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It Figures: The CRI Podcast

S3:E2 – Count Yourself in to a Career in Tax Accounting

Did you choose tax accounting, or did tax accounting choose you? In this episode, CRI Human Capital Partner Sandi Guy sits down with Tanvi Gandhi, Holly Cefalu, and Seth Margolies to divulge the pros and cons of the daily life of a tax accountant and investigate the continued evolution of their career path.

Intro:

From Carr, Riggs & Ingram, this is It Figures: The CRI podcast, an accounting, advisory, and industry focused podcast for business and organization leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone who is looking to go beyond the status quo.

Sandi Guy:

Welcome to another episode of It Figures. My name is Sandi Guy, and I will be your host today, as we explore careers in tax. Today, I am joined by three of my favorite people within the firm in the tax field, who are going to talk to us a little bit about their own individual journey, how it’s changed during their tenure, their outlook, how they manage their tax career. So if you are a tax professional, just starting out, middle of your career or towards the end of your career like one of my guest, this podcast should resonate. So first let me introduce you to our panelists. We will start with Seth. Seth, do you want to take a minute and introduce yourself?

Seth Margolies:

Yes. Thanks Sandi. As you mentioned, I’m Seth Margolies, I’m a tax partner in the Dallas office. I’ve been with CRI for about, I think, nine years, we merged in four to five years ago. I have worked with Sandi for a long time. I’m a human capital chair in Dallas and part of Future Leaders and just happy to be here. So thanks for having me.

Sandi Guy:

Thank you. And Tanvi, do you want to introduce yourself?

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yes. Hi everyone. My name is Tanvi Gandhi. It is spelled as T-A-N-V-I, if the listeners want to look me up, but it’s pronounced as T-U-N-V-I, thank you, mom and dad. I’m the tax manager at our Raleigh office in North Carolina. I started working with CRI Nashville office in 2018 where we merged and then I moved to Raleigh and have been in the Raleigh office for the past two years.

Sandi Guy:

Very nice. Thank you for joining us today and last but not least Holly in New Orleans, that we are thrilled to death, that (Hurricane) Ida did not prevent you from being on this podcast, I’m very excited to let Holly introduce herself.

Holly Cefalu:

Hi, I’m Holly Cefalu. I am a tax staff out of New Orleans, like Sandi said, I started as an intern January 2019 and I’ve worked at the firm since and yeah.

Sandi Guy:

And has power and a roof over her head at the moment.

Holly Cefalu:

Yes, yes.

Sandi Guy:

So we’re happy about that. We’re definitely happy about that. So we’ll just dive in. I’ll say clearly, I’m not a tax practitioner and I’m always fascinated how people get into public accounting, but then how they choose their practice area, whether that’s audit or tax. So I’m curious how you got into public accounting, but specifically tax or did tax choose you. And I’ll start with our senior statesman, Seth. So Seth, way long ago, talk to us about how you got into public accounting.

Seth Margolies:

Do we have enough time Sandi?

Sandi Guy:

You can give us the cliff-notes version.

Seth Margolies:

Well, I think that, it’s kind of strange, even since high school, I knew I was going to be an accountant. I know that, that’s nerdy. I remember sitting around the dinner table and I was good at math and I asked my dad, “What can I do, that’s good with math?” And he said, either an engineer or an accountant. And I didn’t like chemistry, so I chose accounting and it’s just kind of how I roll. I just pick something and stick with it and go on down the road. And as far as audit or tax, I think I always knew that I wanted tax. I had a good tax teacher in college and I really just… It kind of latched on to me and I enjoyed it and I could relate to it just because it was individual tax. You could relate to it versus audit big companies, probably hard to relate as a college student. And so I think from there, I just always knew that I was going to be a super exciting, crazy, tax accountant.

Sandi Guy:

Mission accomplished. So Holly, so we’ll go from the senior statesman to the youngest member of the group.

Holly Cefalu:

Oh yeah.

Sandi Guy:

So how about you, did you jump right into it? Did you know sitting at the dinner table, it’s what you wanted to do or how did you get into public account?

