Q&A: Carla Grant
Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.
Carla Grant is a CPA who developed a successful employee benefit plan audit and consulting niche within Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors.
Grant has worked part-time for most of her more than 30-year career with Hungerford Nichols and was promoted to shareholder despite her part-time status.
She has been an advocate for flexibility in the workplace and quality-of-life issues, which has led to a remarkably low turnover rate for the firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Greenville.
Biggest career break?
Being offered part-time professional employment by Hungerford Nichols upon returning from maternity leave in 1990, which was unheard of at Grand Rapids CPA firms at that time.
Passing the CPA exam on the first try. My sister-in-law, Peggy Murphy, encouraged me to give it a try, even though I didn’t have time to study, and we were both astonished when I passed. This gave me the confidence I needed to forge a new career path as a CPA.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
“Go ahead with confidence.” Believe it or not, this was from a fortune cookie that I broke open more than 20 years ago when I was considering whether to take on a very large and challenging client that more than doubled my specialty practice in one year. I still have that fortune in my desk drawer. Later, the decision to take on this challenge resulted in an enhanced reputation that built the practice group even further.
How did you make your first dollar?
When I was around eight or nine my parents allowed me to grow, harvest and sell green beans from our large garden. I wandered around the neighborhood offering lunch bags full of beans from a little red wagon. This was in a place and time where a parent could feel comfortable giving their child this much freedom.
My baby grand piano. It was given to me by my husband for my 40th birthday and has been a source of joy ever since.
The one I have now, because we have amazing employees and owners who work well together toward common goals but still have fun together. Plus, I have time to be “Gigi” to my grandson, volunteer for my church and several other nonprofit organizations and even spend time by myself. My career at Hungerford Nichols has been a true blessing.
If I were president for a day, I would…?
Work to balance the budget. My personal ethic requires me to pay as I go, so it really frustrates me that our federal government is not required to do the same. I guess this is probably a typical response from a CPA! My wish is for a compassionate government that acts as a mindful and careful steward of its resources.
Last book you’ve read?
“Timeline” by Michael Crichton. My major vice is that I’m a voracious reader of (mostly) well-written novels, and Crichton is one of my favorite “quick-read” authors. I probably read 50 novels per year!
Last thing you googled?
Kent County election results at around midnight on the night of the election, because I had worked as a volunteer treasurer on Joe Rossi’s campaign for Circuit Court judge and couldn’t sleep until I was sure he won.
Your worst habit?
Moving too fast. I’m a maximizer and am always trying to get more done than fits in any timeframe.
To unwind, I like to…?
Read, play piano, walk, sail, go to a yoga class, play with my grandson. It depends on the day!
A month in Australia and New Zealand. For my husband and I, vacations are very active, and we try to have adventures every day. If we had a month to explore this region, we would likely hike, sail, snorkel and kayak. With this much time, we might even find time to rest for an hour or two! We always return exhausted but mentally refreshed.
Fruit pie. My mom is a world-class pie baker and nothing compares to a homemade pie made with locally grown fruit that is in season.
Person you most admire?
Pope Francis. He tackles the tough issues and doesn’t worry about status quo. He’s shaking things up and reminding us that loving others is all that is worthwhile in this world.