Paul K. Rudoy recognizes that a structured, deadline-oriented
profession like his in the accounting industry doesn’t need extra stress.
So the managing partner of Horovitz, Rudoy & Roteman LLC
fosters a culture of openness and personal development with his staff of 45.
The lunches with partners and mentoring of personal and professional goals has
led to minimal firm turnover.
“The biggest challenge for people to get ahead is when they
don’t feel that there are people there to reach out to them knowing that the
goal is to make them better,” Rudoy says.
Smart Business spoke with
Rudoy about developing a mentoring program.
How do you decide each employee’s mentoring components?
We provide a survey so hopefully we can identify their needs.
A lot of the professional needs we, as partners, are aware of in terms of their
development but sometimes making that work-life balance we’re not as aware of.
We try to get them to prioritize what their goals are. For
certain people, work-life balance is very important, especially people who are
starting families and have outside issues that they are responsible for. Other
people, it’s purely technical; they want to be able to move ahead in a way that
is just related to their professional development.
What we try to do with that survey is ask questions
specifically on what they’re looking for for some guidance.
How do you match each employee with a mentee?
We have a mentor committee that will match them up with a
mentor. Some mentors are designed more to help them professionally and some
help them more on their work-life-balance issues. It gives them an opportunity
to have somebody on a regular basis (help them with their) goals and work on
It’s a little different than you would have with your straight
career goal where you’re getting personnel evaluation on your achievements, but
so somebody can be your champion and your cheerleader to help you move ahead.
We try to have the mentor not be somebody that they’re going
to be working with at a very significant level. In other words, the person you
work with the most throughout the year, I try not to have them be the mentor
mentee because they’re already getting that mentoring from that person in some
way or form. Try not to have that overlap so you have a different point of
Just be sensitive. Certain people are going to say this is
going to be very important to me. If somebody is at the stage of trying to pass
the CPA exam or somebody that is trying to get a master’s in taxation or some
other designation that would help the firm, we would want to place them with somebody
who is knowledgeable about that process.
You try to match them up with somebody who has strength in
that area or knowledge in that area to get them to their goal.
Who should be on the committee that oversees the program?
We use our senior managers people that are familiar with
different aspects of the profession and the firm. They enable us to get an
understanding of different people’s roles. If people are knowledgeable about
the workplace, they can say, ‘OK, this person they want to become a certified
fraud examiner, that is their No. 1 goal for the next year. Well, we want to
put somebody with the mentor that knows a lot about that.’
There has to be somebody to champion the program. Somebody on
the committee or task force, whatever you want to call it, is paying attention
to it. Otherwise it just drifts.
Nobody has ever said in any firm I’ve ever been, consulted
with, discussed with, ‘Mentoring is not a great idea,’ but they say, ‘When is
there time for it?’ There (needs to be a) process to monitor it and then to
How do you ensure employees make time for mentoring?
That is a big challenge. We have our busy season, which the
audit tax season is just extremely busy from February through April, so there
isn’t a whole lot of formal mentoring going on in those three months. We try to
encourage people outside of those times to, at least every other month, have
We do have a little monitoring system to check and see if it’s
happening. Talk to people and say, ‘You’re supposed to be meeting and there’s
no indication that you’ve had these meetings. Just be on top of it a little
If you wait until your free time, you’ll never do it, that’s
why there has to be some process to account for when you’re supposed to meet.
There has to be some schedule of when they’re expected to meet.
How do you review the process?
We do an annual review of how did your relationship work in
the last year just to make sure if there should be any changes.
It has to be done sensitively because there has to be a
process in which people feel there’s some confidentiality. If somebody has a
mentor relationship and says, ‘This hasn’t worked for XYZ.’ there has to be a
process that that person feels their review has been held in confidence.
All of the surveys come to me, and then I will communicate to
the committee. Sometimes that person (being evaluated) might be on the
It might be as simple as I think this person was great for me,
but that was last year’s goal. Last year, I wanted advice on how to become a
CPA, now I want advice on marketing and I think I need a different mentor. It’s
not always a personality clash; it’s stages in life.
Does the company leader need to play a role in the mentoring
At a firm our size and any company where everybody knows each
other by name and it’s not a structure where it’s impersonal in that regard,
you have to set the example. If I’m not going to meet with my mentee, then how
can I expect the people I’m mentoring to meet with their mentees?
I have to set the example and I have to communicate during our
firm meetings the importance of this. The people that aren’t adhering to the
program, I have to talk to them and say, ‘You need to tell me why you’re not
Some people don’t want to be mentors and that’s OK.
How to reach: Horovitz, Rudoy & Roteman LLC, (412) 391-2920 or www.hrrcpa.com