From the beginning Sullivan seemed destined for DePaul. In high school, Sullivan attended and graduated from the DePaul Academy when it was practically in the backyard of the current DePaul Lincoln Park Campus. But Sullivan didn’t begin his academic life there as a numbers man – he was a pianist. He admits that while he wasn’t great at the piano, he always tried his best. To improve his skills, he commuted to DePaul’s School of Music to take lessons and perform in their recitals for four years.
While Sullivan was not destined to play at Radio City Music Hall, he did show an interest in another field. His niece and uncle were both accountants. Intrigued by the business lifestyle, he decided to go to DePaul University to study accounting.
“There were some really terrific teachers,” recalls Sullivan. “I came away with a wealth of knowledge.”
In college, Sullivan pledged Delta Sigma Pi (Alpha Omega chapter), a professional business fraternity. In his junior and senior years at DePaul, Sullivan served as the president of the fraternity.
“It was more than just a professional fraternity,” says Sullivan. “We were also a social organization and we had a lot of fun. But, there was brotherhood, professionalism and a strong leadership which helped us get through our time at DePaul.”
Sullivan credits his involvement with his fraternity, his intense studying and a clear idea of where he wanted to work for his start in the accounting industry. Out of school, Sullivan was hired at Coopers & Lybrand (now a part of PwC). He began as staff auditor, and in 1970 became a partner. He audited many large companies including Wilson Sporting Goods, SC Johnson, Barber Greene Asphalt and many more companies headquartered throughout the Midwest. He also specialist in auditing banks, colleges, and universities such as University of Illinois, University of Kentucky and BMO Harris.
“To get far in this career, you have to be very good at your job,” says Sullivan. “You have to be honest and ethical in everything you do. It’s hard work, but it can be a rewarding career.”
Today, as the School of Accountancy’ Class of 2015 joins the real world of accounting, Larry reflects on the timeless advice that steered him toward a shining career path. He recommends that all students familiarize themselves with the top four accounting firms. Students need to know what kind of corporation they would like to work for and if possible, he feels that students should always complete an internship with their desired company.
Sullivan is particularly passionate about advising students to join professional groups and alumni organizations. As president of the Delta Sigma Pi Fraternity, as well as the president of Ledger & Quill from 1980-1982, he understands the importance of aligning with professional organizations to open doors to new opportunities through networking, scholarships and even just to socializing with likeminded individuals.
Sullivan imparts one final piece of advice for the graduating class: Study hard and take the CPA as soon as you graduate so you can get it out of the way.