Aaron Slaughter '10
When Aaron Slaughter ‘10 isn’t mentoring young staff at Withum, which is a major part of his job as an auditing senior manager, he’s doing his best to make sure the firm’s clients “sleep well at night.” In the 10 years since graduation, this Accounting-Economics dual major has seen his responsibilities shift from being in the weeds of accounting work to focusing on client service. Fielding questions from CFOs and controllers about operations, providing suggestions on efficiencies, and even performing special investigations, are all a part of a normal day’s agenda.
When Aaron Slaughter ‘10 isn’t mentoring young staff at Withum, which is a major part of his job as an auditing senior manager, he’s doing his best to make sure the firm’s clients “sleep well at night.”
In the 10 years since graduation, this Accounting-Economics dual major has seen his responsibilities shift from being in the weeds of accounting work to focusing on client service. Fielding questions from CFOs and controllers about operations, providing suggestions on efficiencies, and even performing special investigations, are all a part of a normal day’s agenda.
For a senior manager in the audit department, developing and maintaining relationships is paramount. Public accounting, Slaughter says, is a balancing act between keeping your clients and your firm happy, which requires the ability to juggle billable work, recruiting efforts, and staff training. It means celebrating the accomplishments of your team with your team, and also means shielding them from the wrath in times of despair. Slaughter attributes his ability to handle such a demanding job to his time spent on the Hill. There, he had to balance schoolwork, football practice, and social events.
As challenging as the life of a public accountant may sound, that’s not to say that there aren’t perks. In his role of servicing clients, he may find himself on a plane heading to Las Vegas for a black-tie event or rubbing elbows with celebrities in the entertainment industry at award shows.
Slaughter and his firm pride themselves on being more than “just accountants.” “At Withum, we aim to be your trusted advisor! We’re constantly asking how can we add value to our clients’ lives?” he says. Withum has a robust mentorship program, where every employee is assigned a career coach, whose purpose is to help with professional growth. The coach helps with goal-setting, delivering constructive feed-back, and is there to help if the employee stumbles. During Slaughter’s 10 years at the firm, he’s been an official career coach to countless team members, and he’s taken others under his wing unofficially.
“It’s extremely fulfilling to watch the lightbulb turn on for someone you’ve been training. I’d get the same feeling when helping a younger player with the playbook at McDaniel.” he says, adding that he’s a huge proponent of teamwork, just as he was during his time as a defensive back for the Green Terror. Slaughter and fellow teammate Matt Cahill ‘10 were the first ever three-time captains of a McDaniel College sports team.
“Being a captain taught me how to motivate. It taught me that one size rarely fits all, and it was our job as leaders to find a way to bring out the best in everyone around us,“ he says, adding that he uses the same concepts when dealing with the all of the moving parts and personalities at work, whether it is an unhappy client needing extra attention, an eager boss wanting completed projects, or an inexperienced staff seeking guidance.
It was his time on the Hill that prepared him for what was to come.
“The ability to connect and find common ground with just about anyone is a skill that I honed during my time at McDaniel, and it pays dividends to this day,”
“Witnessing the professional growth of your team is incredibly rewarding, and it keeps me coming back for more every day,” he says. As a senior manager, Slaughter is one of the faces of the firm and is the liaison between both clients/potential clients and the audit teams. He participates in recruiting for Withum, including being a regular at McDaniel’s annual Interviewing Day. Being the team lead can range from being a teacher one day to a board-meeting presenter the next.
“I’m most proud of the fact that I passed the CPA exam, that I’m actually working in the field of my major, and that I’ve been able to leverage skills that I have learned at McDaniel to be successful at my firm,” Slaughter says. “Whether it was learning how to deal with multiple personalities, or time management, or how to push through challenging times to navigate hurdles, or simply recognizing my own strengths and how to parlay them into me being the best employee and person I can be…I learned all of that during my years at McDaniel College.”
Slaughter arrived on campus in the fall of 2006 as a carefree 17-year-old with one goal – to make it to the NFL. Signing up for Principles of Accounting was an attempt at having a backup in case the big leagues fell through, but little did he know that he’d meet a professor who would change is life, Professor Emerita Susan Milstein.
“Sometimes I stop and think to myself, how did I get here? Then it hits me that it all started with Principles of Accounting,” Slaughter says. “Professor Milstein was the toughest professor I’ve had at any level of education. She pushed me academically, and I owe my career to her. I didn’t even know what a CPA was before I met her.
“I’ve said this before, and I’ll never stop saying it – she changed my life.”
There were other professors as well: Kevin McIntyre for Economics, Julie Routzahn for Accounting, John Olsh for Economics, and Rick Carpenter for Kinesiology. The two courses that had the greatest influence on his growth are Psychology of Sport with Carpenter and Money and Financial Markets with McIntyre.
“I was blown away at how much better of an athlete and teammate this class made me,” he says of Psychology of Sport. “We touched on everything from how to prepare for gameday, to how to train in the offseason, to what leadership means, to how you should approach film study – literally everything.”
Slaughter joked that he could feel himself “becoming smarter” in Money and Financial Markets.
“I use the knowledge I learned in this class every single day of my life,” he says. “Everything from how the global markets impact daily life to debates about fiscal policy.”
“Sometimes I stop and think to myself, how did I get here? Then it hits me that it all started with Principles of Accounting.”
Still the most important lesson Slaughter learned at McDaniel is how to interact with people.
“The ability to connect and find common ground with just about anyone is a skill that I honed during my time at McDaniel, and it pays dividends to this day,” he says, adding that he also treasures his experience playing football. “I secured lifelong friendships and had a blast, while leaving my all out there on the field every Saturday for the Green and Gold.”
Recognizing the power and importance of mentorship, he has not been shy about the many mentors he’s had in his life. McDaniel alumnus, and Trustee Vic McTeer ’69, has been there for him since they first met at a scholarship luncheon in 2009. That spring day, Slaughter’s scholarship donor unfortunately could not make the trip to campus, so he pulled up a chair at McTeer’s table.
The two began swapping stories of what it meant to play for the Green Terror, their choice of majors, and what it means to be a young Black man in Carroll County. Unbeknownst to Slaughter, McTeer would become more than just a mentor to him – he has been a motivator, a cheerleader, a coach, a “temperature-check,” and an invaluable wealth of knowledge. Ten plus years later, and McTeer and Slaughter still regularly talk. Slaughter even makes of point of sitting with McTeer at every Board of Trustee meeting for the college.
Looking back, he advises students to “…be kind to everyone, befriend professors, and GO TO CLASS.” He also encourages students to try everything that the college has to offer – whether it’s a club or class or sport or charitable activity. “That’s the beauty of going to a liberal arts institution,” he says. “You’ll likely never have another time in your life to try things, potentially fall flat on your face, and the stakes be low enough where you can dust yourself off and try something different.”
Career: Certified Public Accountant; Senior Manager
Major: Accounting-Economics dual