Brothers in business
Sibling alumni parlay their accounting degrees into success.
Brothers Bob and Tom Morrison mean business when it comes to success.
If you’d known them as kids, you wouldn’t be surprised. Growing up in Denver, they learned about hard work.
“Our neighbor managed an ice-cream store at Stapleton Airport,” recalls Bob, who graduated from MSU Denver in 1991 with a degree in accounting. “We’d take the bus from Wash Park out there and work long hours. Our parents never bought us cars, never paid for clothes when we were teenagers or gave us money to go out with our friends. Those items were up to us.”
Tom agrees. The 1993 accounting graduate says, “Our parents set great examples for us as far as responsibility, integrity, honesty, education and hard work.”
“Next to love and affection,” Bob adds, “the greatest gift they gave all of us was how to be financially independent.”
Today, the Morrison brothers stand at the peak of their professions. Bob has held senior positions at internationally recognized companies such as Deloitte & Touche, JD Edwards and USAA. He’s now president at Downing Street Wealth Management LLC, where he manages over $50 million in client assets.
Tom also worked at Deloitte & Touche, along with Ernst & Young, and served as a tax director for a large public company. Today, he’s vice president of tax at National Cinemedia, the country’s largest cinema advertising network.
But aside from the lesson of hard work, how’d these two end up both studying accounting and succeeding in business?
As a child, Bob says, he was fascinated with commerce. “Even though I love numbers, I’m a people person first,” he says. “Business gives me a platform to marry those two skills.”
For Tom, it was all about figuring things out. “I think we both like to solve problems and help people,” he says.
Both say they fine-tuned their skills at MSU Denver because of professors who had street credibility with plenty of work experience.
“I learned accounting and tax from people who had practiced and had real-world experience and brought that into the classroom,” Bob says.
Tom says he loved the accounting faculty because “they combined real-world experience with academic rigor. My professional mentor, Al Richards, was a part-time tax instructor at MSU Denver and was also a practicing CPA.”
The Morrison brothers’ advice to students: “Do whatever you can to connect with alumni,” Tom says. “Make yourself known so you’ll stand out when someone is looking to hire. Also, be willing to give back to the community.”
“Pursue your dreams, and do not let failure derail your goals,” Bob says. “I’ve failed numerous times. It’s about what you learn from those experiences. I don’t view failure as a negative; I view it as an opportunity. If you pursue your passions, the money will follow.”