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"See what Oscar says. —Ask Oscar.—Let Oscar take a look at it and ask him what he thinks." Oscar Gellein has been answering questions, or helping other people solve difficult accounting and auditing problems, ever since he left the university campus nineteen years ago to start the research department in the Haskins & Sells Executive Office. Ask him to pin down for you exactly what he does, and what his title is, and you get a somewhat elusive answer: "I have no exact title, really; I am just in charge of our auditing and accounting practice. That's the best way to describe it. The closest thing to a title I can think of is Director of Accounting and Auditing." Oscar Gellein is a big man, whose wide-open smile and friendly eyes radiate cordiality. He is imposing in appearance, with the broad brow and solid, determined features that tell you he knows what he is doing and where he is going. His rimless glasses add a touch of the scholar to the portrait. But there is nothing reserved or austere in his manner when he speaks, or when he listens. The words are spoken with economy and sincerity, and with complete clarity of meaning. Oscar is above all a communicator, who speaks to you directly and personally. With it all there is a touch of humor that is never far below the surface. Perhaps the secret of Oscar Gellein's success in H&S stems not only from his great abilities in the theoretical and technical side of the practice, but also from his many years of dealing with other people as teacher and as student. Everywhere along the road, from his earliest years, he seems to have welcomed taking on challenging new tasks, both as learner and as instructor. He probably could not stop either function if he tried, and he probably wouldn't want to. As of this moment he is the EO partner responsible for overall supervision of the General Motors engagement; he devotes a large part of his time to service on the Accounting Principles Board; he serves on the Trueblood Commission, which is charged with determining long-range objectives for the entire public accounting profession; he is a member of the H&S Policy Committee; and he administers a number of EO sections and departments that provide technical services to the practice offices of the Firm. Aside from that, he will find time to speak before professional groups — and has earned a reputation as one of the best speakers in our Firm. It is characteristic of Oscar Gellein that when he is asked how he came to accounting and to his present position in the profession, he underplays his dedication "You often come to your life's work," he says of his own situation, "because you happen to be in a certain place at a certain time; you are a victim of circumstance. That is true of most of us, and it was that way with me." With a bit of prompting, he tells you his story, modestly leaving out the fact that a determined, able person puts himself in a certain place at a certain time because he worked to get there. Oscar's parents, who came to the United States from Norway, lived in Denver for two years after he was born, then in San Diego, and when Oscar was eight years old the family moved to a farm in western Idaho, in the Snake River country near the Oregon line. Oscar's father had been a carpenter until that time, but decided he wanted to own his own land, and Idaho furnished the opportunity. Oscar attended a one-room school, eight grades with one teacher. Twice at the start of a year the teacher found young Oscar was the only pupil in his grade, so she skipped him up a grade so he could be taught with a group. Result: Oscar had to hustle, and he was barely sixteen when he finished high school. "I was pretty young..." he says, recalling those days. "So I stayed out a year before trying college and worked at all sorts of things —riding the ditch, working on the farm, haying, threshing and so on. Then I went to the University of Idaho for one semester, but dropped out and worked for another year and a half, and looked around for a school where I could earn some money while taking courses. I found one, Southeastern Oklahoma State, at Durant, Oklahoma. I held three jobs that kept me in school — I was janitor in the evening, I worked in the cafeteria for two meals a day, and I worked in the bursar's office in the Oscar S. Gellein **-• 18
|Title||People in H&S: Oscar S. Gellein|
Gellein, Oscar S.
Queenan, John W.
Gellein, Oscar S.
Haskins & Sells. Executive Office
Haskins & Sells. Newark Office
Haskins & Sells. Detroit Office
H&S Reports, Vol. 09, (1972 autumn), p. 18-19
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte; Photograph by Roy Stevens|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|