Ruth Bartlett’s college class will soon be celebrating its 35th anniversary. But the Atlanta native is such a fixture at UGA and Terry that it seems like she never left town.
Now a partner at the Atlanta-based accounting firm Frazier & Deeter, Bartlett (BBA ’76) stays in close contact with Terry in a number of ways. She recruits newly minted B-school grads for her firm. She has been serving on Terry’s Alumni Board for nearly a decade, she was board president in 2005, and she has been heavily involved in several capital fundraising committees for the college. Bartlett also offers her energetic assistance to the executive committee of the UGA Alumni Association.
“I got involved with the Terry College Alumni Board about nine years ago,” says Bartlett. “I received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Terry in 1997. It was probably around the late 1990s that I got actively involved.”
Bartlett, whose sisters, Linda Bartlett Marett (BBA ’73) and Terri Bartlett Vann (BBA ’79) also earned accounting degrees from Terry, has been a pioneer in her profession. She was the first female president of the Georgia Society of CPAs, and she recently became the first woman to receive the society’s prestigious Meritorious Service Award. She was also the first female partner at Frazier & Deeter.
Bartlett joined PriceWaterhouse in 1976 at a time when women weren’t populating the accounting profession in great numbers. She remembers that of the 30 recent college graduates hired by the firm’s Atlanta office in ’76, only three were women.
“It was a male-dominated world,” she recalls, “but if you fast forward to today, nearly 50 percent of Terry’s MAcc graduates are women. On average, my firm hires 50 percent women and 50 percent men. The landscape has really changed. I do feel that I’m a trailblazer. I had to learn to fit in like one of the boys, but also to differentiate myself in a man’s world while staying true to myself and finding the right balance between my career and my personal life.”
When asked about her assessment of the Terry College students she meets and recruits every year during her on-campus visits, Bartlett uses the word ”excellent” and “dedicated.”
“The students seem more polished than I was 30 years ago,” she says. “It’s like a whole different place. Graduates are so determined . . . a really good crop every year. My firm recruits accounting students from UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Auburn. Yes, I’m biased, but our Georgia grads do well here at Frazier & Deeter. They are just really smart folks.”
When asked about the effect of the economy on her practice, Bartlett says she keeps one edict in mind.
“You always put your clients first and you think about what they’re going through in tough economic times. Even if you have to sacrifice short-term growth or profitability, if you can put the client first and try to keep their fees the same — or reduce them, even if you have to spend more time with them — that will benefit you later.
Early in her career, Bartlett was urged by a senior manager at PriceWaterhouse to give something back to her profession, and she’s utilized that same philosophy when it comes to the Terry College and UGA.
“Because of the great education we received, which presented us with great job opportunities, we do owe a portion back for what made us successful,” she says. “The state is supporting schools less and less each year, which makes it all the more important for those of us who received good educations and job leads to funnel some portion back. Schools have better development programs and staff, the money is spent wisely, and it shows in the students coming out each year. It’s a great investment.”