For Jodi Abbate (BSBA ’02), serving in a financial reporting leadership role at Nationwide Insurance seems natural, given that she earned a degree from Fisher in finance. But her path to where she is today required a lot of hard work, advice from trusted mentors and one other very important thing: additional coursework in accounting from Fisher.

Abbate began her professional career as a financial analyst at Abbott, where she had previously worked as an intern. She learned quickly that if she wanted to one day advance into a leadership role in her field, she’d need to round out her résumé with some additional experience.

“As I networked and had development conversations with senior leaders, a common theme that arose was that leaders in finance also had experience working at public accounting firms,” she said. “I then began reaching out to friends who worked at the Big Four firms and ended up interviewing with KPMG."

“I received a job offer, but it was contingent on going back to school to receive the necessary hours to sit for the CPA exam.”

Jodi Abbate
Jodi Abbate (BSBA ’02)

While continuing to work full time at Abbott, she re-enrolled at Fisher and began working toward her goal.

“In addition to the classes at Fisher, I worked with one professor to do additional hours virtually, which allowed for flexibility while juggling work and school,” Abbate said. “The extra effort to get my accounting hours at Fisher was well worth it, as working at a great accounting firm like KPMG opened a lot of doors in my career.”

She worked as an audit manager at KPMG for six years before transitioning into a role at L Brands as a manager of financial reporting. In 2010, she moved from the fashion industry to financial services and began her career at Nationwide. Today, she serves as vice president of financial reporting and accounting policy and research.

Throughout her career, Abbate has learned to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” making it a point to volunteer for projects for which she didn’t always meet all the qualifications. She credits that willingness to pursue stretch roles with helping in her career progression.

And it’s advice she passes along when mentoring junior-level co-workers.

“I have been fortunate to have had some fantastic mentors in my own career who have been pivotal in my professional development, and I take seriously the role and responsibility of acting as a mentor,” she said. “Coaching people in their career, helping them grow personally and professionally, providing constructive feedback that’s critical for development, and then seeing the success of these individuals is without question my greatest satisfaction at work.”

Abbate’s efforts to pay forward as a mentor are her way of honoring the numerous mentors who’ve been crucial in her professional development — from her time as a Fisher student through her rise to her current leadership role at one of the nation’s top property and casualty insurers.

Throughout my time at Ohio State and throughout my career, my mentors have been individuals I respected and trusted, and who’ve had qualities that I admire both professionally and personally. They have been role models for me as I think about how I should handle situations. Having a mentor you trust and can have candid conversations with is a great asset to have, regardless of where you are in your career journey.”

Jodi Abbate (BSBA ’02)Vice President of Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy and Research,
Nationwide Insurance

Reflecting on her choice of where to attend college, the native of Antwerp in northwestern Ohio recalls being drawn to the opportunities she knew she would experience in Columbus and at Ohio State. For Abbate, the idea of studying at a large campus with countless occasions to engage in academic pursuits, social networks and athletic groups was appealing.

“The passion and pride of being a Buckeye was contagious from my first college visit,” she said. “The diversity of the student body — a true melting pot across different ethnic and cultural backgrounds — provided experiences to learn and grow that have been important for both my personal and professional growth.”

For current Fisher students seeking a career in the financial services industry, Abbate’s advice is to spend time researching prospective employers and to demonstrate excitement during interviews. Additionally, she stresses that it’s important to practice interviewing. During her time as an undergraduate student, she found the resources and mock-interview opportunities available through Fisher’s award-winning Office of Career Management to be invaluable in her preparation for both internship and job interviews.

Throughout her career, she’s found both challenge and opportunity through building and living her personal brand while continuing to expand her professional network. She's thankful to Ohio State for giving her chances to build those skills early on — from in-class presentations to working with diverse student groups to finding unique ways to stand out — and those undergraduate experiences continue to benefit her today.

Ohio State also inspired Abbate’s passion for lifelong learning. In addition to earning her CPA, she also holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) insurance industry designation, and recently she’s been pursuing a Certification in Practice of Data Analytics from the College of Engineering, which she anticipates will be an important asset to her and her team at Nationwide.

Additionally, she credits Ohio State and Fisher with helping her forge a strong network of friends and colleagues that has been invaluable throughout her career by opening doors at companies where she has worked.

But one tie to Fisher is ever present in her life: her husband, Keith Abbate (BSBA ’00), who also studied at Fisher and works at Donnelley Financial Solutions.

Jodi and Keith have two young children who keep the couple busy. For Jodi, family is her top priority, and she enjoys vacationing and spending time with family and friends. She likes to maintain an active lifestyle that includes running and working out; her commitment to remaining physically active helps her decompress and maintain a sense of balance in her life.

Abbate admits that juggling the demands of work and home can be challenging, but she feels a sense of obligation to be a good role model for her children and for her colleagues.

“Whether it’s working or staying at home full time, no version of being a parent is easy,” she said. “You can be engaged and present at home and also be successful at work. I’m proud of being the best working mom that I can be.”

Having a mentor you trust and can have candid conversations with is a great asset to have, regardless of where you are in your career journey."

Jodi Abbate (BSBA ’02)Vice President of Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy and Research,
Nationwide Insurance