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Meet a Millennial: Nick Preusch, CPA

This month, the VSCPA is spotlighting some of its top millennial members and the way they bring value to their companies. Today's spotlight is Nick Preusch, CPA, 31, a tax supervisor at PBMares in Fredericksburg.

VSCPA: What attracted you to the accounting profession?

NP: I read the book The Firm by John Grisham. Ever since then, I wanted to be a tax attorney or CPA.

VSCPA: What characteristics made you select your current employer?

NP: PBMares has a great reputation with clients. They really put clients first. While at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Professional Responsibility, I helped the IRS go after crooked tax debt resolution firms that would steal clients' money. Since leaving the government, I knew I always wanted to be with a firm that really cares about the people they’re helping.

VSCPA: How has your employer encouraged your growth as an accountant?

NP: They always support me in my endeavors. Whether it's presenting CPE around the nation, my publications or my tax blog, someone at the firm is always around to help out, offer ideas or steer me in the right direction.

VSCPA: What motivates you professionally?

NP: My clients. Anytime I can help them, it makes me feel great. One time, I helped a client through an IRS audit. He hated the IRS. The IRS wanted to make a timing adjustment on one of the years under audit. I was able to use some more complex tax procedure and when the timing adjustment was all in, the client got a $100,000 refund. He didn’t hate the IRS as much anymore.

VSCPA: What have you done outside your office to aid in your personal growth?

NP: I have been published in most of the major accounting journals like The Journal of Accountancy and The Tax Advisor. I have co-authored a textbook on Circular 230 and Practitioner Penalties. I speak nationally. This year I have/will present in Los Angeles, Baltimore and Las Vegas. I keep my own tax blog. I am also an adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington.

VSCPA: What is the generational makeup of your office? How do the different generations interact?

NP: It’s pretty even. No one generation is more represented than another one. The interactions are great.

VSCPA: In what ways do you embody the perception of the typical millennial? In what ways do you differ from that perception?

NP: Like a lot of millennials, I’m into nostalgia. We have a 9-month-old daughter I’m already trying to get into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, and The Real Ghostbusters, among others. I saw a survey that said only 22 percent of HR professionals surveyed believed millennials are team players. I think I break that perception. I’m always trying to help out and get others involved in activities.


Rob Cherry, CPA, 29
Manager, Dixon Hughes Goodman, McLean

VSCPA: What attracted you to the accounting profession?

RC: When studying in college, I cannot say I was immediately attracted to accounting or had any interest in accounting, at least initially. I actually had no idea and would never have guessed I would end up becoming a public accountant. I was undecided and thought I wanted to be a biology major. I’ve always been interested in business and science and I initially started with science as the path forward. After determining science wasn’t right for me, I started exploring business as a potential option.

In one of my classes, a guest speaker was discussing accounting and referred to it as the “heartbeat of all business.” I quickly became intrigued by accounting. I determined I could learn a seemingly unlimited amount about businesses, how they operating, why they are successes or failures, etc. by entering the accounting profession. I went forward with it, and I’m glad I did. Overall I kind of fell into the major after searching for a while. My indecisiveness paid off as I had so many extra credit hours in college that I was able to meet the CPA Exam education requirements early on without going to graduate school. 

VSCPA: What characteristics made you select your current employer?

RC: I started my career with a smaller accounting firm in Fairfax, Swart Lalande & Associates, PC (SLA). I selected this firm because I wanted the opportunity to try both audit and tax at first and wanted to get a picture of the full audit process. I feared if I started with a Big Four, it would be a long time before I saw more than low-risk, repetitive audit procedures.

A little over a year after I started with SLA, the firm merged with Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG). I really lucked out in this merger. DHG was a great transition for me and provided unlimited training and developmental opportunities. The firm is highly committed to their people and serving their clients as trusted advisors. While I may have been a little uncertain leading up to the merger, it turned out to be a great opportunity. I am still with the firm today. 

VSCPA: How has your employer encouraged your growth as an accountant?

RC: DHG has been highly encouraging throughout my career. They push me to continually try new things and reach outside of my comfort zone. The firm has provided significant opportunity to work on various client is various industries, included me in practice and business development opportunities and fostered an overall environment of innovation and resourcefulness. The firm has taught me to never be satisfied with the status quo and to always look for ways to make something better.

VSCPA: What motivates you professionally?