Holly Cefalu:

Well, I actually went to college, I’ve always wanted to do something medical, but I went to college to pursue nursing and I got into nursing school and did clinicals and absolutely hated it. So then I had about three semesters left, took a year off, just continued to work and then I went back to school and got accounting degree. And I mean it took about seven years and I graduated with a ton of credits, but I’m definitely glad for the change. And as far as choosing public accounting, I mean I chose public accounting really for the experience and some flexibility and really learning and more exposure, I think.

Sandi Guy:

That’s a big leap from nursing, public accounting. That’s a big leap.

Holly Cefalu:

Very big, but it was great. I mean, when I went to business school and took my accounting classes and especially tax, it just clicked and it really… I enjoyed it and it really resonated well.

Sandi Guy:

So, like Seth, did you know you wanted to do tax or did you explore various other areas of practice?

Holly Cefalu:

I actually thought I wanted to do audit first, but I changed my mind in the recruiting process actually. So I interviewed for some audit internships first and then I interviewed for tax and I’m definitely glad I went with tax. I mean, I don’t know, the work of tax I think, interests me a little bit more than audit.

Sandi Guy:

Interesting. So, it’s the fall and we’ve been talking about universities, which means it’s football season. So I’m curious Tanvi, how did you get a start? Where did you go to school and how did you get into public accounting? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Tanvi Gandhi:

So, my starting out in accounting is kind of similar to Seth, wherein high school… I’m originally from India. We have to decide in high school, if we wanted to pursue a field related to science or a field related to commerce or business. I hated science. The last science exam I took was… I threw up the night before that. So that was the deciding factor that I couldn’t do chemistry or physics or biology. I couldn’t understand that either. So the other option was accounting or business. And once I started doing that, the last two years of high school, fell in love with it. You could tie the numbers, you know the answers, you do well in your exams. It was perfect. It was perfect for me. And I’m a little OCD about numbers and everything. So it worked out.

As far as tax or audit. I did do an internship that involved some audit work with a few different types of clients and no offense to the auditors, but I hated it. I didn’t see myself doing that, but I’m glad I was able to do that, because everyone at some point is at that gate of whether to choose audit or tax. Experienced audit first and yeah, took tax classes in my masters and loved it. Loved how you play around the rules and think about how to benefit your client, get the maximum benefits. And that’s how I ended up choosing tax because it was very fascinating to me.

Sandi Guy:

Also I’m curious Tanvi, because you mentioned you’re from India and I happen to know you’re a CPA. So did you come to the U.S. for school and then get certified here?

Tanvi Gandhi:

So, I mean, that could be a long answer. As I said I’m-

Sandi Guy:

It’s okay, we’ve got time.

Tanvi Gandhi:

I’m originally from India. I finished my undergrad masters and chartered accountancy, which is the CPA equivalent over there. I did all of that back in India and started working as an assistant manager in a national bank. I worked there for about a year and a half, but even after finishing all of that, I still wanted to explore some more and wanted to learn more about the education system and professional careers in another country. So I joined masters of accounting program at City University of New York, Baruch college, and got my CPA six months after graduation.

Sandi Guy:

Well done. Well done.

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yeah.

Sandi Guy:

That was no easy task.

Tanvi Gandhi:

Of course, my time in India and my education in India helped a lot with that, but it was a really great experience. It still is.

Sandi Guy:

Well, so that’s interesting. So, one of the things that I think is cool about all of the roles in public accounting and tax’s no exception to this, are all the different specialties. I’ve always said if I ever went into being a practitioner, I would do forensic accounting. I think it’s part of my addiction to True Crime that I would love to get in and do that. So I’m just curious about specialties. So Seth do you have any specialties and if so, how did you choose them or evolve into those?

