Rae Ann Paulson of Moss Adams’ Santa Rosa office wins Women in Business award

Rae Paulson, assurance senior manager, Moss Adams LLP, Santa Rosa

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Rae Ann Paulson has been with Moss Adams for 10 years. Her work is primarily with the wine industry and follows a pattern.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I’ve been with Moss Adams for 10 years. Prior to that I worked at a small firm in San Rafael for 1.5 years.

EDUCATION: B.S., health science, Saint Mary’s College of California, 1999; MBA (including accounting training), Sonoma State University, 2005.

Moss Adams is a full service CPA firm, offering tax, assurance, and consulting services. It is a Western Regional firm with approximately 25 offices on or near the west coast. Within the greater bay area region we have over 400 staff. I work in our Santa Rosa office and specialize primarily in the wine industry, providing audit and review services to our clients. There is a lot of camaraderie amongst our team, and we spend a lot of time together in and outside of work, attending networking functions, playing on our Moss Adams softball team, and having fun at a number of events the office puts on throughout the year. Outside of work, I live in Sebastopol with my boyfriend and our two dogs. I love to play golf, spend time at our home away from home in Truckee, and host get togethers with family and friends, enjoying good food and wine.

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO

Last year I was a recipient of the NBBJ’s 40 Under 40 award. I was a speaker at the Wine Industry Symposium on the Central Coast (Central Coast Insights). I also took on the role of recruiting leader for our North Bay office.

WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

What I am most proud of is accelerating through my career, advancing through Moss Adams personally but also building up others, building a great team and mentoring people along the way.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?

The biggest challenge I face being a leader within my office is making sure that we are developing people in order to allow them for a long-term sustainable career in public accounting. Helping people figure out how to have the lifestyle our staff want, do what it takes to be successful in public accounting, and also consider what works for the economics of our business, can be difficult but we continue to work hard to find the right mix.

WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Outgoing, genuine, loyal, smart, hard-working.

AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Very generally speaking, women, including myself, often tend to want more balance in their lives outside of work than many of their male counterparts or the experienced men leading their companies. Making sure I worked hard enough to provide value to my firm and to gain experiences to continue climbing the ladder, but also maintaining the work-life balance I desired, was something I worried about early on, wondering if it was possible. Over the years I have learned that I am completely supported in this endeavor by Moss Adams. I have been realistic about the time and effort that is needed to excel in my profession, but also am not necessarily always the first one in the office or the last to leave every day, yet have continued progressing toward partner, and feel I have the respect of my peers and also bosses.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

The biggest change I hope to see is that I will be a partner.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?

I would say to work hard and know you are getting in to a challenging profession where a lot will be asked of you, to put in the effort to go above and beyond and take early opportunities to start building leadership qualities, but at the same time to communicate about workload and stress level, to build relationships with supervisors and mentors so that you feel supported and have an outlet during the tough times.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?

Several of the partners I work with are great mentors. Ironically, many of my other mentors have been women I worked for at Moss Adams who are no longer with the firm. I learned a lot about what to do to be successful in public accounting from these women. Also, through observing their situations and their decisions to move on, I learned a lot about what to do differently if I wanted to continue my career within the firm rather than elsewhere.

TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: This is the tale of two seasons. Between January through April or May, may days I am out on site at clients with the audit team, working with clients and with our team to complete the audit work. The hours are longer, and there is some limitation on flexibility in order to meet client expectations and schedules.

Outside of that time frame, the days are shorter, and are mostly all in the office. The hours are more flexible, and there is a larger balance of non-client related or administrative type work, counseling, recruiting, office administration, and so on, mixed in with the client-related work.

During this time of year I am more focused on connecting with my team, mentoring (and being mentored), networking, checking in with clients, and more.

BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: Specializing in the wine industry, almost any time I am working out of the office on site at a client it is a treat. We work in a beautiful location, in a great industry and with great people. I cannot complain about those commutes! However, a close second is when I can work from home with a dog by my side.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: Golf and softball.