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New Role, New Environment:
Alumnus Chronicles Career Switch to the Private Sector

Five years ago, Daniel Doheny made a career change, from a partner at KPMG to CFO of Reyes Holdings, a leading food and beverage distribution firm based in Rosemont, Illinois. The family-owned company, with more than 6,400 employees and facilities in the US, Canada, Brazil, and countries in Latin America, has given Doheny a new perspective on accounting as a career. Reyes Holdings is the largest beer distributor in the US and the largest distributor to the worldwide McDonald's Corporation restaurant system.

After his transition from public accounting to a private company, Doheny observed that he was still using his accounting and finance knowledge, analytical skills, and communication and leadership savvy. But he was shifting his focus from identifying problems -- at the heart of his partner work -- to implementing solutions with his team. And that's not the only change he observed. As a private firm, Reyes Holding has a somewhat different financial reporting focus: long-term enterprise growth versus quarterly earnings that meet or exceed market expectations. Related, the management incentives are performance awards, not stock options.

Another difference in the private world, said Doheny, is that, as a privately held company, Reyes is not required to follow certain regulations, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). The company, however, has implemented much of the spirit of SOX, particularly in the area of controls and accountability and the establishment of an ethics committee. Reyes has chosen not to establish a formal audit committee but, said Doheny, communications between owners and independent accountants has been strengthened.

Doheny detailed numerous sections of SOX and outlined Reyes Holdings' reaction to the requirement. For example, one section prohibits retaliation against informants. Reyes Holdings' response was to make modifications to the employee manual in addition to establishing the ethics committee.

A 1984 graduate of the accountancy program at Illinois, Doheny has been CFO at Reyes Holdings LLC, the 30th largest privately held company in the United States, since 2000.

He spoke as part of the Department of Accountancy spring Lyceum series.

--Ginny Hudak-David
April 2005