Discover former accountants

Accountants of the past
By Alex Burden, Senior Digital Editor

27 May 2016

We all know that chartered accountancy is the best profession in the world, but what happens to those people who find their lives diverging from the pathway to accounting and finance?

A definite theme has emerged: former accountants or accounting students end up in music, comedy or wrestling! Check out our list of famous people who took numbers as their first love.

Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts

Chuck Liddell is a now-retired Mixed Martial Arts fighter and Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) who specialised in Koei-Kan karate, kickboxing, Kempo, Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. He’s currently known as holding the ‘most knockouts’ record in UFC history, but also happens to be a trained accountant. Yes, the fighter attended California Polytechnic University, graduating with a BA in Business and Accounting.

D’Lo Brown is another (semi-retired) professional wrestler who has held the World Wrestling European and Intercontinental championship belts. And under those belts he was hiding a Certified Public Accountant degree from the University of Maine!

Music

Kenny G, world-famous smooth jazz saxophonist and best-selling modern instrumental musician, once held the record for longest e-flat note (over 45 minutes). He began by playing sax at the age of ten, but was undecided about which path to take in his formative years. Kenny continued music while studying accounting at the University of Washington, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Gibby Haynes is known for two major credits: being lead singer of legendary psychedelic punk-rock band, the crudely-named Butthole Surfers, and crowned as ‘Accounting Student of the Year’ at Trinity University in San Antonia, Texas! He worked with Peat Marwick for a year before moving into music.

Led Zeppelin frontman, Robert Plant, was being prepped to become a chartered accountant on the wishes of his father, and even attended accountancy lessons when he 16. They lasted two whole weeks before he went to college to purse his music career!

Perhaps the most famous of all is Mick Jagger, who attended the London School of Economics to study accounting and finance – on a scholarship, no less! Unfortunately, he didn’t complete a full year of school and the rest is rock’n’roll history.

Comedy

Marathon-runner, successful comedian, film star and accountant? Eddie Izzard’s father, Harold John Izzard was an accountant for BP in Yemen, so it was only natural that Eddie ended up at the University of Sheffield to study accountancy and financial management… where he spectacularly failed all of his exams. Unable to retake the course, he took to street-performing and worked his way up to the comedian he is today.

Comedian Bob Newhart worked as an accountant with the United States Gypsum Corporation after being drafted to fight in the Korean War. You might not have wanted to work alongside him though, he claims to have often balanced the petty cash books from his pocket and had a saying of ‘close enough’ for accounts! It’s not surprising that he was accused of unsound accounting practices. He certainly knew his way around money and economic worth, however: he claims to have been an unemployment clerk on $55 per week, and quit when he realised the unemployment benefits were $45 per week for attending the same office every seven days!

Tim DuBois has always had two great loves: he’s a Certified Public Accountant, and a music executive. He has both a BA and MA in Accounting from Oklahoma State University, and has held positions with Arthur Anderson & Co. and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He later moved to Nashville to indulge his love of songwriting and music; ending up in the dual role of publishing company staff writer and accounting professor. During that time he wrote Alabama’s ‘Love in the First Degree’, Jerry Reed’s ‘She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft,’ and Vince Gill’s ‘When I Call Your Name’.

And we have one writer on the list…

John Grisham, author of The Firm, The Runaway Jury, and The Client, also has a degree in accounting from Mississippi State University. He was on course to become a tax lawyer, but decided to study criminal law instead. The latter has given us plenty of reading materials and blockbusters – who knows what we might have read if he became a tax lawyer!

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  • CA Student blog

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