Aaron Swartz, EY’s new managing officer for Akron, eyes growth

Crain’s Cleveland (November 15, 2021) – Ernst & Young, a big accounting firm in Akron and the Northeast Ohio region, has a new top executive in the Rubber City.

Aaron Swartz, who until now was head of EY’s audit practice for the region, has been named the new managing partner for the office, effective Monday, Nov. 15, the firm announced.

Swartz already was working in the Akron office, though his efforts were spread out.

“I’ve been running our audit practice for a geography that includes Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Charleston, West Virginia,” Swartz said.

Swartz succeeds Whitt Butler, who held the managing partner position in Akron since 2018 and has moved into the role of EY US-Central Region Consulting Managing Partner, the firm said in announcing Swartz’s promotion.

The Akron office has just fewer than 80 staff members currently, Swartz said. That’s far fewer than the firm has in its birthplace of Cleveland, where EY has about 1,300 employees, but Swartz said he plans to grow the Akron office.

“We are actively recruiting new talent, both from campus and on an experienced-hire perspective,” Swartz said.

That’s true, he said, for all four segments of EY’s business: audit, tax, consulting and business strategy.

“We are looking for people in all four service lines,” Swartz said.

The firm has ample room for more employees in its 10,000 square feet of offices, which it took in Akron’s East End development in fall 2019.

That space can accommodate more workers than it might have a couple of years ago, as EY has adopted a flexible structure allowing its people to work from either the office or their home.

On top of that, remote work means that geography matters much less than it did just two years ago, so firms such as EY can hire professionals in one city even if they need them to work with a client in another part of the country.https://7d5b32fdba74b792aa68a9b876c93c63.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Akron fits into a global firm, and now that we have the capability of deploying our people not just based on geography, we’ll hire as many people as we can find,” Swartz said.

On top of all that, the current confusing environment around work, geography and taxes means that clients have more questions than ever, and there are more ways for accountants and consultants to help them. Meanwhile, normal business functions often are strained by the pandemic, and new businesses aimed at supporting new lifestyles and technologies keep emerging.

“Clients are facing issues they’ve never faced before, and we’re positioned to help them navigate through that. Our clients are learning how to handle remote work, and that has potential tax consequences,” Swartz said. “There are supply chain disruptions globally, and as our client base in Northeast Ohio evaluates it, certainly we have capabilities to help think through that. And then there are new industries emerging as leaders, which need help building their infrastructure. As you can imagine, the needs of consumers have changed quite a bit over the last two years.”

Swartz, a native of Alliance who has lived in the Akron area for more than 20 years, thinks the current business environment and EY’s new offices in town will help the firm grow.

EY’s East End offices are in one of Akron’s newest and glitziest developments, especially in terms of office space. The firm has worked hard to fill them with people, and their modern design already included features such as standup desks and flexible, shared workspaces that make them conducive to a post-pandemic work environment, Swartz said.

EY also worked closely with local artists, through Akron’s ArtsNow nonprofit, to fill its offices with artwork from Akron’s minority community meant to reflect the city’s diversity. Nicole Mullet, ArtsNow executive director, said the accounting giant embraced the opportunity to support and be part of the local arts community, and she thinks that will help the firm with employees.https://7d5b32fdba74b792aa68a9b876c93c63.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“This is an example of a company walking the walk when it comes to being intentional about supporting Black-owned businesses and artist entrepreneurs,” Mullet said in email correspondence. “But it is also a story about how companies can find their own success in these partnerships. EY has a thoughtfully and beautifully curated office space that will fuel creativity, inspire employees, and serve as a highlight for visitors; not walls covered in prints from a big box store you can find in thousands of other office spaces.”

Swartz agreed the new space is an asset when it comes to attracting talent — one he said he hopes to combine with current trends to his firm’s advantage in Akron.

“We are excited to continue to leverage the office,” Swartz said. “We moved in just under a year ago and the space is fantastic. It’s collaborative and gives our people the opportunity to work in a comfortable space. We’re also trying to take what we’ve learned over the past two years to be more flexible and make our workforce more hybrid. … I’m confident we’re going to come out of this stronger than we were before.”

by Dan Shingler with Crain’s Cleveland