Aaron Risden

Chief Administrative Officer
Vision Benefits of America
(MAcc '11, BSBA '03)

What responsibilities does your job entail?

Every day is different. I am responsible for financial reporting, cash management, customer billing, vendor management, tax compliance, and lender management. I work with a team of finance and accounting staff to complete day-to-day tasks in that functional area, and I also collaborate with our IT and sales departments to improve internal processes.

Describe an accomplishment that you are particularly proud of at BBL?

I led an overhaul of our billing and accounts receivable management function. I have been leading a team to improve the functionality of our internally developed software systems, increase the efficiency of the accounting and customer service departments, as well as provide more consistent information to our customers.

What qualities do recruiters see in graduates of the Katz MAcc program?

If they have just finished an undergraduate degree, the MAcc program is a great opportunity to challenge themselves with advanced courses and develop higher-level skills. As someone who has participated in recruiting and hiring at a regional accounting firm, entry-level candidates with a master's degree were highly desirable recruits. And if the prospective student has work experience in accounting, the MAcc program is a highly customizable opportunity to expand your capabilities beyond what is learned on the job. 

What is one specific skill you learned in the Katz MAcc program that helps you today?

I gained a thorough understanding of derivatives, which is something I use often. My company uses interest rate swaps to manage interest rate risk. Courses at Katz helped me to understand the functionality of derivatives beyond just the basic concepts. This helps me to make better-informed decisions and communicate with our bankers in their own terminology.

What options does an accounting graduate have in Pittsburgh?

I have stayed in Pittsburgh because it has lots of amenities that are often found in larger cities, like sports and cultural attractions, but with smaller city accessibility and a lower cost. There are lots of great accounting firms and companies of all sizes in Pittsburgh and I have really enjoyed the variety of small and large businesses that I had the opportunity to work with in my former job in public accounting. A new graduate will have many options here.