Recalling her career of achievements and offering inspiring industry advice, Cathy Works Helmbrecht ’85, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently visited with Mays Business Honors students as part of the Mays 2017 Transformational Leader Speaker Series. Helmbrecht received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University and has affiliations with the Aggie Real Estate Network, Texas A&M Greek Former Student’s Network, and the Women Former Student’s Network.

Helmbrecht started with PwC right after her graduation from Texas A&M and has been with them since, serving in various roles throughout her career. She realized pretty quickly into her first job that she was using skills from all of her classes, not just what she learned specifically from her major. She told the students, “the skills you learn as a business major branch across degrees. You won’t just stick to one thing, like accounting.”

She shared her personal struggles in finding a work/family balance and dealing with feelings of burning out on certain things. One student asked whether Helmbrecht had experienced critics in being a woman in her role. She explained the pressure she experienced in the industry stemmed mostly from herself. The toughest time of her career was when she had kids. She experienced an internal struggle of wanting to continue her success in her career, but also knowing she needed to step back to be a good mother to her children. “You don’t always have to be the top at what you’re doing,” she said. “You need to be satisfied, and doing well for the sake of your kids and family. You have to take things one step at a time and truly find that balance.”

Helmbrecht went further into detail about the key things that have brought her success in life and in her career:

  • Communication is key in all aspects of your career
  • Learn how to keep people around you motivated
  • Keep an organized schedule
  • Have a strong team/support network behind you
  • Take vacation time when you have the opportunity

Business Honors major Taylor Wiest ’19 said Helmbrecht’s talk encouraged her “to find my own support network and not be afraid to rely on others when the time calls for it.”

When the conversation turned to internships and entry-level positions, Helbrecht advised the students to “intern somewhere that you would want to eventually work, as those companies are investing in you as a potential hire.” She also urged the students to “explore a lot of opportunities out there, ask a lot of questions, and understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Have a roadmap for the big picture and a purpose of what you are doing.”

Helmbrecht’s story was an inspiring one, and clearly had an impact on the students attending. Business Honors major Bridget Davies ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “encouraged me to try new things and continue to challenge myself so that I am always learning.” Business Honors major Asad Engineer ’20 said Helmbrecht’s story “inspired me to find a company that I can trust and stay with.”