How would you describe your job to someone who has no idea what you do?
I’m an accountant, but my job is never boring! I oversee a diverse group responsible for technical accounting and reporting; internal controls; and expense management, planning and analysis. Ultimately, we are all supporting the same objectives—to prepare complete and accurate financial results, and to provide useful information to help executives make the best decisions for our business.
How did you get into your line of work?
I was originally a political science major in college. I was taking business prerequisites at the time, and my professor pulled me aside to tell me that I was an accountant—and if I didn’t pursue accounting, it would be a huge mistake. I added an accounting major, got a job in public accounting, joined Symetra a few years later, and as it turns out ... he was right. Thanks, Professor Wells!
What skills do you use most in your job?
Communication: I communicate with all levels, from helping train new staff to providing updates to executives and our board of directors.
Project Management: I’m constantly defining what needs to be done, determining who should be involved, developing timelines and communicating status … then, of course, managing through the inevitable changes.
Professional Skepticism: Trust but verify! I need to make sure that I’ve asked the right questions, looked at the right resources, and gathered (and documented) the appropriate support for our work.
How does your job help Symetra’s customers, your coworkers or the company?
We make sure our results are accurate and in compliance with applicable rules and regulations to avoid potentially costly fines, restatements and damage to the company’s reputation.
As a director, my goal is to help future Finance leaders grow and challenge themselves. It’s a total mind shift, going from accomplishing my own tasks to being responsible for others accomplishing theirs, but now I find myself trying to do it everywhere. I’m sure my husband wishes I weren’t quite so “helpful” with my feedback at home.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Always raise your hand—volunteer for the project. Ask the question. You’re investing your time and energy in building a portfolio of skills that will make you more valuable wherever you go. Set the bar high for yourself, and you’ll inevitably exceed the expectations of others.
What would people find most surprising about your job or Symetra?
I’m an accountant, but I rarely do math! (I also cannot do your taxes. Sorry, Mom.)