Seth Margolies:

Yeah, so just being on the Dallas market, we do a lot of real estate clients. And so I do a lot of real estate and then I also work with a lot of doctors and lawyers. They have some similarities, but those personal service corporations I handle. And then as you know, we helped kickstart the SALT group, state and local tax group, and that probably came up about a year ago, 10 to 12 months ago. And that goes back to my early days, you called me the senior statesman a couple times. Back when I was at Ernst & Young, I was in the SALT group for a while, doing restructuring for Walmart and various companies. And so I think that’s always kind of stuck with me for a while. I knew I didn’t want to do that way back when, but now, what is it, 15, 18 years later, it’s kind of come back and maybe it’s a little more exciting, it’s different, it’s new, a opportunity to help grow CRI, so I’ve enjoyed it.

Sandi Guy:

It’s been a great way to coordinate efforts across our frat camp, for sure. So what about you Tanvi, you’re a manager, usually around when somebody is senior or manager, they start getting embedded in a specialty. Any specialties on your part?

Tanvi Gandhi:

Good question, and short answer is not yet. I’m currently working on a lot of paycheck protection program and employee retention credit projects for my clients, which you know, these projects came up because of COVID. Love, love doing that. I would like to consider that to be my specialty for now, however these are temporarily, but otherwise I have been trying to pick a specialty all through my career and I’m not going to say I failed, but I’m kind of liking to work on all kinds of projects and learn about different kind of industries. North Carolina, we have five offices, so there’s a whole lot of industries that we serve. Because the industries in Raleigh are not the same as industry in the eastern North Carolina offices. So, I mean, I kind of like that. But I don’t know down the line, I may choose something.

Sandi Guy:

It’s always interesting, I think most people, I find… Some people do say, I want to do tax and I don’t know, I want to do expat or I want to do SALT or whichever specialty it is. But it’s interesting that people tend to evolve in it when they’re, much like Holly, in your first, second, third, fourth year and you’re getting exposure to a little bit of everything. That’s where you find… You know Tanvi, I giggle when you said you threw up, we don’t want you doing any work that’s going to make you throw up. But that’s where you find the stuff that you really enjoy and that hits. And some of the silver lining, I guess you could say, to the pandemic is that people have had the opportunity to work in a variety of areas, much like you did with some of the PPP and all that stuff that came out and to really get that exposure. But… Go ahead.

Seth Margolies:

I was just going to say, Sandi, I called our good friend, Scott Bailey a month ago and I had a question about the ERC, the Employer Retention Credit, and he’s like, “I’m not the person that can answer that, but we have an expert,” and it happened to be Tanvi, and then this happened a week or two later. So, yes, you are considered a expert in a field as you mentioned though. I think I can relate back to, with the not having a expertise or what’s your niche because, oh my gosh growing up that’s… What’s going to be your specialty? What’s going to be your specialty? It’s always embedded. And I still feel like, am I still finding my specialty? I’d be a hundred looking for my specialty, but you’ll find… I used to handle our TPA practice, our pensions and profit sharing. And so, had somebody in here last night, trying to ask questions about that and so you gain these little expertise from various things.

And I think grabbing on to those things that come up, like the COVID relief, and the PPP and the ERC are great things. There’s a partner in the Florida office and I swear she is on top of everything that comes out. I have no idea how she handles it, but she does it and I think she does it well. So I think that’s probably, definitely, I mean, perhaps that’s your expertise, you just don’t know it yet. Just grabbing onto these things that come out, because I really think those are the leaders of the firm, that want to reach out and grab onto something just like you did.

Sandi Guy:

Yeah. Ann-Marie is who he is referring to. And I believe Ann-Marie’s probably even done a couple episodes of It Figures, but Ann-Marie’s, yeah I agree with you. She in our tax practice has her hands in a little bit of everything and I too wonder how does she do this and serve her clients, she’s on so many committees. So with that, let’s talk about the work-life balance of a tax professional for a minute because it’s up until about two years ago, the tax profession, you pretty much knew those times during the year. And depending on what type of tax work you did, you had maybe two or three busy seasons or deadlines you were focused on. And what’s been one of the not so silver linings of the pandemic is since January 2020, it’s been a nonstop busy season with a vengeance.

