In a highly competitive industry, MWE has made it a priority to continue promoting strong internal communication and collaboration, and focus on recruiting, firm culture and employee retention. This month, HR Director Christine Brennan-Savino and HR Supervisor Gaby Paulino talk to Accounting Today about the state of the firm and why MWE is consistently rated an employer of choice.
Before their first day at the Top 100 Accounting Firm, new hires have a history with Garden City-based MWE, as they are typically recruited and in continual contact with the firm starting in their sophomore or junior year in college, before accepting a job offer almost a year ahead of their graduation. Then, the firm pairs them with a buddy before their start date, so they can learn the ropes from someone closer to their peer group.
“It’s a touchpoint of someone similar, someone a year or two ahead of them,” explained Christine Brennan-Savino, MWE’s human resources director. “That’s something that’s quite unique. Some of them become friends before they even get in the door. We tell them to reach out, ask questions, and meet one-on-one on their own before they get here. Some relationships are well-established before they come to the door.”
Some future employees drop in on firm-organized volleyball or basketball games, even subbing in, to jump-start their involvement. This helps prevent “first-day butterflies in the belly,” according to HR supervisor Gaby Paulino, by helping them “know the players before they get in the door” and establishing a sense of community.
Craig Savell is currently MWE’s managing partner, but has only been alone in that position since Jan. 1, 2018, after a year of sharing the role with Teddy Selinger as part of the firm’s succession plan.While many accounting firms struggle with succession planning, MWE’s transition has long been outlined, and marks the firm’s fourth successful transition since its founding in 1946.
According to director of marketing Tracey Segarra, it’s not only MWE’s process that’s unique in the profession, but the fact that they’ve executed it at all.
“A lot of firms were started in the 1970s and are still run by the same people,” she explained. “Like most businesses, they tend to fail in trying to get to the next succession. We’ve been successful three times now, and now a fourth time. It speaks to a firm that’s organized, and planned from the beginning.”
This plan was shared with the rest of the firm in January 2017, an action of transparency that the HR and marketing team attributes to one of the firm’s other guiding principles.
“We used Instagram before many other firms, certainly on Long Island,” she said. “I saw my kids using it, and it’s a great way to show the culture of the firm. We showed our summer outing, the three-legged races … . We can show the human part of the firm, not just doing all the work.”
Segarra also uses the account to set up polls and other fun ways to interact, and employs it in tandem with the firm’s other marketing initiatives. These include a Twitter account and a recently established video series, of one-to-two-minute clips delving into issues of interest. “People look at accounting firms, and they generally all do the same kinds of things, and work. [The video series] differentiates our people and culture.”
MWE touts its activities, especially in busy season, as showcasing firm culture. During March Madness, the firm will set up basketball shooting games, and Halloween ushers in a pumpkin carving contest that Brennan-Savino said can get very competitive.
Recently, the firm capitalized on the trendy “escape the room” games, where participants work in teams to solve puzzles to exit a confined space. The marketing team transformed a conference room to look like a prison, and 12 teams competed for two days. “Everyone really loved it,” Brennan-Savino reported. “There was a huge positive response, and I’m sure they’re planning something similar.” Read More>>>