Linda M. Warren admits that she enrolled at VCU carrying a University of Richmond “snob bias.” She spent two undergraduate years at Richmond, then transferred to VCU for financial reasons.
“Since I could finish my last two years at VCU for what one semester at Richmond would have cost, VCU was the only viable choice,” she says, revealing her early business acumen.
The academic switch turned into a positive for generations of VCU accounting students. “When I went to take the CPA exam, I did not study at all for it, looking for it to be a test of how well the professors in the School of Business taught me,” Warren recalls. “I passed three of the four parts the first time and got the highest failing grade possible in law. I went to the dean of the business school to complain that I had just taken two semesters of business law, gotten A’s in both, but didn’t pass the law part of the exam. As a result of my complaint, a new class was established, Law for Accountants, that helped future students be better prepared.”
Warren began her career at Philip Morris USA in 1975 as the first degreed female accountant hired in financial accounting by the company. Twelve years later, she was promoted to assistant controller in accounting services and was named Philip Morris USA controller in 1993. She assumed the position of assistant controller for financial services in 1997 and was responsible for consolidated accounting, reporting, disbursements and internal controls.
She retired in 2012 as vice president and controller for Altria Group, parent company of Philip Morris, with responsibility for shared payment services, headquarters accounting and external financial reporting.
“When I graduated,” she says, “I never dreamed that I would have that amazing of a career.”
Warren serves on the VCU Controllers Executive Roundtable Steering Committee and is immediate past chair of The Richmond Forum board of directors. She is a Life member of VCU Alumni and an active member of its Business Alumni Society, a trustee of the School of Business Foundation board and is chair of the audit committee of VCU Alumni.
With her gift in 2015 to establish the Linda M. Warren Student Enrichment Fund, she recognized the importance of experiential learning and her support sets business students on a path to success in the classroom and in the workplace.
“My education at VCU was excellent,” says Warren, a VCU Alumni Life Member and major donor. “Not only did the professors teach academics, they taught us to work hard, and I recall the most important lesson ever taught to me. It was from John Sperry, my cost accounting professor, who told the class one day: ‘Everyone has their price. Make sure yours is so high, no one can ever afford to pay it.’”