires them up,” he said. “Then I feel like I’ve done my job.”

Why the emphasis on the first job?

“They’re going to remember their first employer more than their fifth,” Grube said.

That first employer plays a vital role in setting the course for the career of the person, creating expectations for the work and experience, and aiding in those key early professional developmental years. Retention isn’t a “now” issue, but rather an “always” issue when it comes to keeping people in the industry.

Fun at the Student Conference“Eric takes the time to get the students involved in the exciting accounting world beyond the book, which is key to our industry’s success,” said MNCPA member Ruth Ann Michnay, who also teaches accounting students and has served with Grube on the MNCPA Editorial Committee.

With the upheaval of COVID-19 and the broader changes to the accounting profession, Grube said he and his educator colleagues have had to reexamine what moves the needle for prospective students, and to lead more deliberatively than they once did.

It’s shaped how students are recruited, how classes are taught, as well as who’s teaching the classes — not just middle-aged white men.

And Grube said it’s the importance on this initial pairing of prospective employee and employer — beyond typical networking and basic class visits — that pushes him to find ways to help forge those relationships. It comes down to intentionality and using his and others’ time the best he can.

In doing so, in addition to the standard meet-and-greets where firms send staff to an accounting club event or classroom to give the quick-and-dirty look at the business and profession, Grube invites firm leaders to visit for lunch at the Concordia cafeteria. Each week in the fall semester, a different firm participates, allowing students to come and go as they please.

“It’s more informal and organic,” Grube said. “If the employer resonates with them, the student will probably stop and see them at the Accounting and Auditing Student Conference and say hi.”

Grube said it’s the role of everyone connected to the accounting industry — academia, practitioners, firm and company leaders — to dispel the notion that the industry is “crusty and not glamorous.”

He’s seen enrollment numbers ebb and flow over the years, and there are a lot of factors for this, but perception may be one of the biggest challenges.

“The pipeline isn’t drying up,” he said. “But it’s less robust than it has been.”

At Concordia, accounting student numbers were up this past academic year. There were 20 registrants in the fall for intermediate accounting, compared to seven the prior year.

Grube, while stumping for the professional’s pipeline in the academic world, is also heavily involved with the MNCPA. He spent six years on the MNCPA Editorial Committee, has served for many years on the Management & Business Advisors Conference Task Force, has volunteered with the MNCPA Talk to the Students program and BestPrep, has written about the academic experience in Footnote, and he has been involved with the Auditing & Accounting Student Conference.

“I just care about people” Grube said. “I want to see them happy.”

Topics: Member Profiles

Corey Butler

Corey Butler is the MNCPA communications manager, working to enhance members’ professional reputations through content, media relations and public affairs. He's been with the MNCPA since 2013. Corey keeps busy outside of the MNCPA spending time with his wife and children, serving on his local school board, volunteering in his community and catching up on long-lost hobbies. Corey enjoys the works of John Steinbeck, and Paul Bunyan, Robin Hood and Santa Claus lore. You may reach him at 952-885-5530 or cbutler@mncpa.org.

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