Over the years I have been asked several common questions about my life and career, and I thought I would answer them together for anyone interested in my background.
1. How long did you spend in Russia? Why did you go to Russia? Why did you leave Russia?
I spent 18 years in Russia, starting with two years in Togliatti and the rest in Moscow. I moved to Russia soon after graduating from Miami University, having been interested in Russia since high school after my first visit to Russia in 1987, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. I returned to Russia again in 1989 and 1990. When I entered college, I was studying Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and Russian History. After looking at the limited career opportunities for Russian History professors, I switched my major to Accountancy. When I interviewed for jobs with the Big 6 audit firms, I said that I wanted to work in Russia. I ended up with three offers in Russia and chose to work with Price Waterhouse in Togliatti. AvtoVAZ, the largest Russian car manufacturer, was the single client in that office.
There was no specific reason that I decided to leave Russia, just a general desire to return to the US. I enjoyed all of my time in Russia and I would do it again.
2. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy helping other people succeed, and providing a personal level of support during someone’s studies is what I enjoy the most. It is very fulfilling to receive emails from candidates who have studied with HOCK, passed their exams, and gone on to have great success in their career.
3. If you were not teaching, what would you be doing instead?
That is a difficult question because it has been so long since I did anything else, having been involved in training since 1996. I started training at PwC in Moscow, then moved to ATC International, and then after one year as the regional training manager for Arthur Andersen, I opened HOCK Training in 2000. If I had to do something other than teaching, I think I would like to be a small business consultant helping entrepreneurs reach their dreams.
4. What are some of the most memorable books you have read?
I greatly enjoyed reading The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay, and Wild Swans, by Jung Chang. In general, I like reading historical fiction.
5. What is your favorite topic to teach?
If I had to pick just one, I would say that my most favorite topic to teach is CPA Business Law because it is a topic that many non-US candidates are not familiar with and find difficult. I think that Business Law is a topic that I am able to bring more value to candidates through a clear and understandable presentation of these topics.
6. What did you study at University?
I have two Bachelors’ Degrees from Miami University (located in the state of Ohio, not Florida), in History and Accountancy. As much I enjoyed all of my history studies and considered getting a PhD in Russian History, employment prospects were much higher for an accountant than for a Russian historian.
7. How did you start writing your own textbooks?
I started writing textbooks because the candidates that I was teaching in 2000 were not able to understand the review materials that were in the market for CPA and CMA at that time. The first topics that I wrote were for Bonds and Leases for CPA while I was teaching a CPA group in Almaty, Kazakhstan. After the students commented how easy my materials were to study from, I wrote the rest of the topics as well. Within a couple of years, I had replaced all of the other CMA, CPA, and CIA materials that we had been using with HOCK materials.
8. Have you traveled a lot for your work?
When I was living in Russia I did a lot of traveling within the former Soviet Union. I taught classes in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. As a company we also had classes in Belarus, but they were all in Russian, so I did not teach them.
9. How do you prepare for teaching, whether in class or for videos?
In addition to making certain that I have in my mind the progression through the topics and the examples, the main thing I do before I make a video is take a moment to remind myself that candidates around the world are going to use these materials to help them prepare to pass the exam and that I keep their success as the motivation behind my videos. It was a few years ago that I switched my focus from how much we sold to instead focusing on making certain that we are providing the best and highest support for candidates who are relying on us to help them. I know that the cost of the exams and preparing is a significant investment (in both money and time) and candidates place a great trust in their provider. I want to make certain that we do not violate that trust.
10. Do you have any other accountants in your family?
Yes, I do. My father was an accounting professor (one of the best that I had) for over 30 years. My older brother is a CPA and works in consulting and litigation services. My younger brother, Kevin, who works with me at HOCK, also has an accounting degree (and a computer science degree).
I hope that you have enjoyed this Q&A. Stayed tuned for another Q&A later this week answering some common exam prep questions!
Brian Hock, CMA, CIA