Meet our Members
This feature spotlights members of ISCPA, their career path, and some fun and favorite things about them. These siblings all followed a path to CPA careers and are with one firm.
Taylor Reis Richmond
How has your background and experience shaped who you are today? I have always, and still continue, to learn and grow from my experiences and failures. I graduated from Simpson College with a double major in international business and Spanish. I spent my last semester studying abroad in Argentina, which ignited my passion for travel. After graduating, I moved back to South America and lived in Brazil teaching English. After my visa expired, I came back and didn’t know what to do.
I spent time in Des Moines as a server and bartender while searching for the job that would kickstart my career. I then moved to Chicago to pursue my dream of being an international businesswoman. After three months of applying for jobs, I moved back in with my parents in Mediapolis, IA, unsuccessful.
As I was bartending one day, a regular connected me with the president of a small, local bank. I was hired as a loan officer but ended up being more of a project coordinator. I had never worked in banking or finance and really enjoyed it. However, my career in finance had to be put on hold since I had applied and later was accepted to the Peace Corps. I was assigned to teach English in Kaili, Guizhou, the poorest province in China.
I immersed myself in every facet of the culture: I became a connoisseur of Kaili’s specialty dish - suan tang (sour soup), directed a small a cappella choir called K-Vox, and held office hours with my students whenever I could.
Spending time outside of the U.S. taught me how to adapt to new situations, pick up on both social cues and new information quickly, and find creative, alternative solutions to problems. I also became excellent at charades.
After my service ended, I returned to the U.S. determined to get a specialized degree that would build upon my experience in the finance sector. I applied to the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program at the University of Southern California and graduated with an offer to join KPMG as an audit associate.
Later, as I worked my way up to senior associate, those adaptation skills were vital to my success. I was constantly learning about a variety of client business processes and creatively adapting our audit plan to fit the design of the company. I also sat down with CFOs to gently ask probing questions, gauging their responses carefully. My time abroad prepared me well for these corporate dances and I wouldn’t have been ready to succeed without those experiences.
The moral of my story is that life isn’t neat and tidy like an Excel spreadsheet. All you can do is keep trying different things, traveling different places, and learning new skills until you find something that fits. Don’t be afraid to live abroad or move to a new city. These experiences, even if they don’t turn out how you expected in the moment, will help prepare you for success in the future.
Have you had any mentors who helped/influenced you along the way? Definitely! Dr. Sarah Bonner, my favorite professor from USC, Chris Grimm, the president of that local bank, and Ben Neidhardt, my manager at KPMG, have all been wonderful mentors to me throughout my career. And of course, my mom, who has been my strongest and longest standing mentor.
What message do you have for high school and college kids about a career as a CPA? It is highly underrated. Forget all the stereotypes. I remember thinking accounting would be boring, but I met some of my wildest friends in public accounting. Private accounting is also a great option if you value work-life balance.
See past Member Spotlight features: