Molly Montgomery ’02 says she found her professional path thanks to Radford University's professors.
She began her accounting career in Washington, D.C. as an auditor for international nonprofit agencies. She currently helps entrepreneurs realize their dreams through her firm Ascension Consulting. “They are all trying to add some value to the world by creating, growing, and building a business. I help people who have their heart in it, but don’t have the accounting or tax expertise that is needed for a business to thrive.”
When Montgomery began her college career at Radford University, she at first wanted to become a nurse. Then the biology and chemistry courses didn’t resonate with her. She decided to return home to Northern Virginia, take a semester off and self assess. “I failed out my freshman year. But once I came back to Radford and started down the right path for me, all the professors along the way saw something in me that I wouldn’t have seen without them pulling it out of me. They are an incredible group of people,” says Montgomery. When she returned to Radford, she was ready to delve into business. “I tried all of the business options and accounting really stuck with me. My professor Bruce Chase pulled me aside after class one day and said that I should think about majoring in accounting. Since then, I made Dean’s List every semester,” she says.
Finding her “sweet spot” made a difference in her college career. “It felt good to be good at something. I enjoyed other people coming to me for help. When you find something you are good at, it lifts you up.” She credits her professors for helping her find her place. “I don’t think I would have recognized my strengths or possibilities without the kind of connection professors intentionally made with students,” she says. Upon graduation, Montgomery was hired by Gelman, Rosenbert & Freedman. “This first job opened up a whole world of what it meant to be a professional.” She traveled internationally to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany and Azerbaijan conducting field audits. During this time, she was learning about how businesses operate, understanding business models and learning about different ways companies earn revenue. She wanted to use these skills and experiences to do something different. She then worked for Ernst & Young in Las Vegas auditing casinos and large health care facilities. “I really enjoyed this part of the profession and saw the value the profession added to business and industry.”
Knowing she didn’t want to stay in Vegas forever, she moved to Phoenix to be a sole practitioner and earn her graduate degree in taxation. Then she found her fit as a consultant and advisor at Grant Thornton, LLP in Phoenix. She helped corporations look at viability of acquisitions and mergers. She also did some forensic and litigation work in international investigations. “This was all after-the-fact advisory work. It was usually too late to fix issues that could have been resolved sooner. I realized that I wanted to make a contribution to business and help companies earlier on. That's where I saw I could truly add value."
“I like networking and ended up building a strong network of successful people. There are some important people in my life that I've met along the way who helped me realize the value that I can add to this world. With my 12 years of expertise, I decided to take the career capital and create my own company. I haven’t looked back.” She began Ascension Consulting in January. “This company has brought out a whole side of me dying to come out. I find companies aiming big with ambitious goals. I know how to help them reach their goals. I work with visionaries and entrepreneurs and help them piece together their dreams,” says Montgomery.
Montgomery says if she had one piece of advice for current Radford University students it would be to not just think about the knowledge they are gaining in college, but look at how to use that knowledge toward something greater. “Your college career and degree is a stepping stone into the rest of your life. Your life is not and will not be decided when you walk out of Radford. It’s a step in the journey. Always be looking for ways to use your knowledge to add value to other people's lives and you will be successful in whatever you choose to do.”