Mentoring CoB students is a matter of heart for Executive in Residence

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“SIU is just family for me” – Mentoring CoB students is a matter of heart for Executive in Residence

December 11, 2015, Katja Sonkeng

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Larry Bailey, Accounting '72.

For Larry Bailey, it’s been a hectic week – but a rewarding and insightful one, too.

It included breakfast with students in the morning, guest lecturing classes in the afternoon, and lunch and dinner with faculty and staff, including Brad Colwell, interim chancellor, and Jason Greene, interim dean of the College of Business at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Bailey, a Class of ’72 alumnus, is one of the three representatives of the Executive in Residence (EIR) program of the College of Business. Bailey and his fellow appointees – Ted E. Owen, president of Team Inc, and Ronald Smith, operations manager of four specialty medical groups for the University of California in San Diego (USCD) – are highly distinguished and successful professionals whose expertise is founded in business, accounting, finance, marketing or management.

As part of this initiative, SIU alumni spend a few days in the college to serve as guest speakers and lecturers, meeting with students, faculty and staff at the College of Business to share insights into their profession, create networking opportunities and provide practical recommendations, all while gathering new ideas and offering some valuable words of wisdom.

Bailey, who hails from Washington D.C., returned to his alma mater for one week in November, saying that “SIU is just family for me.”

His business background includes a bachelor’s degree in accounting from SIU, an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, and more than 40 years of tax and accounting experience in areas of financial services, real estate, health care, and the sports and entertainment industries.

He said he regards his new role at SIU as a matter of the heart.

“At this stage of my life, it’s more important to me to encourage the young people – and especially those who are not sure what is waiting for them,” he said. “I am trying to convey to them that you never know what is waiting for you. You just have to be prepared.”

Following his own advice many decades ago, the 18-year-old Bailey initially joined SIU Carbondale in 1968 as a business major – and with the anticipation of playing baseball, too.

But life had a different plan in store for him.

“I brought my glove with me, but I actually never played for SIU,” he said.

Instead, he kept scoring very high in his accounting exams – and that drew the attention of his professors.

“One day, my professor pulled me aside and encouraged me to switch my concentrations,” he said.

Four years later, Bailey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. It was the start of a remarkable career.

The rest of his story reads like a manual on how to become successful. After graduating, Bailey went back home to Washington, D.C., and landed his first job as an internal revenue agent for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Equipped with plenty of valuable work experience and insights into financial affairs, he continued his education at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he completed his MBA with a concentration in finance in 1976. He then became a partner in the international firm of KPMG Peat Marwick and joined PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 1991, first as direct entry partner then as partner-in-charge of the company’s Africa desk.

After more than 26 years of a stellar career in public accountancy, Bailey retired. But the licensed CPA has enjoyed anything but a quiet retirement. As the founder of the SIU’s accounting registered student organization Blacks Interested in Business (BIB), he still represents some of his former clients, including athletes and public and entertainment celebrities. Yet most of his time is dedicated to this particular interest in strengthening the continent of Africa.

“I just came back from Egypt, where I provided financing for companies involved in export projects,” he said.

Bailey also recently helped to write (and set in place) public partnership regulations in the West African nation of Cameroon, and he is involved with numerous other charitable organizations, including Africare and the Corporate Council on Africa.

Bailey also maintains numerous professional affiliations, serves on the board of Oversees of Wharton’s school at the University of Pennsylvania, and on the board of directors for CareFirst Inc., the regional Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance president. Since 2002, he also resumed the role of president of LDB Consulting Inc.

Despite his already packed retirement schedule, Bailey’s primary concern is now to contribute to his alma mater.

“I would like to do more for the school, as SIU is very special to me,” he said. “When I came out here, a lot of things were going on in the country in terms of student protests and unrest. A lot of it was going on at SIU.”

What he remembers and cherishes the most, however, is how instrumental SIU was for his future endeavors.

“The accounting department and the College of Business was, and has been, a great school – and definitely the place where I got the backbone for my accounting education,” he said.

Yet, as Bailey admits, “It is more fun now to come back to campus as an accomplished person, and not as an 18-year-old trying to figure out his place in the world.”

The appreciation is mutual. The College of Business inducted Bailey into its Hall of Fame in 1991. He later received the BIB Global Business Leadership Award in 2011 and the Distinguished Service Award from Southern Illinois University in 2012.