Tell us about yourself and your company: I am a tax director with Burr Pilger Mayer, Inc. (BPM) Over a long career, I have worked with the needs of all types of individuals and businesses. My current specialty is estate and trust planning and compliance. My first job was an administrative position in a Colorado CPA firm — before I even knew what those letters stood for – and I have worked in all positions through partnership since then. I can realistically say I know the business from the bottom up.
BPM is one of the largest accounting and consulting firms based on the West Coast, serving businesses as well as individuals since 1986. BPM has extensive experience in manufacturing, food and wine, nonprofits, construction/real estate, technology and high net worth individuals. We are an employee-owned 400 person firm dedicated to client service and committed to the non-profit community.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share? After being away from it for a few years, I walked onto the jujitsu mat one evening to work out and celebrate a promotion. The skills and joy were still there.
What is your biggest challenge today? Trying to stay up with the constant tweaks to tax law. Trying to help clients plan for the future in an uncertain tax environment.
Words that best describe you: Loyal. Organized. Willing to quietly listen. Adventurous.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them? In my earliest days in the CPA world, there were very few professional women partners. I had no real role models. In fact, I was told by male bosses in the early days that, although I was very good at what I was doing, I should never strive to be a CPA; society would not accept it. … I persevered in my career, learned everything I could, took on more and more responsibility and proved them wrong.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years? We will have to be prepared to operate on a global scale, and that will bring challenges of understanding, cultural adaptation and flexibility.
Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: David Ryan, my former partner in Ryan Fritsche & Company. David was the first person who believed so much in my skills that he convinced me I should believe in myself. There was a real turning point in my career when he left for vacation and turned over the finalization of a large business sale to me. Fortunately, all went well! David also taught me that being a CPA is not about numbers, but about the client, personal relationships and service.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today? This is a difficult, demanding profession. Be prepared for long hours and considerable stress. Get your experience and CPA license before your life becomes too complicated. But do know that if you are dedicated, the skills you learn – personal and professional – will take you anywhere you wish to go. Believe in yourself and don’t take a back seat to anyone.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Kim Marois, estate planning attorney. Kim is one of the most brilliant, hard working persons I have ever met. Without ego. She also knows how to let go of the office occasionally and enjoy life.
Current reading: A biography of Catherine the Great. Sherlock Holmes. Archaeology and Smithsonian. Travel guide for Kauai.
Most want to meet: Michelle Obama.
Stress relievers: Walking through the Paradise Ridge sculpture garden. Hiking through a new Sonoma County outdoor vista. Climbing the hills above Bodega Bay.
Favorite hobbies: Dabbling. Dreaming. Given the time, some traveling, some kayaking, some adventures.
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