Quiet Guys Can Do Great Things, Too: A Black Accountant’s Success Story

BY DIANA R ROBINSON

by Frank K. Ross, CPA, MBA
Writing Our World Press, 2006, 189 pp.

It is difficult to remain the “quiet guy” when so many are singing your praises. Thus it became important for Frank K. Ross to write his autobiography. He provides a novel perspective as a West Indian immigrant who moved, as a 7-year-old, from St. Kitts to New York in 1951. His life paralleled the evolution of racial attitudes in American society and later in the narrower purview of the accounting profession, long identified as the domain of white men. Ross skillfully interweaves the societal changes of the period from 1951 through the present with his own life experiences and challenges he faced in his quest to move through the ranks.

As the first African American partner at Peat Marwick (now KPMG), Ross readily acknowledges that white men of power held open the doors to opportunity for him while other powerful white men tried to close those same doors. Yet, he exhibits little anger and virtually no bitterness in his story. Instead he channels his energies into making numerous significant contributions to the accounting profession, a major one as co-founder of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) in 1969.

Ross is “convinced that the most important ingredient in achieving success is a strong value system…instilled early in life.” His simple guidelines to a successful life include:

Prepare for tomorrow, not for today.

Develop a strong work ethic.

Believe you can overcome all obstacles.

Remember that no one achieves success alone.

Hold to your core values and the knowledge that you are not here alone.

Cherish the moment!

Students, professionals and individuals from all walks of life will enjoy and benefit from reading the book. By candidly telling his life story, Ross artfully illustrates the evolution of the accounting profession as one that listens to him as an authority. As the “quiet guy,” initially he might have been viewed by some in the profession as one who had little to contribute. That is no longer the case.

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