Chris Sietstra
Accounting & Finance Manager, Great Waters Financial, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chris Sietstra

A smart investment

Chris knows a smart investment when he sees one. That's why the double major in accounting and psychology chose Northwestern, and his pick paid off. He landed his first job at Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young before he even graduated, and now he manages finances as part of Great Waters Financial’s operations team.

How does your current role compare to your previous position at Ernst & Young?
My role at Great Waters Financial (GWF) is much broader than my role at Ernst & Young (EY). At EY, I was focused on various tax advisory engagements, tax compliance and financial statement audits. At GWF, I oversee the company's financial accounting function and am tasked with building out the finance function to help identify potential growth areas. My mission at Great Waters is to help the accounting and finance operations of the business perform at a high level so our client-servers can do what they do best: serve. 

What is one of your greatest takeaways from your four years at EY?
At EY, our clients would come to us with challenges they weren’t always able to address on their own. My task was to develop an efficient solution to their challenge. I learned that by asking good questions and listening well, I could make a difference in our clients’ outcomes. That lesson has translated well to GWF. I make a difference each day by asking our team questions that paint a clear picture of our company’s finances, allowing me to develop accurate insights about what GWF can expect over the coming months and years.

How has your NWC education stacked up against your peers?
When I entered the workplace, I realized how well prepared I was by the Northwestern accounting department. Professors took the time to know me on a personal level, so they could teach in ways that made sense to me. This showed when I studied for the CPA exams. I still hear Vonda’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t memorize. Make it make sense.” It’s been one of the coolest things; her voice-in-my-head encouragement has sped up my on-the-job learning curve more than anything else.

How did Northwestern prepare you to lead a life of significance?
I’m so proud of the way Northwestern taught me to be a learner and successful in all areas of life, not the least of which is my career. I feel ready to live courageously and faithfully in Christian community—and to me, that means being a leader in the workplace as well.