Name: Sean T. Blackwell, CPA MST
Title: Senior Tax Manager
Company: EisnerAmper LLP
Q: How did you decide to become a tax manager and what aspects do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Becoming a tax manager has been an evolution. I studied accounting in undergrad and knew I wanted to start my career in public accounting but beyond that had too many professional interests to focus my career at the start. After working for a public accounting firm for six years doing assurance, tax and consulting work I decided to focus on tax. Of all the things I was doing at the time, I enjoyed tax consulting the most and saw a real opportunity to be a value-add to my clients. I primarily enjoy the variety that comes with my job. No two days are alike and the tax code is constantly changing. I work with clients in many different industries and also work with many different types of entities which keeps things fresh. In addition, I enjoy that practicing tax consulting combines aspects of law, accounting, economics, politics and psychology.
Q: What are your favorite things to do in Philadelphia after April 15 when tax season comes to an end?
A: After spending a lot of nights and weekends in the office over of the course of the last few months it’s nice to be able to get outdoors and enjoy the city. I really like to try all the new restaurants and bars that seem to be emerging everywhere. I also enjoy taking in a baseball game at CBP or playing rec-league softball.
Q. How did you first learn about YPN, and what was the deciding factor in becoming a member?
A: I first learned about YPN through a colleague over two years ago and I think I joined almost immediately. I was impressed with the quality of the speakers and venues for the networking events but more so, I really like the idea of being able interact with what will ultimately be the future business leaders of this city. I also think it’s important to give back to the community and having the volunteer events provides a great avenue for that.
Q: How has YPN affected you as a professional?
A: We may represent the companies that we work for but I believe it’s important that we each develop our own professional identity. For me, part of establishing myself as a professional is relationship building and I think YPN provides a great venue for meeting new people and building on existing relationships. To be an effective resource for my clients I have to be able to connect them to other trusted professionals when the project is out of my field of expertise. YPN has helped me to build my network of contacts, improve my own abilities as a professional and thereby make me a better resource for my clients. I’ve met some really great people through YPN which have led to some unexpected opportunities, including the chance to be on the board of a nonprofit.
Q. Do you have a professional mentor? If so, tell us how having one benefits you.
A: I believe that having a mentor over the course of one’s career is extremely important and I’ve been fortunate to have a few during my career. One of the first things I realized after graduating undergrad was how little I really knew about the business world or all the skillsets that I would need to be a talented and well-rounded professional. Mentors are great because they offer an opportunity to foster a deeper relationship with someone who genuinely cares about your development and success. Mentors can provide you with the benefit of their own experience to teach you, guide your though career milestones, or act as a sounding board.
Q. What are your favorite hobbies outside of YPN?
A: I love to travel – domestically and internationally. Before moving to Philadelphia I spent five weeks backpacking though western Europe and really caught the travel bug. I’ve since been to Ireland and Japan and am in the early stages of planning another big trip. I also fly gliders. Flying has always been a passion of mine and I’ve been doing so off-and-on since high school.
Q. YPN’s professional development committee is building a “PD bookshelf.” Are there any particular books you would recommend?
A: Anyone who manages people needs to understand what drives and motivates them. I’ve always been fascinated by why people do what they do and so I recently read “The Social Animal” by David Brooks. It’s a nonfiction book which tells the story of two fictional characters as they progress through life. It offers various commentary throughout the book on the motivations of the characters which ultimately summarizes a lot of the latest sociological and psychological research. It’s not a book that was written for the purposes of professional development but provides some interesting insight into the human mindset that could prove valuable in the business setting.