Alumni Profiles

Global Risk Management Director Savors Role at Diageo

LaToya M. Lacey, CPA, CFE (BUS ’01)Name: LaToya M. Lacey, CPA, CFE (BUS ’01)
Residence: Stamford, Conn.

Occupation: Director of Global Audit & Risk at Diageo, a premium drinks business with brands that span spirits, beer and wine. In this role, I am responsible for conducting and leading advisory reviews and internal audits, including assessment of overall risk management activities. I also lead the anti-fraud agenda within the Global Audit & Risk group at Diageo.

Education: A family friend suggested I consider a degree in accounting since math was my favorite subject. I took an accounting course during my senior year at Morgan Park High School and enjoyed it. I decided to pursue my degree at DePaul because of its excellent accounting program and because I was really impressed with the school after attending the open house.

Vital stats: During my time at DePaul, I worked in the law school’s admissions office and held two internships at Arthur Andersen and one at Abbott Laboratories. After graduation, I accepted a position at Abbott in their Financial Professional Development Program and subsequently worked in their U.S. Customs Compliance group. I left Abbott to join the Internal Audit department at Altria and went to Kraft Foods as a result of the spinoff. At Kraft, I worked in internal audit, finance training and special investigations. I have an 18-year-old son who plans to obtain a pharmaceutical sciences degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What I like best about my job: Over the past two years, no two assignments have been the same. I really enjoy the constant changes and challenges, and the opportunities I have to change the way we work. I also enjoy traveling all over the world and working with people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

My DePaul experience: I was a full-time student, a student officer and mentor in STARS (Students Together Are Reaching Success, a DePaul support program for first-year students). I also worked part time while being a single mom, and I graduated with honors. My experience at DePaul taught me the importance of time management and that with determination and hard work, I can overcome any obstacle. That has helped me tremendously with various challenges
I have experienced both personally and professionally.

Lacey’s Advice for New Alumni

“Embrace and overcome challenges, rather than run from them, and learn from mistakes. These experiences will prepare you for a bright future.”

“Find what truly motivates you and pursue that in your career. This will allow you to have the energy to always give your best and drive for more.”

“Expand your horizons as much as possible. When you have the opportunity to work in another part of the world, learn about the economy, culture and history.”

“Balance is important, so don’t forget to have fun and enjoy time with those closest to you.”

A Double Demon Recognized For His Leadership in Accountancy

Joe Adams (BUS ’77, MBA ’79)Name: Joe Adams (BUS ’77, MBA ’79)

Residence: Carol Stream, Ill.

Occupation: Managing partner and CEO of McGladrey LLP, the fifth largest assurance, tax and consulting firm in the United States and the largest focused on middle market businesses and the entrepreneurs who run them. Accounting Today recognized Adams as one of its “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” in 2013.

Education: Adams attended St. Joseph’s High School in Westchester, Ill., before becoming a DePaul Double Demon. “My brother attended DePaul, and he was the primary influence on my choice to attend DePaul and to pursue an undergraduate degree in accounting. I also wanted to stay close to home to be able to work and earn the money to pay for my education.”

Vital stats: “I am fortunate to have spent my entire career at McGladrey, beginning as an entry-level auditor and advancing to partner in 1987. Since then, I have held a variety of leadership roles at McGladrey that have led to my current position.” Adams and Cheryl, his wife of 36 years, have five grown children and five grandchildren.

What I like best about my job: “I like the short- and long-term challenges that consume my day. Overseeing a complex business provides me with an opportunity to be involved in a variety of areas, from strategy and vision to financial and operational results. I also enjoy working closely with the outstanding people who work for McGladrey or are clients and friends of our great firm.”

The biggest challenge I face in my job: “Working to stay ahead of our competition and positioning our firm as uniquely better and the first-choice advisor to middle market leaders. This means constantly working to attract and develop diverse talent and providing them with a working environment that is second to none so they will, in turn, provide our clients with an experience that is second to none.”

My DePaul experience: “DePaul gave me a solid educational foundation not only in accounting and business, but also in nontechnical skills that have served me well throughout my career. The relationships I built at DePaul have aided me in my business and personal goals, and I am especially grateful to the DePaul career placement office for helping me get my job at McGladrey in the first place.”

Adams’s Advice For Young Alumni

“Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone or make a mistake; just be sure to learn from it.”

“Stay relevant. Learn something new every day, and impart your knowledge to and coach others.”

“Listen respectfully and challenge others about what can be better; then do your part to make it better.”

“Change is constant and accelerating—accept it and use it to your advantage.”

“The relationships you build at DePaul and the ones you build after you graduate can make all the difference. I had no idea where my career would take me, but with the help of some extraordinary mentors, I have been involved in some amazing things.”

Investing in Financial Literacy

Richard Smith (BUS ’77, MBA ’83)As a child growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1970s, Richard Smith (BUS ’77, MBA ’83) knew he wanted to be a “business man.” Yet, Smith struggled with variables and formulas, as well as with the stigma others placed upon him as the poor son of a cafeteria worker. He felt like he didn’t belong in the finance world.

Smith’s DePaul education helped him enter this world, and after 20 years of building his own investment firm, Smith created The Wall Street Program to help others follow in his footsteps. The free finance and investment education program teaches Chicago-area middle schoolers the ins and outs of finance and investing through virtual investment accounts set up on Yahoo! Finance.

Nearly 1,000 students have gone through the program. “I’m the type of person that if I learn something, I want to teach others,” says Smith. “I want the kids to know that despite having little knowledge of the finance world now, you can learn and make a good living in this area. I truly found that investing is a great way of building wealth and I want them to learn as much as possible.”

Forging Career Connections

Rob Pasquesi (MBA ’10) Rob Pasquesi (MBA ’10) began brainstorming a better way to foster professional relationships while he was studying entrepreneurship at DePaul. Now his idea of taking one’s online network offline has grown into, a free website that helps young professionals form connections online and suggests ways for them to meet face to face.

The site allows members to create a personal page based on their LinkedIn profiles or from scratch. Members get emails suggesting other professionals they might want to meet, and the site even recommends nearby restaurants or coffee shops that could serve as meeting places. The site, which launched in 2013, now has nearly 10,000 members in Chicago, Boston, Denver and Austin, Texas.

Pasquesi, who works as an audit senior manager at a top-six international accounting and tax firm, credits DePaul’s business professors with helping him refine the website concept and putting him in touch with students.

“When I started talking to college students and young professionals, they mentioned a need for receiving mentorships and understanding more about certain professions,” Pasquesi says. “A lot of current members saw the same problems when they were students four or five years ago and now want to offer their suggestions and help.”

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