RC: I’m motivated by the desire to help the firm and the clients I work with. At any given time, I’m not entirely sure what this looks like. The public accounting profession is a high-intensity, rewarding profession that requires commitment on a professional and personal level. I look back each year on the professional and personal commitment to the firm and my clients and take a great level of pride in the work the firm does and the services that are offered. I think back to difficult engagements and feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing where we started, where we finished, and how the firm and clients have grown and are better for it. I’m motivated by this desire to grow the firm’s capabilities and see how my personal contribution has been a part of the overall firm and client success. 

VSCPA: What have you done outside your office to aid in your personal growth?​

RC: I regularly read trade journals and market information to keep on top of the industries and markets within which I work. I often read books unrelated to accounting specifically with an overall focus on business development, how to be a better manager and how to work better with your peers. I attend trade association events as well.

VSCPA: Wha​t is the generational makeup of your office? How do the different generations interact?

RC: The generational makeup is a mix. Most of the partner group are baby boomers, but this is beginning to shift. We have more and more younger professionals in their 30s entering the partner group. The generations work well together. I’ve been surprised and appreciative of the understanding and commitment that DHG has made to younger generations. The firm is flexible and offers a variety of opportunities for flexible work arrangements and work-life balance for folks in every generation. 

VSCPA: In what ways do you embody the perception of the typical millennial? In what ways do you differ from that perception?

RC: Contrary to what seems to be a perception that millennials are less motivated and don’t work as hard, I believe millennials are very hard workers who learn to stay competitive and successful in a world of shifting technology and competitive advantage. Millennials need flexibility in their lives. In this way, I embody the typical millennial. I am willing to make a personal commitment to my profession and my firm, but feel strongly that I can do this from anywhere. I do not need to be in the office every day of the week in order to accomplish this. I find that my productivity is much higher when working from home than when working in the office. 

Many millennials tend to frequently shift from employer to employer and seem to have a diminished sense of loyalty. I differ from this perception in that I am a highly loyal individual and am in things for the long run. I am loyal to my firm and my colleagues. 


Marcus Balog, CPA, 28
Controller, Paramount Services, Sterling
 

VSCPA: What attracted you to the accounting profession?

MB: I discovered it in high school and many aspects of the concepts seemed to click with me. As I took courses in other subjects throughout college, I always kept getting drawn back by accounting. The idea of keeping the books with precision while operating under the guiding philosophies and rules of the profession, especially as the topics get more complex, is very interesting to me.

VSCPA: What characteristics made you select your current employer?

MB: After college, I started working at a small auditing firm. After the experience there, I found that I wanted to be the person making the books and keeping them accurate through the year, rather than being the person who came in once a year to clean up. I wanted to make a bigger difference at one company rather than small adjustments across many.

VSCPA: How has your employer encouraged your growth as an accountant?

MB: At a basic level, they're willing to pay for my annual society dues and CPE. They also allow me to take a couple days a year off in which to do the education, and learn from it, rather than trying to fit it into evenings and weekends and risk not taking away everything I can from the courses.

Additionally, as a small business, they have pushed me into new fields that I didn't have previous experience with. I'm not simply the accountant for them, but someone that they can consult on HR issues, insurance and the like.

VSCPA: What motivates you professionally?

MB: Being part of a team is a motivator. Even when I'm working on a project by myself for hours at a time, it's easy to stay motivated when I know how the result is going to help the rest of the team.

VSCPA: What have you done outside your office to aid in your personal growth?

MB: It's not the most traditional thing, but I'm very active in the fencing community. I've served as the treasurer of the state organization in the past (as have many CPAs in their local organizations). However, I frequently referee fencing tournaments, at the state, regional, national and international levels. This experience helps me to work on interpersonal skills with people I don't see every day in the office, but still get to know on a professional level. Further, it adds practice with arbitrating between people that see things differently, both in the moment and on a philosophical level.

VSCPA: What is the generational makeup of your office? How do the different generations interact?

MB: Our office is fairly small, and discussions rarely split among generational lines. The managers tend to take heed from the people below them, but there's not too much "I know better than you because I'm this old" that makes it into our decision-making process.

VSCPA: In what ways do you embody the perception of the typical millennial? In what ways do you differ from that perception?

MB: I'm a standard millennial in that I truly do try to value my time at the office, and am willing to work hard in my time there. I also do value my time away from the office. I believe that time outside the office shouldn't be spent entirely on work and try to place some limits for myself and our staff.

I differ from this image in that I'm not as technologically forward as what might be standard. I have proficiency with the Excels of the world, but don't often spend time focused on social media, purchasing cutting edge electronics, or even downloading the latest apps. I'm not a Luddite, but technology isn't where I focus my energy.

 
 
 
 
 

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