CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP)
Director – State and Local Tax (SALT)
Employees you oversee: N/A. I technically oversee employees all over the country given the nature of my work, but the number varies constantly.
Brief background of your business:
At CLA, we’re experienced in delivering integrated wealth advisory, outsourcing, audit, tax and consulting services to help our clients succeed professionally and personally. We’re one family, working together to create opportunities.
How did you land your current role? How long have you been in it?
I have worked in public accounting for over 10 years with a focus on tax. About a year ago, I moved into a specialty tax group where I focus on state and local tax. I landed this role by expressing an interest in this type of work to my coach/advocate, who helped connect me with the state and local tax group at CLA.
Why should the Tri-Cities care about your industry?
Taxes impact everyone in one way or another. State and local tax can be difficult and confusing, but that’s where we come in and can help provide opportunities and assistance.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Empathy. The ability for a leader to truly understand the needs of others and have a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives is a characteristic that is key to building a strong team.
What is the biggest tax-related challenge facing business owners/managers today?
One very large challenge has to do with all the tax law changes that have occurred over the past few years and likely soon in the future. These changes are occurring not only at the federal level, but I see this daily at the state and local tax level.
If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your field?
I can’t really think of anything. State and local tax keeps me on my toes and I am constantly learning, which is what I love about it.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t try to do everything yourself. Look for mentors and other leaders to connect with and get advice from.
Who are your role models or mentors?
Personally, my grandma because she always reminds me of what is important and to advocate for myself. Professionally, I have found many role models over the years. I really connect with more experienced professionals that I can continually bounce ideas off of and who help me build my technical knowledge.
How do you keep your employees (or team members) motivated?
Again, I come back to empathy. Showing a genuine interest in others as well as being there to support them along the way is a huge motivation.
How did you decide to pursue the career you are working in today?
I fell into public accounting just by nature of my degree and the recommendations from my professors. I decided to focus on state and local tax because I found that I truly enjoyed the research and consulting side of that specialty. Over my time in public accounting, I have always found amazing people in the state and local tax groups and connected to the people and work.
How do you keep on top of changing rules governing taxation?
Reading tax updates from various research and news platforms every day is the best way I have found to keep on top of the changes. It also helps to surround yourself with very intelligent people who focus on these updates, whether from a federal or state and local tax perspective.
How do you measure success in your workplace?
I measure success personally through the feedback that I receive from others, whether it’s from clients or my teammates.
What do you consider your leadership style to be?
I’m not sure if I fit into one style, but I do strive to be an empathetic and supportive leader.
How do you balance work and family life?
I am not perfect at this and have been working at this for over 10 years. I think it is essential to set boundaries. I am incredibly lucky in my profession because there is a lot of flexibility in how and when I work. I make a point to schedule out both personal and professional meetings, responsibilities, activities, etc. on my work calendar so that I can balance work and family life better.
What’s your best time management strategy?
I am a big fan of lists, mainly because I love marking things off my lists. I find that blocking time for specific projects or activities is the best way for me to focus and manage my time.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I am really passionate about Walk to End Alzheimer’s and am involved locally as well as nationally as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Accounting Industry Leadership Council. I love spending time with my husband and 4-year-old daughter, whether it be bike rides or walks around the neighborhood.
Best tip to relieve stress?
I have a small notebook where I write a few things that I am grateful for each day. I find that this has a significant impact on my stress and helps me focus on the positive.
Do you have a personal mantra, phrase or quote you like to use?
Be present. Be patient. Be kind
What’s your favorite podcast? Favorite book?
One of my favorite podcasts is “This American Life.” One of my favorite books is “When Breath Becomes Air,” by Paul Kalanithi.
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