All in the Family

PROVO, Utah – May 16, 2018 – School of Accountancy alumna Laura Warner Torgesen didn’t even know she was voted Accounting Student of the Year until she showed up for graduation in 1989. The award was a high honor for Torgesen, especially when she realized the nomination originated from her esteemed professors.

But her BYU success shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: not only is her father a BYU Marriott grad, but she also calls BYU pioneer Karl G. Maeser great-great-grandpa. “I was proud of him,” Torgesen says of her famous relative. “I always looked to his example when I’d get into hard times.”

Maeser’s heritage made Torgesen want to come to BYU, but it was her father’s example that helped her realize the possibilities an accounting degree offered. It only took one accounting class before she was hooked. “I knew after that first year that that’s what I wanted to do, and I just aimed toward it,” she says.

Torgesen started working toward a MAcc degree, but soon after she began, she accepted the call to serve an LDS mission in Atlanta, Georgia. When she returned, she and another woman were the only newly returned missionaries in the program.

“It was kind of intimidating coming back because I’d been away for a year and a half,” Torgesen says. “But the professors were so amazing. They took us under their wings and helped us get back into it. After that first semester, I felt totally good again.”

Torgesen’s first job was with KPMG in Orange County, California. She has since worked as tax director at WestCorp Financial and Insurance Services and is now senior manager of the California firm Milam, Knecht, and Warner LLP, where she’s been for seventeen years.

She credits her success to experience gleaned at the Marriott School. “The accounting program here prepared me to get really great offers from different people, to get promoted, and to get all the jobs that I’ve had. It has made it so that my career has been perfect for what I needed it to be,” Torgesen says.

Unique to Torgesen’s career is the flexibility she’s had to manage time at work and time with her children. In coordination with her company and aided by paperless technology, she’s been able to alternate in-office and at-home work hours. “It’s so great to see that you can choose whatever path you want to take and still be really successful,” she says. “The industry is seeing that it can really work.”

Torgesen hopes that others seeking careers in accounting will strive for the goals that matter most to them. “It’s just like piano or anything else,” she says. “You have to put the time and practice in. If you’re willing to do the hard work up front, it will pay you really big dividends for the rest of your life.”

Laura and her husband, David, have five children and live in Stevenson Ranch, California.

The Torgesen family

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Kasee Bailey