An accounting career has brought Shawn Degnan, BS ’98, some incredible opportunities: traveling worldwide, ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange and, most recently, appearing on the Nasdaq MarketSite building in Times Square.
None of this, however, came easily for the Long Island native, who serves as managing director and growth market leader at MorganFranklin Consulting, a management consulting firm that works with fast-growing private and public companies and large international enterprises.
“Dedication and hard work are critical to success and help define you as a person,” Degnan says, offering advice to School of Management students and recent graduates. “You want to be known as somebody who would do anything for your company — that work ethic goes a long way.”
While studying at the School of Management, Degnan’s internship during busy season at Ernst & Young cemented his career choice. After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting, Degnan returned to EY as an audit staff accountant, advancing through various roles over the next 12 years.
“At EY, success was driven by teamwork, and I could not have learned or experienced more than I did there,” he says. “Two years out of college, I was interacting directly with CEOs and involved in critical decisions for companies.”
Degnan spent three years as capital markets senior manager in Frankfurt, Germany, helping European companies go public in the U.S. He came home with wider expertise and felt ready to expand his career.
“That was a respected group because we were critical to the success of those engagements,” Degnan says. “I gained a global perspective and a broader look at how my skillset could help companies.”
In 2010, Degnan joined MorganFranklin and, within two years, was promoted to his current role as growth market leader. He leads the firm’s initial public offering (IPO) readiness services for organizations in an accelerated growth period, ranging from pre-revenue startups to companies with $1.5 billion in annual revenue.
As managing director, he also oversees client service delivery and professional development for the firm’s next generation of leaders. This year, a top priority for Degnan is opening MorganFranklin’s West Coast office and leading recruitment, operations and business development there.
“I wanted to help executives with more than accounting,” Degnan says. “My team addresses the broader concerns of CFOs and CIOs across technology, process, controls and accounting, through a consulting style that offers deep capability and a hands-on, entrepreneurial spirit.”
Degnan says his accounting education and experience with the Big Four and MorganFranklin provide valuable perspective for him and his clients.
“When I came to MorganFranklin, we were in the middle of a large integration for a public company,” Degnan says. “I’m an accountant by trade, and the firm asked me to run that process. I embraced it and found success in professional services comes down knowing the objective, understanding the risks and establishing the right process.
“From that point, I’ve never been intimidated,” he continues. “I bring in the right team to solve any challenge for our clients.”
Outside the office, Degnan serves on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington and dedicates his free time to family: his wife and fellow UB grad, Robyn, and their sons, Tyler and Luke.
Written by Matthew Biddle