11 Dec Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1996 Scholar Matt Lausten
Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?
I have spent my career in forensic accounting and developed a specialty in data analytics. Since 2011, I have been a partner in a Denver forensic accounting firm called Betzer Call Lausten & Schwartz. Forensic accounting is at the intersection of accounting and law. We analyze accounting information through a particular lens, frequently in the context of litigation, though sometimes as part of a fraud investigation.
Since 2014, I have been an affiliate faculty member in Metro State’s accounting department, where I wrote and teach a graduate course titled “Data Analytics in a Fraud and Litigation Context.” I tell my students that data analytics is the process of turning data into information. My course is equal parts examining technical topics and learning to communicate complex work.
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
Being a Boettcher Scholar means more to me with each passing year. The connections I have made through the alumni group and at the foundation would never have been available to me otherwise (for example, today I met a potential client who worked for Boettcher & Co.). I love that whenever I talk with another scholar, I learn something new. Curiosity and discovery are innate to the scholar persona; these traits carry scholars far and wide and lead to experiences that I’ve found scholars very willing to share.
Volunteering for the Boettcher Foundation helped me start my own firm and indirectly led to meeting my current business partners. Ten years ago, recently laid off, I went to the foundation to volunteer to help gather some information from the alumni database. I never expected those volunteer hours to morph into being the foundation’s database administrator and consultant, and from there to me opening my own consulting firm.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
A good friend of mine told me that when you volunteer, you should participate in an organization for about five years, then move on. He said that was the best way for volunteer organizations to stay fresh and connected to their missions. I have found this to be excellent advice and have participated in a variety of nonprofits since I graduated. I was a graduate adviser for the Colorado School of Mines Kappa Sigma chapter and served as a founding member of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board, where I also served as co-chair. For the past five years, I have been the treasurer of the Grand Lake Yacht Club. I also regularly guest lecture for undergraduates, graduates and professionals about forensic accounting.
Recently, I have spent much of my time with the FIRST series of programs (firstinspires.org). FIRST Lego League Junior and FIRST Lego League are programs that help students in grades K-3 and 4-8 learn about their world through Legos, science and technology. Teaching kindergartners one day then graduate students the next has certainly opened my eyes to the challenges and rewards of teaching.
I love spending time with my wife Allison and my kids, Jake (21), Cody (8), and Ellie (5). We love sailing, snowshoeing, and hiking in the Grand Lake area and I enjoy playing water polo at the Denver Athletic Club.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
I generally offer two pieces of career advice for current graduates. First, get involved in the professional organizations in the industry that interests you. They are almost universally interested in having student members and typically offer free or highly reduced membership rates. This gives students an opportunity to meet people in the industry, understand real industry issues and provides something much more interesting to discuss in an interview than your favorite classroom textbook.
My second recommendation relates to those interested in forensic accounting. I tell interested students that success in forensic accounting requires in-depth knowledge of accounting plus at least one related subject area such as tax or audit. I recommend that students look for internal audit positions where they can get training as well as audit and fraud investigation experience.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
I would love to have another opportunity to talk with my grandparents and to meet my more distant ancestors, particularly those who moved to Colorado in the 1870s and early 1900s. I’d love to learn directly about what motivated them to leave their homes and what brought them here. I’d love to hear what it was like to live in Lake City in 1876 and to learn how what is now my daughter’s bed (and had been mine, and my mother’s, and her father’s and his father’s) came from Lake City to Denver.