I feel like our tax folks just haven’t had a break, that they over their lifetime have been used to having, there are certain summer months that you could take time off and be with the family. So I’m curious having gone through now almost two years of nonstop, busy season, how you all manage your personal and professional life and you know what, Holly, I’m actually going to start with you because, one, how long you’ve been working. I don’t think you know a time when it’s not a busy season and then you throw Ida on top of it and there’s a hurricane, how are you managing the stuff in your personal life and your professional life? And then I ask you to podcast with me. [Laughing]

Holly Cefalu:

It’s definitely, I mean, I don’t know any different, so yeah. I mean just managing time well, and keeping busy throughout the year and trying to prioritizing things, that’s been definitely the biggest learning curve for me is prioritizing. And being honest about what you can do, what needs to be moved and things like that. And that’s really…

Sandi Guy:

That’s so important and often times when people say, “Sandi, I’m about to hit burnout. I’m overworked.” And usually when I ask them, “Okay, well, did you talk to your partner about that? And what did they say?” “Oh, I feel bad. They’re overworked. I don’t want to burn them.” “Well, if they don’t know that you’re overworked, they can’t help you get out of it. And maybe the two of you can work together.” And I get it. But I love that you say, being honest about where you are at the work you’re in, and managing the work you have, because so many times people, whether it’s prideful or I don’t want to bother my partner or my manager, whoever it is. That open communication, don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to make all of it go away, but you can’t manage it unless you’re doing that.

Holly Cefalu:

Yeah. And I’ve learned that, even all your managers and partners, being honest with everybody. I’ll do different work for different partners, and I’ll be like, “Okay, this is what I have on my plate. I can get to this in the next couple of days. Is that okay with you?” And kind of go on from there and that’s… I think it’s great for me because I can plan out my day and plan out my week and prioritize things. But it’s also good for them too, because they know where their stuff is and they don’t have to search for it.

Sandi Guy:

So Tanvi, I’m curious, especially because I believe correct me if I’m wrong, you were promoted to manager last year, so you’re just finishing your first full year as a manager. So kind of curious if there’s any difference in how you’re managing the load. I’m going to assume, because as we just talked about a few minutes ago, you’re one of the top performers in the practice area there, but so how are you managing it? And is there a difference from when you were a senior to now being a manager?

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yeah. I mean, there is a huge difference. I’m managing a lot more clients, dealing with a lot more clients, dealing with other offices and all of that, but as far as managing personal and professional life goes, I did make a change in my professional life recently, I went from full time to flextime or part-time, working a little bit less than I’m used to.

Sandi Guy:

I was about to say, we say part-time, but you’re still working a lot. It’s not like you’re working 10 hours.

Tanvi Gandhi:

No, it’s just, it took the pressure off of getting to 40 hours, that’s pretty much it. But so last year, the reason why I did this, last year around this time, my husband and I both got COVID. My symptoms physically weren’t as bad as my husbands, but I lost… He was more sick than I was. I lost my sense of taste and smell, which was a major thing, I haven’t gotten it back yet.

Sandi Guy:

Oh my.

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yes. So that experiencing what the world was experiencing, the pandemic and all of that, made me realize the fragility of life. We were very new to Raleigh at that time, so don’t have any social support, not that many friends yet, haven’t been able to explore anything. Plus my work was mostly involved with helping clients that were brutally affected by the pandemic. All of that got a little to me, my husband, he’s a physician and his job is as stressful and long hours, more than me. So I took a minute and analyzed and I’m like, “What should I do? How can I make it better?” So that long term health’s not affected and just thinking long term. And I just analyzed and I was like, should I look for somewhere else where I could go, reduce the hours or should I change careers, go to private accounting or something.

I was like, let me just talk to my advisor, the partner here, David, I just talked to him and I was like, “I know CRI has a program. And I would love to do that if that’s a possibility, because I love the job.” And he right away said, of course, that can be done. All the stress went away and we got into the transition, it took a little bit to transition and get adjusted to it. I was leaving at 3:00, I’m like, what am I supposed to do now? I’m used to leaving at 5:30 or 6:00, but then leaving at 3:00, I’m like, I don’t know what to do.

Sandi Guy:

Kind of like Talladega Nights, where he’s like, “I don’t know what do with my hands.” I don’t know what to do with… The sun is out and I’m out on a Wednesday. What do you do?

