Brooklyn College - Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Harriet Greenberg will be one of the first to tell you that fashion and finance go hand-in-hand. As a partner in Friedman LLP's Fashion Services Group, Harriet uses her more than 30 years of CPA experience to oversee a host of clients representing all aspects of the fashion industry. While being an accountant is a numbers game, for Harriet it's also crucial to keep abreast of the constant and rapid change that is characteristic of the fashion world. So, she lends her time to industry organizations and even writes about the subject.
With a busy job that requires lots of homework, a passion for mentoring other women in her firm and raising two boys, Harriet has relied on the characteristic organization of her profession to keep up with a hectic schedule. "I scheduled everything from homework time to TV and video game time," admits Harriet. And while that might seem extreme, she says it "all turned out well" when she looks to her two sons who are a doctor and laywer-to-be. "Every day I think about how lucky I am and how glad I am that I stuck it out."
Perseverance is the key to get through the long hours and hard work required of an accountant.
What drew you to your job?
My role as a partner in my firm's Fashion Services Group matches well with my personality, which is outgoing and very ambitious, while still being sensitive to the needs of others. My job is intensely people-focused; I'm responsible for obtaining and maintaining client relationships as well as being a sounding board for both clients and staff.
The fashion industry is one of New York City's most exciting; even though I've been in the business for more than 30 years, there is always someone else to meet or something new to learn about the ins-and-outs of the industry.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
As a member of my firm's Management Committee, I work with our managing partner to plan for big firm decisions. I'm also spearheading our firm's new Women’s Development Network, which encourages and mentors women at the firm. Of course, as a partner I also handle client responsibilities and oversee audits and tax return preparations by reviewing the work of partners, managers and staff. And it seems there is always a business breakfast, lunch or dinner to attend with existing clients, potential clients or referral sources.
In an effort to keep current on trends in the fashion world, I also am involved with several fashion industry organizations, including the Fashion Services Network and the Fashion Institute of Technology's Department of Entrepreneurship. I also edit the firm's monthly fashion newsletter, Fashion Sense.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My job is never boring -- my success is only limited by how hard I work and how hard I try to "think outside the box".
Last year, due to my connection with FIT, our firm was able to award the inaugural Friedman LLP Entrepreneurship Scholarship, an annual scholarship awarded to a deserving student enrolling in FIT's two-year entrepreneurship program. Having the opportunity to award the scholarship, meet the recipient and support the next generation of fashion industry leaders was one of the proudest moments of my career at Friedman.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
General economic conditions and their effect on our business keep me up at night. Our company needs to continue to change to meet the needs of our clients. My concerns are to figure out what needs those are and then deliver solutions.
Accounting is a hard profession for woman. Why do you think you made it as a partner when others don't?
I had a very supportive husband who also wanted me to succeed professionally. I was surrounded by partners who understood when I needed to attend the school play during the work day or focus on my sick child. They saw the big picture and wanted me to be here. I also knew that my kids were better off with a fulfilled mother who was happy both at work and at home. All turned out well. My oldest is a physician in Michigan (married to another physician) and my youngest is in his second year of law school.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I'm married and have two sons, ages 25 and 26. Life is much easier now, but it was very challenging as a full-time working mother of two. My husband has always traveled for work, and, as a result, I was typically the sole parent at home.
The way I managed was by being super organized. I scheduled everything from homework time to TV and video game time and even created a menu on a daily basis. My kids were bathed and fed dinner before I got home from the office, so when I walked through the door, I could review homework, read or just play with them. On Fridays I worked at home so I could be available after school to "pay back" the other moms for all those car pools and play dates.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?
Every day I think about how lucky I am and how glad I am that I stuck it out -- even when I didn't think it was possible to do it all.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I always make time for me. I go to the gym every morning at 7 a.m. I meet with friends, go to dinner or to the theater at least two times a month.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
Perseverance is the key to get through the long hours and hard work required of an accountant. It also helps to be friendly and client-focused.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Stick it out! The rewards are so worth it. You make a great living, are well respected and have fun every working day. I've never looked at the clock one day during my career -- the days just fly by.