B&E alum’s accounting degree leads to career with U.S. Coast Guard
Educators at the WVU College of Business and Economics endeavor to teach business concepts, ideas, ethics and greatness that students will take with them throughout life. Dr. Adolph Neidermeyer, a recently retired professor of accounting, can say he did just that, thanks to Captain F. Thomas Boross, Chief, Auxiliary and Boating Safety for the U.S. Coast Guard and 1985 graduate of B&E.
“I can remember as a B&E accounting student, Dr. Neidermeyer always preached, ‘You have to establish goals for yourself,’” said Captain Boross. “That is something that always stuck with me. My financial goal was after I got off the corporate track, I prioritized getting paid to fly.”
Captain Boross combined his accounting degree and passion for flying to lead a successful military career, beginning in the U.S. Navy and transferring via the Direct Commission Aviator program to the U.S. Coast Guard in 1991. Although, he did not initially launch his career by serving his country.
After graduating from B&E, Captain Boross initiated his accounting career as an audit staff accountant with the number one of the Big Eight (now Big Four) accounting firms, Deloitte Haskins & Sells in San Diego.
“I owe so much to B&E and Dr. Neidermeyer while I was in undergrad,” he said. “His letter of recommendation gave me the boost I needed in my career, and working with the accounting department through work study helped me to be ready to hit the ground running with my career.”
While working at Deloitte, Captain Boross was sent to Saudi Arabia for 10 weeks to work on the firm’s Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, account, and on the Aramco compound. That’s where his strong desire to fly began.
“Hearing the loud jet engines caught my attention. When I got back stateside, I went to see a Navy recruiter to find out what it took,” Captain Boross said. “I ended up taking flying lessons. If I was going to walk away from the number one Big Eight accounting firm, I had to have an aptitude for flying.”
While still with Deloitte, another aviation opportunity presented itself.
“I flew to western Pennsylvania to do audit field work on the Fisher Scientific account. During the return flight to San Diego, I sat with two naval aviators, one of which was a F-14 fighter jet instructor pilot,” he said. “I am telling them what I am currently doing, and they invite me to fly a F-14 simulator at Miramar at their flight school. I crashed it several times, but it was so exciting.”
“A chance encounter on a plane, I continued to chase a dream. As I started taking flying lessons and enjoying it, I knew I wanted to get paid to fly,” he said.
Soon after, he left Deloitte to be Chief Financial Officer at Trident Plastics Inc. There, he led in the effort to computerize their accounting system, and he was still taking flying lessons on the side. But after much debate, he resigned and reported to the U.S. Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School in May 1989.
“I was following a dream. I wanted to fly for my country,” he said.
Captain Boross has held several positions serving the U.S., including HU-25 Pilot; Aviation Technical Training Center Executive Officer; Chief, Aviation Resources in the Office of Aeronautical Engineering at Coast Headquarters in Washington, DC; Chief Engineer and then Executive Officer of the Aviation Logistics Center. In addition to his accounting degree from B&E, he earned a Masters of Public Administration from Old Dominion University.
“There is approximately $120 million annually that flows through the United States Coast Guard. It is money that is collected through the Department of Interior,” Captain Boross said. “Due to my education and as a CPA, I have had responsibility in financial decisions in my Coast Guard career.”
“In my current position, I am dealing with key decision makers from the Auxiliary. There are 31,000 Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers, and 36,000 U.S. Power Squadrons. These are the primary agents for promoting recreational boating safety across the 56 states and territories,” he said.
Captain Boross is a native of Pittsburgh and currently resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Sandy, who is also a graduate of WVU. Their son, Jacob, is a 2013 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and daughter, Whitney, recently graduated from Belmont University with degrees in music business and accounting.
“As a Mountaineer, I was guided to meet the wonderful, smart, hungry, hardworking people that are in my life today,” Captain Boross said. “It is an honor to serve with the world’s best coast guard.”