Tanvi Gandhi:

Exactly, yeah. But that helped a lot. I mean, I could make this change without looking for another job or anything. And of course I love working here, and everyone in the office, in the practice unit, was very supportive and assured me that nothing’s going to change, like your role, responsibilities, seniority, promotions, or my overall position is going to stay the same even with reduced hours. So I was like, being able to hold the same position and do the same work that I love for reduced hours, seemed like the best of both worlds to me.

Sandi Guy:

And you know, it’s so interesting, what’s going on in our industry right now. And I don’t think it’s just public accounting. I think we all see the news and it’s happening in a lot of industries where the pandemic has made people say, “You know what, I don’t want to do this anymore.” Whatever that is, “I want to do something else or I want to do it differently.” And when there’s a term going around right now, called the Great Resignation, about people resigning in mass and leaving and sure some people leave one employer, stay within the same industry and go to another. But oftentimes when you talk to people as they’re leaving, if you had just had that open conversation, like what you had with David, you can manage it. I’ll be honest with you, Tanvi, when you got on David’s calendar, he called me in a panic.

Sandi Guy:

“Tanvi wants to talk and I’m so nervous.” And I was like “Well, just talk to her and start with yes, don’t start with no, don’t start with maybe just start with yes. Just understand where she’s at and what she needs and I’m sure we can find a way to make it work.” And we did. And it’s unfortunate, because right now I think a lot of people, no matter what their profession is, if they don’t see it, because Tanvi, I don’t believe anybody else is on a flex schedule in your office, I don’t think.

Tanvi Gandhi:

No. There were somebody, but I think they left.

Sandi Guy:

Yeah. But oftentimes people think if I don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist, which that’s not true. And so we’re always trying to encourage our partners, talk to your employees one on one and just ask them, how are things going and check in so you can have, like Holly was talking about, just that open and honest dialogue. So I will say it’s not just the women who struggle with managing it all, I know the men do too. And I know the gentleman on this podcast with us, has had a lot going on in his life right now. So I’m curious Seth with selling a house and moving into a temporary house and all these things you have going on, your son being bar mitzvahed, congratulations, by the way. So with everything going on and being part of the leadership team in Dallas, you good? You managing okay? How you holding it all together?

Seth Margolies:

Not sure. Before we talk about that, I just wanted to echo what you were saying to Tanvi, I was going to say that, almost verbatim what you were going to say, but to sum it up, just yeah communication, that’s all. I bet it’s like 95% of the people wouldn’t do what you did just to be able to communicate and to express your feelings and see if we can work with one another, versus this Great Resignation that some of it potentially could be avoided. So just commending you on what you did, because we’re glad to have you.

But how am I coping with the pandemic, yeah it’s definitely a lot, all those things you mentioned are happening. And I think Holly’s said, she said, she doesn’t know anything different, well, I definitely know something different. I’ve been doing it a while, but I think it’s just the… When I was in a fraternity, I don’t know if it was their motto or just quote during hell week or whatever it was. But they used to say, “Cope and adapt,” which sounds a little rough, but I mean, it’s kind of what you do or what we’ve been doing with the pandemic. We’ve just kind of been adapting to what’s going on and figuring out, exactly what Tanvi was saying is this, how can you still stay happy and enjoy life while dealing with all these issues, which is definitely difficult.

When I was at a Big 4 firm, I remember seeing the partners and senior managers and how many hours they worked and their, what I felt like at the time, was a lack of work-life balance. And I knew that, that just wasn’t something that I wanted to do. And I’ll skip a few positions in between and just kind of come over when I interviewed at Vogel, which merged with CRI. I remember interviewing with Eric Lee and Randy Lokey and it was very work-life balance. Had a good work-life balance feel. We were like 40, 50 people, but Eric says that everyone is involved with their kids, Eric and Randy, and makes it to whether it’s dance or soccer or whatever. And I knew that that is how I was, and that’s how I wanted to be. So I knew it was a good fit and so I’m able to do those things with my kids as much as possible.

