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My FFF Experience: Milestones of Personal & Professional Growth

Photo Credit: Eric Swerdlow

John Gontijo

Senior Tax Accountant

Dartmouth College, BA 2006

Baruch College, MBA (expected graduation 2015)


Milestones of Personal & Professional Growth

FFF prides itself on creating an environment that promotes a rewarding career in Accounting. Recently, we asked some of our staff to share how FFF has contributed to their own growth and development. John started with us in November of 2012 while attending Baruch College for his MBA in Accounting. His story is below:

What is your favorite thing about working at FF&F?

My favorite thing about working at FFF is the staff. As a lifelong New Yorker, I’ve come to appreciate the true value of NYC’s diversity.  The city is a blend of all ages, genders, backgrounds and colors, and despite our different backgrounds, we all have a lot in common. Our office is a reflection of that, which is why I like the people at FFF so much.  We fit together despite our various differences and no one feels like an outsider.  We are all different, yet everyone can just be themselves.  For this reason, our lunch room is a riot of laughs and our firm holiday parties are something my wife and I actually look forward to!

I’ve also learned things from my peers that go way beyond tax and accounting.  After only a few years, I’ve learned how to dress better, how to engage with clients, how to apply for a CPA license and where to buy an engagement ring (yes, I trust the people here THAT much).

How has management encouraged your career development?

The partners are all exceptionally intelligent and kind.  They value the staff’s relationships with family and friends, and they care deeply about our needs.  They work hard to make sure we have the tools to succeed, and they are familiar with all the staff (from managers to interns), which is scarce at larger firms.

They’ve made me more confident by trusting me to interface directly with clients and they reward staff members who work hard and take ownership of their tasks.  They cultivate a learning environment where you are constantly growing and improving.  When any new tax laws develop, we stay ahead of the curve.

How have you grown as an accountant since you’ve been at FF&F?

What’s unique about FF&F is that we do very sophisticated work for a firm of our size.  I’ve been able to utilize my international and corporate tax experience from prior jobs, but have branched out into new areas.  Even if the work is brand new and mistakes are made, these occasions are treated as opportunities for development and you learn and grow accordingly.

Getting the chance to learn about individual taxes, in particular, has been a great opportunity to strengthen my personal network. Whenever I mention I’m an accountant to friends and acquaintances, the follow-up question is usually, “Can you tell me if I did my taxes correctly?”  As the people I went to high school and college with get more advanced jobs and become entrepreneurs, they look to me for tax advice and I’m glad to help and become involved in their professional success.

What has been your biggest accomplishment this year?

2014 was a huge year for me.  I took all four sections of the CPA exam while attending MBA classes at Baruch College.  FFF was supportive the whole way.  They treat you like an adult, allowing you to focus and trusting you to get the job done. No one ever made me feel bad for leaving the office to attend class or to study for the exam.  They even let me take two weeks off in the summer for my honeymoon to Saint Martin!

More than anything, I’ve found the place where I have a career, not just a job. I feel fortunate to be working at FFF and am looking forward to many more years here!


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