Mihaylo alumna Neda Ghafourian ’14 works as a content accountant at Netflix. After graduating from Mihaylo College with a double concentration in accounting and finance, she has spent the past few years working in Los Angeles.
We caught up with Ghafourian and discussed her current role at Netflix, her previous job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and her advice for students hoping to land their dream job.
Does she look familiar? Back in her college days, Ghafourian was heavily involved in the Mihaylo community and was a friendly face around the building. She was a Business Honors student, an executive board member of the Business Inter-Club Council and a staff member at the Mihaylo Tutoring Center.
Post-Grad: Working at PwC
Immediately after graduation, Ghafourian worked as an auditor at the Big Four accounting firm, PwC. She admits that, between learning the nuances of her first job out of college and developing new skills to work with clients, it was intense.
“Once I graduated, it was as if I had just enrolled into a new major called REALITY. Client interactions were a first for me, and there is no class or book that can prepare you for this, so it was an interesting learning curve to overcome. Deadlines were more than just ‘suggestions’ and affected your entire team, not just you,” says Ghafourian.
She is grateful for the time she spent at PwC. “It was challenging, to say the least, but one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far in my adult life,” she says. Then, another opportunity came knocking.
“Netflix + Neda”: A Match Made in LinkedIn Heaven
Though she enjoyed the teams she worked with at PwC, in spring 2017 Ghafourian felt like it was time to broaden her horizons.
“I applied to a few different jobs, one of them being a production accountant position at Spotify,” says Ghafourian. She had her heart set on Spotify, since it is one of her favorite music applications, and did everything she could think of to land an interview. “For example, I sent an InMail to their head of recruiting over LinkedIn with something clever like ‘add my résumé to your queue …’ as the subject line.” But unfortunately, she did not hear back right away. “They did respond a few months later with a polite rejection – without realizing it, I had applied for a position a bit out of my league at the time. Production accountants are the equivalent to a CFO on particular productions. Easy to say that I was not quite there yet!” Other opportunities came by but did not pique Ghafourian’s interest as much, so she took a break from the search.
“Luckily,” she says, “I had forgotten to turn off the ‘let recruiters know I’m looking’ signal on LinkedIn. A recruiter reached out to me with the subject line ‘Netflix + Neda’ – my face immediately turned into the heart-eyes emoji!”
The recruiter sent over the Netflix culture deck and job description, and after reading them, Ghafourian quickly fell in love with the company. “Two screening calls and eight on-site interviews later, I fortunately landed the job after what I have to say was the most extensive yet well thought out recruiting process.”
Working at Netflix: What’s a Content Accountant?
The areas of accounting that we hear most about in school are typically audit, tax and assurance, among many others. If you don’t know what a content accountant is, don’t worry. They know. On the application for the job, Netflix includes a deck explaining what content accounting is.
Thankfully, Ghafourian can also provide the inside scoop on what exactly a content accountant does at Netflix. “The majority of our work contributes to the largest financial statement line item on the company’s balance sheet, current content assets,” explains Ghafourian. “We build the asset with license/funding payments, and reduce the asset with a write-down if an impairment is identified for a particular title. That’s quite rare, but it is possible.”
The work that Ghafourian does now is quite different from what she used to do as an auditor at PwC. “The main difference is that I am now the accountant executing tasks – such as journal entries and releasing payments – rather than auditing the accountant’s work to determine the nature and accuracy of a journal entry or payment.”
“My day-to-day will differ if we’re in a month- or quarter-end close. During close, there are specific reviews and tasks that need to be executed such as review of amortization expense and capitalization of the month-in-review launches. But typically, my day will consist of reviewing new contracts (specific to the vertical I support, which is stand-up comedy), releasing payments and answering emails to business partners. I work with business affairs (legal), content planning and analysis, and production finance as well as the larger team when I am assisting or working on any particular accounting projects for them. That might include performing an analysis on the impact of applying or not applying capital overhead for a particular vertical, such as series, film, stand-up comedy, and more.”
Ghafourian’s Advice for Students
Ghafourian encourages students who are looking to land a job at their favorite company to stay driven and stay hungry. “Step out of your comfort zone to reach new heights,” she says. “This may be applying for a job that is ‘out of your league’ or building up the courage to network with top executives at career fairs or panel discussions.”
She adds, “Keep in mind that your ‘dream job’ may not look like what you have imagined. Don’t allow your fixation on a one-way approach keep you in a narrow tunnel. Be sure to adjust your vision as new experiences and opportunities present themselves. Take my Spotify scenario; as much as I would have loved to work at Spotify, the universe redirected me to a company that is just as exciting but more of a cultural fit.”
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