A Curiosity-Driven Career

PROVO, Utah – Jan 24, 2019 – BYU Marriott School of Business students often graduate with a desire to change the world, but this dream isn’t always realized on the first job out the door. Making a difference takes time, but BYU Marriott Accounting alumna Charmaine White can attest that it’s possible—and worth the wait. 

White knew she wanted to study accounting after taking a bookkeeping class while attending high school in Montana, and she has never wavered from that career path. After graduating from BYU Marriott in 1980, her first job was as an accounting clerk for a food and beverage distributor. The position wasn’t her first choice, but her humble beginnings there inspired a praiseworthy work ethic, which she has kept throughout her career.

“My professors told me I was going to go out and change the world,” White remembers. “But instead I was sitting in a tiny office above a warehouse, smelling forklift fumes and reading piles and piles of reports.” She remembers thinking, “What in the world am I doing? This is not what my professors told me I was going to do.” 

White surely isn’t the only college graduate to have had this thought, but she made the best of her situation by taking initiative and telling her boss she could do more. White was always curious and learned as much as she could about the company she worked for. Evaluating and troubleshooting IT and delivery systems may not sound like jobs for an accountant, but White did them anyway and she did them well. 

“I probably drove my boss nuts,” She says. “But I worked my way up, and I feel good about my career.” White is now working in strategic payroll leadership at Intermountain Healthcare, where she has been for the last 27 years. Working with systems and people are two of her favorite things and there she gets to do both. 

White’s confidence in her abilities helped her be patient while she climbed up the ranks. When she entered BYU Marriott’s School of Accountancy in 1976, there were hardly any women in the program. White worked hard to prove herself, and to this day, she is grateful for her wonderful classmates who helped her succeed. “I knew I was good at accounting, but I had to be stubborn. I had to figure out how to do more and be more.” The confidence she earned at BYU helped her gain responsibility and credibility at the companies she has worked for over the years. 

White’s life has been guided by her curious nature and desire to learn. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints independently of her family while still in high school. Deciding to attend a school she’d never heard of wasn’t typical, but White felt led to BYU. Branching out seems to be second nature to White; she has set foot on every continent because of her love for travel, and she has plans to visit even more locations.

Studying at BYU Marriott helped White prepare for her career because it forced her to work hard. “The program has high standards, and I think that is strategic, because those who want to stay in the program will work hard enough to stay,” White says. “My experience at BYU Marriott had a positive outcome because I learned to have a personal standard of excellence, which has stayed with me throughout my life.”

White stands next to a Koala bear while on a trip to Australia
White stands next to a Koala bear while on a trip to Australia

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Katie Harris