07 2024 CPAmerica Advantage Newsletter

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News from your accounting association

Cooking Up Success: From Chef to Accounting Firm Partner

During last month’s Next Generation (NextGen) Conference, we featured the partner panel, Creating Your Opportunities. One of the three panelists was Sam Latimer, partner with Rushton, headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia.

Latimer has been with Rushton for the last 12 years, starting out as a staff accountant. He is now a government and nonprofit audit partner. Prior to his career as a CPA, Latimer started working as a chef after attending culinary school immediately following high school graduation. After several years working in restaurants, Latimer experienced some life changes and decided to go back to school to study accounting.

July 2024 IN THIS ISSUE:

► Cooking Up Success: From Chef to Accounting Firm Partner

► Preferred Provider Spotlight - Align Global Consulting

► Tax Conference

► Member News

► CPAmerica Insights –Grace Horvath

“In the kitchen, you’re always working as hard as possible, but it can be more cutthroat, and chefs can be mean sometimes,” said Latimer. “The best thing about both of these careers is they are both people-oriented and relationshiporiented. I’m able to use some of the skills I had in managing people in the kitchen in my role at Rushton.”

Latimer shares that the work ethic he developed working as a chef has influenced how he works now, with a mentality of rolling up your sleeves and just doing the work.

Some may find surprising parallels between being a chef and working in accounting. For example, both fields require a certain amount of creativity. Latimer shared that for him, creativity in accounting is in finding the solutions, rather than as a chef, the creativity is the final product.

both careers. When you’re in public accounting, you have to enjoy the chaos a little bit. It’s a lot of hard work and is super rewarding, but you’ve got to be a little crazy to do this career,” laughed Latimer.

Additionally, working in and managing a kitchen helped prepare Latimer for being a partner at his firm.

“I got into accounting totally by accident,” said Latimer. “As I was about to become a father, I realized that working every evening and holiday wasn’t going to be the best way to be involved in my son’s life, so I had this great idea to go back to real school and get a management degree or something with a more normal schedule.”

Upon entering business school and deciding he was looking for more of a challenge, Latimer chose to specialize in accounting. Although he knew nothing about accounting, the classes were difficult and he had to buckle down, he ultimately never looked back as he pursued his new career.

While not directly related, his time working in the restaurant industry helped to shape him into the CPA he is today with lessons learned and from skills managing and working with people.

“In the kitchen, you’re creating something and making it your own, whereas in accounting you’re taking some data and information to figure out how to get it presented in the way that you want,” said Latimer. “In both fields, it really comes down to being creative with your mind about the methodology of how you’re going to get there, but in accounting you’re a bit more rigid in how it must be presented. At the end of the day, it’s all problem solving.”

Another transferable skill is multitasking in a chaotic environment. Latimer shares memories of the kitchen with tickets flying, working out issues and the ultimate goal of getting the food out to the patrons. He shares the similarities in accounting, hopping from one meeting to the next, dealing with staffing issues and going into an RFP to bid.

“There are so many different hats to wear in

“Being able to see the numbers and the financial analysis, I learned later on that I was practicing that stuff in the restaurants, making decisions to cut folks lose, being aware of food costs and more. Now I see that and I’m able to apply some of that information as a partner in the CPA firm, which is kind of odd that you would learn that in your restaurant career.”

As the accounting industry continues experiencing staffing shortages, some firms are getting more creative with the students and potential employees they are pursuing. At Rushton, they’ve started a summer leadership program called Echelon, intended for rising students who are pursuing a degree in accounting while looking to start their careers and build solid relationships for the future.

“We are thinking outside the box and a lot of times when you see people who are not necessarily in accounting, but you can tell they had that ‘go-get-it’ kind of attitude, you know what, let’s give them a shot,” said Latimer.

If you have any questions about Sam Latimer’s time as a chef or Rushton’s Echelon program, please contact slatimer@rushton.cpa.

Interview with Sam Latimer, Rushton
Sam Latimer

Preferred Provider Spotlight Align Global Consulting

With offices in the United States and Europe, Align Global Consulting (Align) is a law firm that helps clients expand globally or improve existing operations by providing creative legal and tax solutions to address commercial, trade, investment and regulatory matters.

Align assists enterprises in all stages of growth, from emerging growth companies to the Fortune 100. Align’s team is comprised of lawyers, accountants and economists with extensive experience in “Big 4” accounting

firms or large, global law firms. While these professionals bring this prestigious pedigree, each has chosen to serve clients within a smaller, entrepreneurial framework. Align believes that clients are better served in this model, as it enables the firm to provide tailored and “rightsized” solutions to clients in a flexible manner. Simply put, the Align team has the knowledge and insight to help businesses achieve global expansion plans while maintaining a commitment to the lost art of one-on-one client service.

