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SMC Alumna receives accounting award

Bridget Feeney | Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saint Mary’s alumna Kelly Neuwirth Grier was presented with the Outstanding Accounting Alumna Award by the Department of Business Administration and Economics Wednesday at an awards ceremony in the Student Center Lounge.

Grier, who has worked for Ernst & Young LLP for the past 20 years, graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

“The quality of education at Saint Mary’s is outstanding,” Grier said. “The moral compass students develop while at Saint Mary’s is very important to the need to be a holistic professional in today’s society.”

While at Saint Mary’s, Grier also took multiple International Business courses and minored in French.

“I arrived at Saint Mary’s with an affinity for business, I always knew that was what I wanted to go into,” she said. “When I took my accounting classes at Saint Mary’s, it clicked right away.”

Grier’s command and understanding of accounting earned her an internship with a local baseball team. During the summer after her sophomore year, Grier interned for the South Bend White Sox, who changed their name to the South Bend Silver Hawks in 1995.

“About two weeks into my internship, the man I was working for, the controller, was fired because he didn’t know anything about accounting,” she said. “I had no one to intern for.”

Grier said she was responsible for filling the gap until a new controller could be hired and the team soon realized how valuable she was.

“They realized the money was getting into the bank, the players were getting paid and tickets were getting sold,” Grier said. “I stepped into the role of controller of the White Sox, where I worked until I graduated.”

By maintaining this job throughout her years at Saint Mary’s, Grier became drawn to Chicago’s Ernst & Young office because of its connection with the South Bend White Sox, who were owned by the Chicago White Sox.

“I would liaise with them as part of my job, and Ernst & Young also worked with the Chicago team,” she said. “I had a predisposed affinity to Ernst & Young and had a keen interest in international business.”

Since 1991, Grier’s time with Ernst & Young has been marked with impressive accomplishments, international travel and invaluable leadership experience.

Currently, she serves as the managing partner at the Chicago office, overseeing 2,000 employees and their clients.

In 2009, Grier was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, an honor bestowed to only 200 people every year. The Forum receives around 8,000 nominations every year for this prestigious award.

“I was nominated by my CEO for this position,” she said. “Of the 200 people, only about 30 of them are American, so it is a great honor and an extraordinary group of people to be a part of.”

Despite her international recognition, Grier doesn’t focus solely on the business and accounting aspects of life.

Professor Mary Ann Merryman, chair of the Department of Business Administration and Economics, taught Grier when she was a student at Saint Mary’s 20 years ago.

“This is why I do what I do. To play a small, minute role in women’s successes, it is more rewarding than I can describe,” Merryman said.

Grier said she remains thankful for her education and the path she has taken thus far.

“I am so grateful for my opportunities and so grateful for my experiences,” she said. “I’ve worked very hard, but I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had wonderful mentors.”