And I just feel like through the pandemic, you still just try and make it. You just keep the ball rolling, keep doing what you need to do, adapt to everything. But every now and then you have to do what Tanvi did and said, “Okay, am I still happy?” What needs to change besides me getting out of this rental house that I can’t do anything about, there’s certain things in life that you just can’t do anything about. And if you understand that and you don’t let it eat you up, you can enjoy life a little bit better, as this pandemic hopefully comes to an end in the near future.

Sandi Guy:

Knock on wood. So Seth, you can remember back when with tax, but again Holly, you said, “I don’t know any different, this is what it is”, but I’m curious Holly, so when you made that ginormous leap from medical to… That still amazes me, that’s a big leap. But when you made that leap and you were in school and you start forming this vision of what you think your career early on will be like, what your day to day life will be like, I’m curious, what is, this is exactly what I was expecting and or this part is nothing like I was expecting. So any surprises now that you’re a couple years in? Or things that, “oh, I completely expected this.”

Holly Cefalu:

I think the working remotely as much as I do, was kind of surprising. I didn’t expect that, I guess, out of school, but I like that we’re able to do it. I like being in the office, but having the tools to do that, if you have something going on or you’re not feeling well or whatever, to do it, you know work from home. And really the pandemic made all of us really become good at working remotely. Because I mean that was my first full-time busy season. So I had to learn how to use our resources to work remote and still learn things from seniors and managers, even partners while working from home. So it’s been a change, but a welcome one.

Sandi Guy:

I would say this to my other two panelists. Yeah. Raise your hand, if you too were surprised at how much you’re working remote nowadays and what that’s like. I think it has been a much needed, I’m not saying we needed the pandemic, but for years, when people would talk about flexibility and some leaders within public accounting with more of an old school mindset were like, “Oh no, I don’t know you’re working unless you’re sitting outside my office, if I don’t…” You still had some of those people that didn’t understand, that with technology you could work anywhere. It should be about the work and the product and not that I see you. And another silver lining for me with the pandemic is, I think not all of them, there’s still some people out there, but a lot of the people who felt like, nope, you’ve got to be sitting in front of me or I don’t know you’re working, you had no choice.

And so now they’ve started to see that it can look different and it can be different. And look, I’ll be honest there are people, I’m one of them, I’ve worked from home since I joined Carr Riggs (& Ingram) in June 2015. I miss going into an office. The minute we have an office here in Charlotte, I will be the first one saying, “I want to go in an office.” I like having a very different space for home and for work. And I miss being in the break room, just going, “Hey, I saw you were at tax training last week. How did that go?” Or, “Oh my gosh, you got promoted.” Or, “Did you watch Big Brother last night?” But like those interactions, I personally miss that.

But there are plenty of people who maybe live, we talk about this a lot in the Dallas office, for sure, people who live far from the office and they don’t want to give up two hours a day just to get to the office. So maybe on Mondays and Friday. So, speaking of the pandemic, are there any aspects of pre-pandemic life that any of you can’t wait to come back, whether that’s personal or professional? Like what do you hope, hasn’t come back yet, but does?

Tanvi Gandhi:

Well, professionally, I would say like we were doing happy hours, volunteer days, once a year, a day of fun or an evening of fun or something, that I would definitely love to do again. Since COVID, we’ve been trying, since I’ve been in the Raleigh office, we’ve been trying to schedule a top call for a bowling evening with the team, but it hasn’t happened yet. I think those are just great team building activities and the chance to get to know people you work with outside of work. We’ve also been talking about ax throwing if COVID permits, I’m not touching those axes right now, but…

Sandi Guy:

Listen, this thing amazes me, for people, if you’ve thrown an ax… The first time I heard about this, I’m like, “Beer and throwing an ax? I want to be in the meeting with the insurance underwriter, who protects that…” Beer and throwing an ax. That concept still blows my mind.

Seth Margolies:

And coworkers.

Sandi Guy:

With coworkers. Thank you, I swear. I mean, hey fun. But! [Laughter]

Seth Margolies:

I might have to hide if we do that. I know some people that might throw the axe my way.

