Amy Sanford Schmidt / Lilypad Business Services & Consulting
As a child, I enjoyed putting jigsaw puzzles together and could concentrate for hours on end. I always started with the outside pieces then worked my way in by color groupings. This activity prepared me for business well. I knew I would be in business at a young age but just not sure the role I would play. The Fashion Industry is a dream for many girls to work in but artistry has never been a strength (Pictionary is a struggle with stick figures). However, there was a fascination with organizing my dad’s accounting spreadsheets for the gas stations he supported. I enjoyed, yes enjoyed, putting all the carbon copy receipts in piles by category and recording them in the appropriate debit/credit columns. There was a thrill when I could draw a double line for the balanced columns and rows. The system was a jigsaw puzzle. One must carefully place the pieces together for the picture to tell a story.
The curiosity of how economics played into the greater picture always tugged at me, but I was more amused by the fact many economists didn’t even agree with each other. So, when I went back to school to finish my degree in Accounting & Economics, it seemed a great fit. In fact, I use those concepts and Industry Research almost every day in conversation or the basis for analysis. Prior to college I worked in Sales for many years, both Retail and Outside Sales. Nike recruited from college into their USA Accounting Division reviewing athlete contracts, AR Reserves, and Sarbanes-Oxley documentation. Sarbanes-Oxley taught me about the importance of process and documenting work, something I stress with my clients today.
Many years were spent in Accounting and Financial Analysis roles until I landed at Nordstrom. I spent 5 years working in their Corporate Finance division working closely with stores. I created and managed the budgets, including capital budgets for the brick and mortar stores. My responsibility grew from 30 stores to just over 60 stores, which is about half of the fleet. Much of this occurred through employee attrition in our group but I learned to manage people by teaching them to “fish”. It became imperative that I trained my store managers to become business owners so they could find solutions for their financial situation to meet budget expectations. I traveled once a week every month to meet with as many of the store and regional leadership as I could to train them to be strong financial leaders. The culture at Nordstrom is to leave something better than you found it. This is something I carry with me today.
After many years in corporate, it became apparent to me that I treasured time with my family and wanted the flexibility to enjoy the last few years before my youngest child went to college. This is where I am today. Just over a year ago, I started my own company for Business Svcs & Consulting and have built a staff of 3 almost full time Staff Accountants. I continue to build a diversity in my clientele and truly enjoy helping the small to medium size business owner. There is always a sense of relief I see on their faces when the financial aspects can be handed off as I know it can be a burden to those that want to really do what they are good at. Whatever their passion is or their business is…they can focus on that now. I spend a portion of time to empower and train my employees in new skillsets and also do that for my clients so their acumen in Accounting and Finance becomes stronger and more comfortable.
Brad Berger / Cornerstone Financial Strategies
Dan Weedin /Toro Consulting
Amy Sanford-Schmidt / Lilypad Business Services & Consulting
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