Life at Deloitte
Leaders & Shapers
Elijah Watt Sells
A native of Muscatine, Iowa, Elijah Watt Sells' talent and diligence took him to the top of his profession. He studied briefly at Baker University before leaving at age 16 to become an assistant station agent for the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad. His work brought him to the attention of the head office, and he was quickly promoted. By 1893, after working for a number of railroads, Sells had earned a substantial reputation as an accountant, as evidenced by his appointment to the Dockery Commission.
After the death of his partner Charles Haskins in 1903, Sells not only successfully managed the firm for more than two decades, but also had a great impact on the profession as a whole. The prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award, established in 1923, is presented to CPA candidates who earn the highest grades on the CPA exam.
Sells was deeply involved in all aspects of Haskins & Sells, including its firm-sponsored sporting endeavors, about which he wrote a monograph. He hosted a baseball game between employees and a team of nonemployees every year at his Westchester estate.
In 1907 the Haskins & Sells team had grown so overconfident that Sells decided to bring them down a peg or two. He hired players from the National League's New York Giants and dressed them in farm clothes to humble the firm's team.