2024 Tax Conference

Fajardo, Puerto Rico | November 10-13 El Conquistador Resort

For more information, visit www.alignglobalconsulting.com or email Sean King at sking@ alignglobalconsulting.com. Scan here to register

Meet us in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, for tropical breezes, beautiful beaches and outstanding tax content. The 2024 Tax Conference will be held November 10-13 at El Conquistador Resort. Your annual meeting is where you’ll learn the latest industry trends, earn CPE, and share best practices. You’ll also have the opportunity to build relationships with your fellow CPAmerica colleagues and our Preferred Providers.

Featuring these influential speakers and more:

Sean King, Align Global Consulting | Sam Donaldson, Georgia State University College of Law | Steve Platau, University of Tampa | Jordan Goodman, Horwood Marcus & Berk Chartered | Jim Hamill, Reynolds, Hix & Co., PA | Randy Johnston, NMGI | Heath Alloway, Upstream Academy, LLC

Be sure to book your hotel guestroom before October 16

Anglin Reichmann Armstrong welcomes new partner, Heidi Alles, in

Central Florida


accounting. Prior to joining ARB, Donahue began her career and worked for ten years at a Big Four public accounting firm in Boston, Massachusetts, where she advised both public and private audit clients.

Anglin ReichmAnn ARmstRong, P.c is pleased to welcome Heidi Alles, CPA, MST, as a new partner in Central Florida, effective June 10. Alles will join the Winter Haven office to focus on government contracting as well as efficient tax planning and wealth accumulation for closely held business owners and individuals with complex needs. Alles offers more than 30 years of experience in public accounting and advisory services, from her early career with top-tier firms to leading her own business advisory and tax firm. Alles’s work has spanned the U.S. She holds active CPA licenses in Oregon, North Carolina and Florida. She received both her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and her Masters in Taxation from Portland State University. “We feel fortunate adding Heidi to our executive team at this time; our strategy is to grow the tax, business and wealth planning solutions that serve government contractors and the larger business community in Central Florida,” said Eric Adamson, Winter Haven’s Partner-In-Charge. “Heidi understands the multi-state tax issues that many of our clients face, whether they are transferring wealth or building their businesses. She can guide clients and our team in those ongoing conversations.” Alles is looking forward to mentoring and developing professionals at Anglin, having managed teams in a senior management role or as an owner for most of her career. Joining Anglin as a partner is an investment she is excited to make, she said. “I feel tremendously privileged to join such a fantastic group of professionals.”

Randall & Bennett

welcomes Logan Donahue, CPA, to the firm

Albin, RAndAll & bennett (ARb) is pleased to announce that Logan D. Donahue, CPA, has joined the firm as audit senior manager. Donahue provides professional assurance services for businesses ranging from small tech start-ups to multinational corporations in the healthcare, life sciences, and consumer and industrial markets. She is a graduate of Bentley University where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in

CironeFriedberg’s Tiffany Ottani, CPA, wins 40 Under Forty Award

Tiffany Ottani, CPA, a supervisor at ciRoneFRiedbeRg, llP, joins the prestigious list of accomplished alumni of the 2024 Fairfield County 40 Under Forty award. The award recipients were announced and celebrated on June 13 at The Point at Norwalk Cove, in Norwalk, Conn.

Ottani completed her Bachelor of Science in Accounting at the University of Bridgeport and a Master of Science in Accounting and an Advanced Business Certificate in Accounting Analytics at the University of Connecticut. She is a Certified Public Accountant in Connecticut and a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Delta Mu Delta international honor societies. Ottani joined the regional accounting firm of CironeFriedberg, LLP, as an Intern in 2020 and was hired full-time as a staff accountant in 2021. She was promoted to senior accountant and then to her current position of supervisor. She provides accounting and tax services for business and individual clients. Prior to joining the firm, she worked for 15 years in a service business learning the importance of building success through customer service and referrals. Tony Cirone, CironeFriedberg’s managing partner, says “We are very proud of Tiffany and happy to celebrate this well-deserved award with her.” He adds, “Tiffany’s commitment to our clients is unparalleled. She is a strong leader and an inspiration to her peers.”

and children. It is employer-led change to increase access to research-based, familyfriendly practices — big and small — that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children’s healthy development. “We are so proud that DMJPS not only offers the support and benefits of a family-first organization but also actively participates in the larger movement of forward-thinking employers,” said Mike Gillis, DMJPS CEO. “By becoming a Family Forward NC Certified Employer, we join an innovative initiative. Our commitment to providing family-friendly workplace benefits reflects our core values and our dedication to fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.” Additionally, DMJPS is pleased to welcome the following new team members. Mallorie Tart is a new tax associate in the Wilmington office. Audrey Cravenis a new tax associate in the Boone office. Evan Gassman, is a new tax manager in the Durham office. Jacquelyne Dickson is a new assurance senior associate in the Greensboro office. Noah Brabble is a new assurance associate in the Greensboro office. Hudson Wright is a new tax associate in the Greensboro office.

