University News

An immersive accounting experience

February 14, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photo submitted

Renee Kraft.

Renee Kraft started her tenure as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2008 as a shy, self-proclaimed “numbers nerd” from DeForest.

She left the institution five years later with two degrees and a world of opportunity in front of her.

Kraft, now a senior manager for planning and forecasting at Molson Coors Beverage Company in Milwaukee, earned a BBA in accounting in 2012 and a Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) from UW-Whitewater in 2013.

As a high school student, she was pointed in the direction of UW-Whitewater by Joan Fischer, her business teacher at DeForest Area High School. Fischer graduated with a BSE in business education in 1978.

“Because of her recommendation, I went on a campus tour, and I just loved the campus,” Kraft said. “I loved the size of it, I loved the smaller class sizes, I liked how accessible it was. It was very much within my comfort zone to be at that size of a school, but also far enough away from DeForest … it was an all-around perfect fit.”

With a natural gift for understanding mathematics and a strong baseline of knowledge in accounting, Kraft didn’t take long to immerse herself in the culture in the College of Business and Economics.

“I started taking accounting classes and all the instructors at UW-Whitewater were phenomenal,” she said. “They really kept me in the program, even when things got tough or when the material got more complex.”

Kraft kept busy to complement her well-rounded business class schedule. She joined the university’s Epsilon Rho chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an organization for financial information students and professionals. The group, then advised by accounting faculty member Bill Tatman, helped her connect with businesses and other accounting majors within the college. Kraft worked in the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) as an accounting tutor.

Kraft was also a part of Sigma Sigma Sigma on campus, building another network outside of CoBE of approximately 100 sorority sisters.

“That was a really great way of breaking out of my shell,” Kraft said. “I always had somebody to lean on once it got tough. It also gave me a lot of good leadership opportunities within the organization. I think it was exactly what I needed at that point of my life.”

Kraft secured an internship in tax, preparing individual and corporate tax returns at McGladrey, now RSM, in Madison during her final undergraduate semester. She said the experience allowed her to understand what it was like to be a professional and to figure out what she wanted to do in the accounting world.

After earning her degree, Kraft spent one more year at UW-Whitewater, earning her MPA in 2013 before beginning her professional career as an auditor at Schenck SC, now CliftonLarsonAllen.

“The MPA provided me with enhanced knowledge of accounting policies and procedures — we had to do case studies that I wouldn’t have seen as an undergrad,” Kraft said. “There are so many soft skills I learned even on top of the normal accounting policies and procedures.”

Kraft has been working at Molson Coors since September 2016 and was promoted to her current position last June.

“For someone who’s a numbers nerd, this is a dream of mine,” Kraft said. “I work with some fantastic leaders that really support me and are helping me grow in my career.”

One of Kraft’s favorite parts of working in business is meeting fellow Warhawks along her journey.

“You just get that instant respect for each other because you know what you worked through in your education,” Kraft said. “We immediately have something exciting to talk about.”