Sandi Guy:

I want to see-

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yeah. Somebody commented about throwing axes on people, coworkers. [Laughter]

Sandi Guy:

Well, I’m curious. So has this pandemic and being remote affected how you serve your clients or how you interact with your clients? Has that changed or is it still the same?

Tanvi Gandhi:

I’m going to say I’m a lot more patient with my client.

Sandi Guy:

That’s interesting.

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yeah. Earlier I was like, “I need this done. This is the deadline, I want it done. I need to… I need this information by this time.” I mean, of course that was helping them too, get their things done on time. But right now I’ll start calling them earlier than I’m used to for information and understand that, they are more stressed about their business than taxes right now. So give them some time and space to deal with it.

Sandi Guy:

That’s interesting. So as we start to wind down, I always like to look to the future and look ahead, because I can’t wait for this pandemic to be done. And I too miss a lot of social interaction. But so as you look ahead and look at how a career as a tax professional might change, with regulation, with how and when we work, all that, anybody have a crystal ball that they’re looking at and have any thoughts on how their career might change or, if we look at miss Holly, who doesn’t know any different, that this weird world that we’re in, that this is the work world. So anybody looking ahead and have thoughts on what might be different in the next five years?

Seth Margolies:

I think at least for CRI, the borders because we have offices. And I think you can see that starting to open up, where we’re working with more people, I would say, as great pre-pandemic that we were able to pick up the phone and see anybody on the camera and now everyone’s Zooming and Teams-ing and you’re able to see people and you get to know them a little bit better from different offices. And so I think that’s helping to break down barriers. We do that with our SALT group that I mentioned earlier, where we have a Zoom meeting, once a month with partners and staff, managers and you’re able to really work with them and you can see them and you get to know them.

And I think that in the very near future CRI will probably be able to open up the field a little bit. I know that finding employees, the Great Resignation is difficult and we’re now allowing people to work from home and remote workers. And if I had somebody that was willing to work remote, I would hire them and I wouldn’t care where they were located. Whereas, what, think back three years, that would never happen or most likely would not happen. So I think at least for CRI, I think those are probably some things that will change and probably for everyone, probably for a lot of companies.

Sandi Guy:

I was just telling somebody about this yesterday, that oddly enough this environment, people have gotten so accustomed to video. So now it’s rare when I’m talking to somebody and I can’t see them, they might Teams me with a video or there’s a Zoom. And I do feel that within CRI and I’m sure in other organizations, it has opened up culturally, because we’re used to seeing each other now. And we were building relationships because you might see something in the background… Our audience, we are doing this with video, even though you can’t see us and as we logged on, somebody made a comment about the Yoda sitting behind Seth right now, which if we were on a phone, you wouldn’t know there was a Yoda and it just helps you build relationships. So I do hope and I strongly believe, I think people have gotten accustomed to this video technology and connecting with people a different way. I think that will stay.

And I think for firms like ours or any organization that has people spread out and not all under one roof, it just gives you all the more opportunity to get to know more people, to get involved in additional opportunities and just build those relationships across your organization. I’m a big fan of it. I feel like I’m seeing the impact. Certainly our inclusion and diversity strategy has reaped the benefits from this because we’ve been able to see each other and engage more in ways that would’ve been very difficult across our footprint. So, that part has been nice.

So as we’re winding down, I always like to end things with advice because I’m a big fan of Take My Advice (I’m Not Using It), but as we wind down, I would love to hear advice. So if you think about somebody starting their career or somebody much like Holly who’s three years in, or maybe a rising manager who was like, “Oh, for love this, I didn’t realize my tax career was going to be like this.” What advice would you have for them? I’m going to start with, let’s start with Holly. What advice would you have for somebody in college starting to recruit and getting into a tax career?

Holly Cefalu:

I would say, don’t be so hard on yourself and take opportunities as they come. You never know, what it’s going to lead into and who knows, most of the time it’s just a conversation and it could be very fluid just like this. I know with, for me, for CRI I mean, that’s how it was when I… Because I did the internship when I was still in school and really now into working and becoming a staff, my advice would be, really learn everything and be open. Be open to some review notes, constructive criticism, those are all things that really just help me-

Sandi Guy:

Review notes.