Thompson Greenspon Manager Tricia Neale earns the Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional (CCIFP) designation

DMJPS Named a Family Forward NC Certified Employer and welcomes new employees

dmJPs Pllc has been named a Family Forward NC Certified Employer by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s Family Forward NC initiative. DMJPS is a tax, assurance, and business advisory firm that routinely solves complex matters for privately-held businesses, organizations, and corporations with a wide range of specialized solutions. As a U.S. Top 200 firm, DMJPS employs 165+ employees and has seven office locations from the North Carolina mountains to the coast. A Family Forward NC Employer Certification designates employers that offer policies and practices that support the health and well-being of working families

thomPson gReensPon manager Tricia Neale is now among the most highly qualified construction financial professionals in the industry, having recently earned the Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional (CCIFP) designation. According to the Certification Division of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the CCIFP designation is “the only construction financial management certification accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB).” Neale joins an exclusive group of over 1,150 professionals nationwide who have met the rigorous standards of the CCIFP designation in the practice of construction financial management. She has a proven record of accomplishment, experience, and success, and is now counted among the most highly qualified construction financial professionals in the industry. The CCIFP is the only standard to recognize those financial professionals with a superior understanding of the construction industry’s financial opportunities and challenges.

Logan Donahue
Tricia Neale
Heidi Alles
Tiffany Ottani

Unlocking the Person Within: The Power of Personal Connections

Just like your firms, CPAmerica is in the people business. You might feel that people are your favorite part of your career. I certainly feel that way. They are the motivation for all the services and activities we hope result in happy people vested in relationships that have a positive impact on their business and their lives.

Often, we focus on clients, members, and other professionals with whom we are affiliated, but lose some emphasis on considering the people who work for us. We know the business does not succeed without stable staff and employees at all levels, but it is easy to approach those relationships as functional rather than personal. This month’s Advantage tells the story of a partner whom I once met when he was a manager attending our NextGen Conference and his life as a chef before becoming a CPA. It reminded me of just how interesting and surprising people are when you learn who they are beyond the professional you are hiring to perform a job.

Some of you may be familiar with John

Garrett, speaker and author of “What’s Your And?” who joined us in Park City, Utah, a few years back. His premise was when you “unlock the person within the professional” you “forge deeper loyalty and performance.” His message resonated with me because I recognize that my intentional effort to learn more about individuals often results in creating relationships I care about with people who are meaningful beyond the job. I probably came to this conclusion for different reasons than Garrett did.

As you know, I am not a CPA, and when I started at CPAmerica almost 13 years ago, I was careful not to pretend that I possessed knowledge of your technical skills. This led to staying quiet a lot of the time. My only resource to not appear clueless were the countless Google searches of acronyms, codes, and accounting slang I heard. Yet my job was dependent on building relationships that gave me the insight needed to meet your needs. The only way I saw to do that was to build rapport. I accomplished that by learning who you are besides accountants. I got to know equestrians, scuba divers, gardeners, chefs, radio show hosts, racecar drivers, musicians, parents, teachers, and more. Once I began to know the individuals, learning the profession and what you needed

came through the natural conversations and questions that occurred though building trust and taking a genuine interest in your lives.

My big role in the Visitation Improvement Program (VIP) is to interview non-partner professionals and staff. These conversations can be awkward with young staff or introverted individuals who would probably rather be digging a ditch in the hot sun than having to sit there and talk to me. While we do talk about their job and the firm, I love to spend some time learning about them personally. Those interviews provide me with so much more depth than only knowing if they think their budgets are reasonable or if they get enough CPE. They are more drawn out to have a candid conversation. And surprising to me is how often I return to the partner wrap up and find how little is known about what some of their most talented people are doing outside of their job.

You have excellent opportunities to make an impact on culture and retention when you establish authentic relationships. This is not to suggest crossing professional boundaries or intruding on someone’s personal life. But taking a genuine interest in truly knowing the people that work for you is a valuable investment in creating a human experience.

Boston, Massachusetts | September 24-27 Tax Conference

Fajardo, Puerto Rico | November 10-13 International Group Meeting Ft. Lauderdale, Florida | December 3-6


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