Alumnus Patrick Lytle has always loved accounting, even since high school. “I took an accounting class in high school and really enjoyed it. The teacher was great, made it interesting, and I found myself working ahead in the book because I liked it so much,” he said.
Pat received his undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Kansas. After graduation, he moved back to Denver and got a full-time position at Deloitte as a public accountant. At that time in Colorado, he knew you didn’t need 150 hours to sit for the CPA exam as required by Kansas and Missouri. So, with that in mind, he took the CPA exam in Colorado and passed the first time.
Eventually, he moved to a smaller accounting firm called Hiratsuka and Schmitt. From there, Patrick went to work at SM Energy, where he still works today 11 years later.
The Journey to CU Denver
While in public accounting, Pat would need 150 hours in order to sign audit opinions for his clients in Arizona and California due to the CPA license reciprocity rules at that time. Initially, Pat came back to school to get the additional hours. However, “I only needed three extra classes to get my masters. I had a desire to teach someday, so I thought it’s a great time in my life to go back to school.” He knew it was a great program based upon his experience in the industry, and it was a ten-minute walk from his work–which was a plus.
“I only needed three extra classes to get my masters. I had a desire to teach someday, so I thought it’s a great time in my life to go back to school.” – Patrick Lytle
Pat is a very active member in the Denver community, as well as an active member at the Business School. He is involved in a program called Junior Achievement, which teaches children in elementary school the importance of entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness. Pat explained, “I absolutely love it because those are a lot of the skills that students really need that is not part of their regular curriculum.”
Along with Junior Achievement, Pat is very involved at the Business School. He has guest lectured for accounting professor, Dr. Colbert, as well as spoken to students in the accounting club, Beta Alpha Psi. He was even on the CU Denver Accounting Advisory Council. Pat said, “I have a love for learning. I want to give back in that way and be able to share my experience with others in hopes that it helps them in their career.”
Pat appreciates the professors here because of their ability to share their real-world experience and apply it to concepts learned in class. He explained, “I knew that some of my professors had worked in industry, so I was able to hear real-life examples of what they were teaching and how it applied to the business world and how I could take that and apply it in a similar way.”
“I knew that some of my professors had worked in industry, so I was able to hear real-life examples of what they were teaching and how it applied to the business world and how I could take that and apply it in a similar way.” – Patrick Lytle
As part of the Accounting Advisory Council, he focuses on getting professionals on campus from a variety of different accounting backgrounds. He wants to show students that the options are limitless. He stated, “Another initiative (of the council) is getting more students placed in internships with companies around the city.” Pat enjoys connecting to local businesses around Denver to showcase the potential of students. He also likes to discuss the benefits of hiring students as interns.
He appreciates how unique students are at the Business School. “They have a lot more life experience it seems. A lot of them are working individuals and they are either making a career change or getting a second degree or an advanced degree like I did,” he said.
In case he wasn’t busy enough, he’s also involved with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Colorado Society of CPAs (COCPA). At the AICPA, he connects with students as part of the Student Recruitment Committee and speaks with them about the career options available to those with a CPA license. At the COCPA, he is on the Educational Foundation Board of Trustees where the Board is focused on providing scholarship assistance and mentorship to Colorado students pursuing their accounting degrees at Colorado colleges and universities.
Meaningful advice for future CU Denver CPAs
As a certified public accountant, Pat highly encourages students to sit for the CPA exam early on. He speaks from personal experience on the benefits a CPA license can provide. Moreover, his advice to current students is, “I definitely think it’s important to get an internship or try to get some experience, even multiple experiences. If you have two different types of internships, you have something you can compare.”
“I definitely think it’s important to get an internship or try to get some experience, even multiple experiences. If you have two different types of internships, you have something you can compare.” – Patrick Lytle
It is never too early to kick start your career. His key takeaway for students is to take the time to think about their future-even if it seems too early. He believes that it’s important for students to leverage their options regarding career paths ahead of time. This way they don’t go to their first day of work asking themselves “Is this really what I want to be doing?” With more experience under their belts, they’ll not only be comfortable on the path they’ve chosen but excel on it.