Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns on the red carpet

PwC tax partner Rick Rosas ('87 Accounting) (left) with PwC partner Brad Oltmanns


SDSU Accounting Grad Knows Oscar's Secrets

On February 24th, 2013, millions of movie fans from around the world will view "The Oscars" telecast as the name of each winner is announced publically for the first time.

But before any presenter can ask for "the envelope, please" someone has to place the winner's name in it first.

That someone is Chula Vista native and SDSU graduate Rick Rosas ('87, accounting). The PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) tax partner and fellow PwC partner Brad Oltmanns are the only two people in the world to know all 24 of the Oscar® winners' names prior to show time.

The awards ceremony will mark its 85th year in 2013 and for 79 of those years PwC has been tabulating the votes from members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – also known simply as the Academy. Rosas has been overseeing the process and carrying the winners' names to the ceremony via police-escorted limousine since 2002.

It's a great gig for Rosas who says he's "always been a fan of the movies", but it's not where he imagined himself during his student-days at SDSU. "I was hoping to work at the FBI," said Rosas. "I even interviewed with them when they came to campus, but a federal hiring freeze made it impossible for me to join the bureau right out of college."

Instead, he joined a locally-based accounting firm and then went to work for Deloitte. He was at Deloitte when he saw an opportunity to work in the entertainment division of PwC based in their Century City, California office. After discussing a possible move to the Los Angeles area with his wife, Sharon ('90, social work), Rosas applied for, and got, the job in 1996.

Rosas made a name for himself in the entertainment industry because of the tax work he did for non-profit organizations, including the Academy. When a position became open to head up the Academy Award voting process, Rosas got the nod "because they already knew me."

To make sure the envelopes get into the right hands at the awards ceremony, Rosas stays busy backstage where he gets to meet some of the world's most famous actors and actresses. Julie Andrews is one of his favorites. "She was backstage at the awards and took the initiative to strike up a conversation," he said. "She was charming, gracious and engaging." Russell Crowe is another celebrity Rosas enjoyed meeting. "I first met him when he was up for a Best Actor award for A Beautiful Mind and he was just great to deal with. I've met him since then and, again, he was just really great."

When he isn't working with the Academy Awards, Rosas – whose favorite movie is Casablanca – works on the taxes of a number of entertainment companies, including The Walt Disney Company. It's work that he loves, primarily because he loves the industry he works with.

His advice to today's SDSU students is to stay flexible and be open-minded. "I tell students to be very open and try a lot of different things," said Rosas, the one-time law enforcement hopeful. "They will likely end up in a very different spot than where they think."