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EU Alumni Perspective: Daniel Williams

Name: Daniel Williams
Graduation Year: 2002
Major: Accounting
Current Position: Advisor – Financial Statements and Consolidations– Phillips 66
City and State: currently in Bartlesville, OK. Born and raised in Springfield, MO

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I started in public accounting primarily auditing financial institutions in Missouri. I did this for four years until I was hired into the industry by AG Financial, where I assisted them in various accounting capacities for five years. I then served in Accounting and HR roles for James River Church for two years before starting at Phillips 66 in 2013. I currently prepare financial statements for presentation to our management team that then get presented in SEC filings for Wall Street analysts and investors to read.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

I have two. 1) My Dad worked at Evangel for over 25 years. When I was in elementary school, I would go to the old Joust and play video games. I also remember running in the old barracks (watch for the double red doors as they snap back in a hurry) like a maze and you never had to go outside to get from one end of campus to the other. 2) Living in the dorms as a student. I lived in Burgess Hall (B1N housed a men’s honor floor in the 90’s and 2000s, so calm down) my Junior and Senior year. The mix of intelligent, Christian, fun, diverse guys made going back to the dorms enjoyable. All types of majors, backgrounds, hobbies, but all on campus for a common reason. Pranks, video games, studying at crazy hours, two roommates that I still consider the best guys around, attending football and basketball games, Homecoming, etc…

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

I entered Evangel as the typical “Undecided” major. I really thought I wanted to be a high school teacher/coach, but after a few business classes, I realized I was probably better suited for working in a finance or accounting role. I owe a deep amount of gratitude to the professors — especially Becky Rhoades — who helped shape me into a graduate able to compete with those from other schools and ultimately get hired by a top 10 accounting firm. Being back on campus this fall, nearly every professor I had is still there giving their insight and wisdom to another generation of students. That speaks to the heart of many at Evangel as, especially in the business world, many on staff could earn more money or accolades elsewhere, but they want to be at EU.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Solid understanding of business concepts and the backing of the professors helped me immensely. I would put my education up against any of the other schools – and I do at Phillips66, as we have graduates from just about any school you can name. Also, the non-vocational aspects of life like volunteering, mentoring, and realizing that there will be tests and trials and having a foundation to not be swayed when things are getting hectic were formed at Evangel.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Embrace technology as it will make your work easier, but understand that those hiring and signing the checks still value the ability to have a face-to-face conversation. Like it or not, you are a spokesperson for the company that you represent, so be cognizant of your actions and words as they carry more weight than you might realize.

Find tasks that others dislike and want to get rid of. You can earn a small win by improving the process and saving time or possibly get a big win and become an expert at the task and develop into a “go-to” person for tougher tasks. Making work more efficient, tackling an ugly task or being the “go-to” person are things that supervisors remember.

If you don’t know what you are doing… ask. I would rather a young staff ask the basic questions in the first 60 days on the job than to ask in year two. It makes me wonder what you have been doing the past year if you do the latter.

When evaluating job offers, consider more than just the beginning salary. Some of the benefits like health/wellness items and retirement assistance could turn out to be far more valuable than a few extra dollars in your monthly paycheck.

Live like you are a broke college kid for a year or two after you graduate. You still need to buy clothes for the job and a few rewards along the way, but your 30-year-old self will be very thankful for putting some aside early on.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

  • I look for a well-rounded person. A 4.0 GPA is nice, but I would rather have a 3.75 GPA student that can carry a conversation and has work experience on their resume (Side note: resumes need to be clean, one-page and free of errors). Holding a job during college shows that you can multi-task which you will undoubtedly be asked to do after graduation.
  • An inquisitive nature helps (always have a question or two related to the company you are interviewing with prepared). You will be around people who have worked for longer than you have been alive. Learn from them and it will save you some pain and suffering.
  • Be willing to accept constructive criticism. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. Making the same mistake over and over again makes me question if you are listening and/or your level of caring.
  • If you complain to me, be prepared to present a solution(s) to your issue. I’m not saying I will implement your solution, but supervisors like to have options and dislike having complainers. In addition, if you have a well thought out and rational idea, that can make it easier to implement and it is more likely to be received in a positive light.
  • Do send “Thank You” notes or emails after an interview.
  • Do not send “Thank You” gifts after an interview. Awkward.