Holly Cefalu:

I mean, I appreciate them. I print them out every time I get them. So, I mean, it’s a good way to really learn. I mean, once you get them, hopefully you don’t make the same mistake again and you’re always continuing to grow. So I would be open to growth, would be my other.

Sandi Guy:

I think that’s great advice. I was talking to a college recruit not too long ago and the subject of review notes came up and I said, “Listen to me, the key is to not think about review notes as like a Twitter troll or somebody commenting on your social media. Somebody giving you review notes is there to help you and help you develop and grow. They’re not doing it just to pick on you or whatever,” but it is interesting to watch how people respond to review notes coming up in their career.

Tanvi Gandhi:

They need to understand they’re not complaints against you. It’s just to make you better.

Sandi Guy:

It is. It is, so Tanvi now, again, you’re finishing up your first year as manager. So looking back, what advice would you have either for somebody in school or somebody in their second or third year, or what advice would you have for all?

Tanvi Gandhi:

For now with the recent experiences and the recent changes that I’ve made, I would say that, work-life balance and mental health, you have to give some importance to that. You don’t understand that when you’re starting out because you are trying to learn and grab every opportunity which is also needed and is good for the profession. But at the same time, you’ve got to give some importance to work-life balance and mental health. I would also say that, this profession demands a lot of hours. It’s a good thing. I’m not saying it’s not a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s what we do, so be mentally prepared for that.

Sandi Guy:

Yeah. Listen, the one similarity in a medical career and public accounting is the stress and the hours, for sure. So maybe you didn’t make such a wise choice there, Holly, just saying. But the one thing that I will say is burnout is real. And if you, like I’ve said to so many people, they don’t want to talk to their manager or partner because they feel like, oh, they’re busy too. I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining or I’m prideful or whatever. But if you’re not being self aware and understanding your own mental health, if you burn out, come in and talk to somebody, your partner as Seth mentioned earlier, happy to work with you. But we can’t solve a problem that we don’t know exists. So I think that’s great advice, Tanvi. So any wise, sage advice from Seth to people starting a tax career or anywhere along the line?

Seth Margolies:

I’ll skip the advice that everyone told me, which was knock out the CPA exam as soon as possible, because… Yeah, but I didn’t listen, nobody listens to that, but-

Tanvi Gandhi:

Yes, I did.

Seth Margolies:

Huh? Oh, oh good. Yeah. I got the CPA.

Tanvi Gandhi:

I did just because I was so tired of studying. I was like, I just want to be done with studying.

Seth Margolies:

It’s exhausting. Had I listened, I think life would’ve been a little bit easier. The career path, would’ve been a little bit easier. Everything would’ve… Everything may have been a little bit better, but it’s okay, I mean, I wouldn’t change it, no regrets. But I mean, I guess I already suggested that, but if I didn’t suggest that, I would say kind of what you guys were commenting on, which was, communicating, being part of the solution, helping move CRI to the future and coming up with solutions and again, just everything about communicating, whether it’s something like what Tanvi did or an idea that you want to get rolling and have CRI latch onto, I mean, these things can happen. I can tell you that they happen. And so, just again, communicate and see what happens.

Sandi Guy:

I love that. Which includes communicate if there’s things you want to get involved in, like Tanvi said.

Seth Margolies:

Yeah.

Sandi Guy:

Do you want to get involved in PPP and different things, just ask. Well, I appreciate you all letting me ask you to be part of this today. I really appreciate it. I’m not oblivious to the fact that we’re coming up on a deadline when I ask three high performing tax professionals to be on a podcast with me. But I really do appreciate that. I appreciate your time today. Thank you very much everybody. Have a great day.

Outro:

If you want more CRI insights or are interested in learning about our firm, please visit our website at cricpa.com. Thanks for listening to this episode of It Figures: The CRI podcast. You can subscribe to It Figures on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you prefer to listen to your podcasts. If you liked what you heard today, please leave us a review.

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