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Fashion & Finance: It’s in your name and everything you do

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September 16, 2011

On Saturday, Sept. 17, I’ll be getting married in my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. I’m extremely excited, and have been planning for months and months on end. It will be wonderful to see it all come together, to celebrate with friends and family, and of course, to commit to someone who I adore.

As the day draws closer, I have been trying very hard not to be a “Bridezilla,” and have instead tried to model myself after the seemingly calm and collected regal bride Kate Middleton, who on her wedding day appeared to make it all look so effortless. Our wedding here in Buffalo will be an amazing time no matter what snafus we encounter, and I’m excited to see our own royal wedding come together (I’ve even requested our female guests wear hats!).

As I’m getting married, many people at work have been asking me about whether or not I will be taking my husband’s last name, and if I will be making the move to officially change my name legally. It got me thinking, and even posting a query on the Association for Accounting Marketing’s LinkedIn group, about what career women are doing these days when they get married, and if they chose to keep their last names, adopt their partner’s or hyphenate.

Your name says a lot about you, and can certainly be part of your signature “style.” Many working women chose to keep the name that their business associates and contacts are familiar with, or a name that they have been cited with or published by to keep things consistent, while others take on their partner’s last name to switch it up. Others want to create a hybrid of sorts, and opt to hyphenate, using both their own last name hyphenated with their partner’s, switch their last name to their middle name, or blend both last names together to create a new identity all together.

One of my favorite online publications, The Huffington Post, recently published an article over the summer about this very topic called “Should Women Change Their Last Names After Marriage?”. The article stated that in March, the wedding website TheKnot.com surveyed nearly 19,000 women who got married last year. Of those women, 86 percent took their husband's name.

This was surprising to me, because, first of all, the comments posted to this article demonstrated a great number of strong opinions on the subject. Also, I just assumed lots of working women were like me, and might consider holding on to their own last name for business purposes.

The future Duke and Duchess Perryman

While I will legally soon be known as a “Perryman,” a family I am very honored to be joining, I also feel that I have worked very hard to build a career for myself, and be cited and published as Emily Alexandria Burns. I love my name, am proud of the family that gave it to me, and would like to continue using it in the business space so people can still identify the savvy PR woman who famously went from fashion to accounting.

As your name says a lot about you, I’m very curious to know what female professionals in the accounting and finance fields have done when faced with this very unique choice about their last name, and what the outcome has been one way or another. Feel free to voice your thoughts here in the comments section or on Accounting Today’s Facebook wall. I’d love to hear your experiences!

In addition to your name being part of your overall “style,” the way you carry yourself is also a big part of who you are, and how others view you as a working professional. I took some time to crowdsource a few thoughts from HR professionals on LinkedIn on what NOT to do during a job interview, along with some of their horror stories. I’ll be sharing some of their experiences with you in my next post, but for the time being, here are two of my own thoughts on what not to do while in a job interview or while with clients, prospects or business people in general.

1)    Don’t chew gum. While gum can help a smoker trying to quit make it through the day, or suppress the desire for an extra snack for someone trying to watch their weight, snapping and cracking on a wad of gum is just gross, and can appear tacky and in bad taste. Save the gum for your office, or on the car ride there for minty-fresh breath, but be tactful and discreet enough to dispose of it before taking a meeting with a client or making a presentation in front of a large group.

2)    Turn off all your digital toys. Sadly, many of us can’t remember the old days before cell phones, iPads, Palm Pilots, tablets and other digital tools and toys. While these devices have helped us become more functional employees and make our lives easier, more organized and productive, they can also be incredibly distracting and offensive to someone when they might really need your attention and concentration. When not absolutely necessary, consider putting all your digital tools and toys on silent. Provide your full attention to those who you are with, as you’d most likely want them to give you the same respect. Turning your gear off is critical during a job interview or big business meeting of course, as no one but you wants to hear your Lil Wayne ring tone.

Thanks for keeping up with me here on Accounting Tomorrow, and look for my next blog in a few weeks. By then, I’ll be an old married lady! Wish me luck!

Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.

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