When I first got out of college, I went to work for a local CPA firm and found that I hated it. There was never an opportunity to get to know my clients, they came in for 20 minutes a year and were gone again. I longed for the opportunity to put down roots, to expand my relationships with people, to be more than just a tax professional.
I had an awesome client at the time, Gerry, who recommended me to his buddy, Dewey, for a permanent position with a local company. That was a grand day and a turning point in my career. I remember the interview with Dwain (aka Dewey) like it was yesterday, he asked a few questions, let me talk about my goals and sent me on my way. I wanted the job bad, for a lot of reasons. Then I waited, and waited, and didn’t get a call back. I finally got up the nerve to call him to see if they had filled the position. Dwain’s response was what has become known to me as classic to him, “I’ve been meaning to call you, when can you start?” Dwain’s management style falls along the lines that if something is broken, he has good people around him who will take the initiative to fix it. Nothing really requires immediate action by him. This is a style that has worked exceptionally well for him, he has surrounded himself with not just good, but exceptional people.
I started working on June 6, 1988 – Twenty-three plus years later, I’m retiring. The years have been good to me. I started in Internal Audit, there had been a defalcation at the company and an audit plan needed to be developed to combat that temptation. My job titles and roles never disappeared once I got them, I just added more on, eventually I was the Controller, then the Corporate Financial Officer, and finally the Chief Financial Officer. I’m now a Consultant, the big job has been turned over to someone else. It’s perfect for me.
Eight years ago, I told my bosses when I was retiring, hell, I told everyone. I remember the advice of a great colleague, although I didn’t take it. Sandy told me, “you can’t tell people that, they will start to dismiss you.” Well, fortunately for me, they never did that. They continued to give me opportunities to shine. I set my retirement date based on when my last child was graduating from high school. She did that last May, I knew that if I worked until September 15, 2011 I would have enough vacation time to get me through the end of the year. So when anyone asked, that’s what I told them, September 15, 2011. Who knew it would actually get here?
It hasn’t worked quite as neatly as I imagined, but it’s close. I just took my vacation time throughout the year instead of saving it up for just a single period. I now have eight more working days until I retire. My plan to retire when Haley graduated was based on my belief that I could be good at something else besides being an accountant. I thrive on what I do, I’ve been given great challenges and great responsibilities, but I’m pretty sure I can be good at something else too. But with what my job paid, they deserved 100% of my time and attention, it wouldn’t be fair to pursue something else while working on their dime. So leave I must.
I have loved the opportunities that have been given to me, I love the people I have come to know. I love the challenges that have been presented and the things that I have learned. My career has been with First American Title and I stand proud to have been one of the people who have helped shape the company and who has benefited from working for such a great company. I know that I leave the company in good hands, an executive team that always looks out for the company first. There are too many people to thank for being my friends and colleagues (I know I would miss someone important), but as a whole, I want to say, thanks for a great ride.