There were thousands of dollars, thousands of miles, and thousands of reasons to give up on the pursuit of her dream, but the moment she took that first step out of her parents’ door, Grensy Quintero, CPA, knew that she had gone too far to ever turn back.
International Tax Senior
There were thousands of dollars, thousands of miles, and thousands of reasons to give up on the pursuit of her dream, but the moment she took that first step out of her parents’ door, Grensy Quintero, CPA, knew that she had gone too far to ever turn back. At 19 years old, the Havana, Cuba, native set out on an adventure toward a foreign land, overcoming nearly insurmountable odds. Along the way, Grensy challenged economic, social and cultural constraints, all with one goal in mind: To live a better life, no matter what ‘they’ say.
Today, as a tax senior with the International Tax Group at EY, Grensy provides assistance to overseas organizations seeking to bring their business operations to the United States; helping clients develop optimized tax strategies.
But the road to EY (and her CPA) was anything but easy for Grensy; in fact, were she faint of heart, she probably wouldn’t have made it. Wanting an education, independence and a good job, Grensy set her sights on receiving an education in the United States and becoming an accountant. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do what I wanted in my country,” she says. “I wanted to take care of myself and be independent.”
Grensy’s journey to the United States was a bit, well, unorthodox. She first traveled to Italy, where she was briefly homeless, then to Spain, next to Mexico, and finally to Miami — arriving in Florida knowing very little English.
Undeterred, she learned to speak an entirely new language while taking accounting courses at the University of Florida. Grensy’s resolve landed her much-deserved recognition, including an AICPA Minority Scholarship. And she performed so well in her classes that she was invited to be a teaching assistant, helping instruct MBA level accounting students.
Her drive carried over to becoming a licensed CPA, something she knew she needed to be considered credible in her field. “You want those letters close to your name,” she says. Grensy passed all four sections of the exam on her first try, despite the fact that she had only been speaking English for a couple of years at the time.
Offering some words of wisdom, Grensy says non-native English speakers should remember that “the exam only requires that you take the time to study and do your homework. You will always struggle with the language, but you have to believe in yourself and be willing to work even harder than exam candidates that are native English speakers. … If you believe that you want to be a CPA, you can do it.” After all, accounting is the language of business, and clearly that language is universal.
Still, the doors to doing business in a global arena certainly don’t open themselves. “The interview is key,” Grensy says, highlighting just how critical it is to be well prepared, confident, and knowledgeable about the company with whom you’re interviewing. “Sometimes, I see how good candidates fail to secure a position because they lack certain interview skills.” Grensy made sure that she wasn’t one of the many well qualified candidates who experience such a fate, but she wasn’t alone. She credits her college mentor (Gioia M. Pisano, EY’s Americas Inclusiveness Recruiting Leader) with helping her prepare for interviews and get started in her career.
Undoubtedly, mentors often play a very important role when it comes to finding jobs and having access to career advancement opportunities, however, once you get in the door, the rest is up to you. Grensy stresses the importance of being self-motivated, “It can be a lot of hard work, but I love it because all of the hard work pays off.” And now, she pays it forward by helping coach and encourage new CPAs and CPA-hopefuls that she personally believes in. “I’m tough with them, but it’s because I care,” she says. “I’m busy, so I want to invest my time in people who are motivated.”
For Grensy, providing valuable service to her clients runs much deeper than just a day job. As far as she is concerned, her most important clients are the members of her community, which is why she has always maintained a sharp focus on doing her part and giving back. From the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, she invests countless hours sharing valuable insight and expertise. A true team player, Grensy is a luminous example of the exceedingly bright future of the accounting profession.
Speaking of the future, Grensy says, “I’d like to make partner, but I keep saying to myself, ‘Take it one step at a time.’”
7am: Go for a run
I run around downtown Miami and Brickell Key wearing big Dr. Dre beats headphones. Who says accountants are not cool?
8am: Walk to the office
I usually pass by Starbucks and pick up coffee on my way to EY. I am very fortunate to live only three blocks away from the office.
9am: Check calendar and prepare to do list
I always check my work calendar first thing in the morning and write down on my note pad any conference calls or meetings I have that day (it helps me remember if I write it down). Then, since I am old school, I prepare a hand written list of all the tasks I want to accomplish in the day.
10am: Work and attend meetings/conference calls
A lot of my day is spent preparing PowerPoint presentations and technical tax memorandums, as well as doing any administrative internal tasks necessary like attending meetings with team members, and participating in conference calls to discuss clients’ tax matters.
12pm: Lunch with coworkers
My peers are very into going to lunch together and sharing funny stories. Usually by 11:45, some of them are already discussing lunch places around downtown and organizing the whole group. Stepping out for an hour and enjoying time with coworkers in a more informal setting is always refreshing.
1pm: Back to my tasks
More conference calls and meetings in the afternoon. I always have a notepad!
4pm: Coffee break
In the E&Y Miami office, we are very fortunate to have Starbucks in the lobby of the building.
5pm: Provide status of my work to team members
I usually communicate back to my team members the status of the projects I am working on and if there is anything else I need to accomplish that day.
6pm: Wrap up my day
7pm: Head home to make dinner
9pm: Watch a reality TV show or do some reading