February 28, 2013
Lynne Leu knew from a young age she was meant to be a Mountaineer.
Looking back, Leu, who today serves as the Director of Internal Audit for the United States Steel Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pa., still believes her time at West Virginia University was "meant to be."
Originally from Steel City suburb Jeannette, Pa., Leu graduated with her degree in accounting from B&E in December 1985. Immediately after earning her degree she began her career at U. S. Steel, where she has worked in various capacities for 26 years.
"In the corporate world especially, we tend to focus on interpersonal skills like oral and written communication, diversity, critical thinking skills and learning to adapt on the fly," Leu said. "WVU really provided me with a solid foundation." She credited auditing and cost accounting courses with former professors Dr. Ann Pushkin and Dr. Jay Coates, respectively, as particularly helpful components of a thorough business and accounting education.
But one class that truly changed Leu's life was intermediate accounting with Professor Ade Neidermeyer
"Dr. Neidermeyer, he was a very, very good teacher. He was a legend even back then. If you really want a good basis of accounting, take him. He was both challenging but made the work rewarding. The class was interesting and it was a good learning experience," she said. At the conclusion of the course, Dr. Neidermeyer asked Leu to consider working with him in an independent study. She agreed, and according to Leu, the independent study truly laid the groundwork for her career.
"(Professor Neidermeyer) was doing research to have an article published, and U.S. Steel had a dedicated department for accounting research and planning that liked my understanding of how to perform the research and consider how that theory would need to be applied," said Leu. When the company visited and interviewed on campus, she seized the opportunity and was offered a job at U.S. Steel before her diploma was in hand.
When she began at U.S. Steel, the nation's largest integrated steel corporation, she worked in the accounting and finance departments. However, Leu has spent the second half of her career in internal auditing.
At U.S. Steel, the audit staff has approximately 90 people globally according to Leu. "I report to the Chief Auditor. I'm responsible for the development of an annual audit plan, quality assurance and compliance with internal auditing standards," she said of her work. The audit committee looks to her department to provide independent, objective assurance and be the eyes and ears of the corporation. She is also responsible for the company's special investigations in Internal Audit.
"The (special investigation) team is all fraud and forensic accounting. We're all certified fraud examiners. We have the tools and specialized training to do those types of investigations," Leu said. "At this point in my career, I think internal auditing is really 'me'. By nature, I like things being done right. I like transparency, high integrity. Those things are my fit," she said.
As an alumna, Leu has very fond memories of her time spent at WVU.
"Truly, WVU is special for me," said Leu. "I have 14 family members that have gone there. My sister started in the nursing program in 1972 when I was 9 years old. I spent a lot of time (at WVU) when I was growing up. Then, my brother went in 1977 for music education. For me, it was the inherent place I was going to go. I loved the atmosphere, knew the campuses and it just felt right. I was meant to go there, I really believe that," she said.
While at WVU, Leu met her husband, Michael, while participating in the Pride of West Virginia. They've been married over 30 years. Today, their two daughters are also Mountaineers – their elder daughter (Jennifer) graduated in May 2006 with bachelor and master's degrees in education, and the younger (Jessica) is currently a senior marketing major and honors student at B&E.
Leu continues to be involved at WVU, not only as a parent, but on behalf of her company. She visited campus last summer to discuss on-campus recruiting opportunities for U.S. Steel. The company has recently selected WVU as one of their enterprise schools for recruiting. Although Leu will not personally be a recruiter, she has been asked to serve on an executive campus team with the Vice President of HR to oversee the recruitment process and university relations.
"There was a period of time when (the company) wasn't actively recruiting business students at WVU. But our HR group has since selected WVU because of the strength of the curriculum in the various disciplines we hire."
Leu encouraged current B&E students to define success for themselves instead of allowing society or the business world to define it for them.
"You have to like who you look at in the mirror every day, and that's not always easy. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone," she advised. "I choose to be an optimist. Look at challenges as opportunities. The truth is you can learn the most from the negative things. Your attitude is everything. You don't ever know what path your career will take, so you just have to be receptive to where it ends up taking you."