I entered college as a music wonder kid, graduating from high school after achieving various accolades within the state in both vocal and trombone performance. As would be anticipated from a band nerd, everyone expected me to pursue music as my chosen career at college. After one semester at BYU and two years living in Venezuela, I returned to Reno to spend the three week Christmas break. During this time, I got my first taste of accounting working for the firm my father started in 2001. After another semester at school, I returned to Reno and completed a quasi-internship at my father’s firm that summer, where I did everything from payroll to clerk work. Most importantly, I sat in on meetings with clients and watched how decisions from tax planning to business strategy could make significant impact on the performance of their business. I fell in love with numbers, with the interaction with the clients, and how I could become a truly trusted advisor.
I love getting to work with clients each and every day. From the firedrills to the mundane, each day provides a unique experience and another story to tell. I value the relationships with other business professionals, with my clients, and with my colleagues. I enjoy working with clients and knowing that they value my experience and lean on me in their critical decision making process.
I would say don’t be afraid to dive in with your feet first. A CPA provides an excellent credential and opportunity to understand the entire business, not just how one enters an invoice and writes a check. During my time at PwC, I watched the entire manufacturing process of a fortune 50 computer manufacturer, from arrival of inventory to the package being shipped out the door. CPAs must understand the operational, marketing and administrative side of the entire business. CPAs have a much more expanded breadth and depth of knowledge because of their inherent need to know the business. No other profession can provide you the access to the entire business like being a CPA can.
I would say the three most important skills that any CPA could have include: 1) Relationship building – build repore with colleagues, clients, suppliers, and prospective clients; 2) Communication – understanding the different forms of communication and different styles of communication can make you a more effective leader and team member; and 3) Stay current – as a CPA you will be the first one asked about economic changes, trends, forecasts, and law changes, so stay relevant and up-to-date. Five-to-10 minutes a day with the AICPA’s daily digests is a good first step.
Is there a balance? With a small, growing firm, it is always difficult. But, one thing I do is to set aside time in the calendar. I physically set an appointment to do things like leave the office, or time with the family or each individual child, so that I know I cannot plan over it. When I get home, work is set aside and is not picked up again until the kids are in bed and the dishes are done. During busy season, we set a goal to have a lunch or dinner date as a family once a week where they come see me at the office. Recently, I also took to picking the kids up from school once every other week just so they know they are important for me to spend my lunch hour with them.
My most meaningful volunteer time has been the last four years teaching high school kids in an early morning bible study seminary class. I am out the door at 6:15 am and teach for one hour from 6:45 to 7:45 each morning. I cherish seeing the faces of 14 to 18 year old high school students who are sacrificing their time to learn religious topics. I truly believe I can make a difference in at least one of their lives.
I think it depends upon the area the CPA practices. I believe one of the strongest challenges, but one I believe younger CPAs will thrive with, is globalization. As more and more businesses expand their footprint whether through technology, infrastructure or operationally, CPAs must be proactive and knowledgeable in regards to both domestic and international matters.