Board member and alumnus Doug Townsdin '83 visited York College on Monday, March 26, to bless students with stories from his personal and professional experiences.

Townsdin started the day by giving the message during chapel. He spoke about the challenges he faced after leaving York College, including battles with depression and broken relationships, as he strove toward professional success. He touched on the book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Christian theologian Richard Rohr, and invited students to enter into a deeper relationship with God by “bringing it all to the table”--all of their good parts and bad parts, seeking transformation. 

Townsdin is married to fellow alumna Danna (Nelson) Townsdin ‘84. He is an audit services partner at Grant Thornton in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and plans to retire in the coming months.

Later in the day, he brought his professional expertise to a senior level business capstone class to talk to students about changes in the industry and what skills they’ll need to thrive. From digital currency expertise to superior communication skills, Townsdin instructed the group of  seniors on what it takes to stand out and succeed. He stressed the importance of integrity, which he defined as “making your words line up with your actions.” He encouraged students to never be afraid to say, 'I don’t know,’ as long as they can follow it up with ‘but I will find out.’

Townsdin told students that the field of accounting is undergoing major shifts: ease of access to big data and improved technology that makes it harder to hide corruption has made some of the work accountants used to do obsolete. “Be adaptive,” he told them. Even with these changes, the value of accountants as interpreters, turning data into insights, will remain.

When it comes to recent grads entering the marketplace, poor communication skills are the biggest liability, said Townsdin. He told students they must improve not only their written and oral communication skills, but also their listening skills. “Silence is your friend. You don’t have to fill up all the space. Think before you speak and really take time to listen,” he implored.

On a related note, he told students never to respond to an email too quickly when they are frustrated or angry. “Be very careful what you put in an email,” he said, telling a story about a time when a hastily sent email (with an unintended thread of nested communication) came back to haunt him.  

Finally, “Stand up for what you believe, but recognize that often, it’s just your opinion, not a fact,” he told them. “Once your team makes a decision, stick by the decision. Don’t throw your teammates under the bus.”