Podcast Episode 2: From Intern to Partner
Have you ever met a Super Woman? That’s how one might describe Roxanne Caldwell: Market Leader for Tax, Partner and most importantly mom to three amazing children (oh…and all around great wife!). In this podcast, Roxanne shares her journey from Intern to Partner – which includes a glimpse of why she accepted an offer at a national firm, but decided to stay with DHG. Don’t miss this engaging conversation with a Super Woman!
Episode 2 Transcript:
AGH: Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG podcast. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because I get to talk with so many of our people about the things that matter the most to us, flexibility, careers and people.
Today I have with me Roxanne Caldwell. She is a partner in the Greenville South Carolina office, she heads up our tax department and I think that she has a really interesting perspective because she has been with Dixon Hughes Goodman since internship -correct?
RC: That’s correct.
AGH: Intern, all the way to partner. And today she and I are going to talk a bit about what that career path has looked like for her and some of the challenges that she’s had along the way. But I want to open up by asking you to tell us about your family, what your life is like outside of DHG?
RC: Well, I have a wonderful husband and yes I need to let him hear this so that he heard me say that. And I have three children, I have a nine year old daughter Cassidy, I have a six year old daughter Macy and we had a nice little surprise last year during tax season on April 10th, Levy, he is our son.
AGH: Everybody thought it was April Fools when you told us that you were pregnant.
RC: I think they were hoping that.
AGH: So three children.
AGH: All fairly young, what does your typical day look like, how do you even get out the door?
RC: Oh it’s hilarious. If someone was a fly on the wall in our house in the morning, they would laugh their heads off because it takes both myself and my husband, he works as well, we both work full time. We have three drop offs in the morning, my daughter gets to the elementary school; Cassidy, the middle one, goes to a primary school; and then the baby goes to a preschool day care.
So it’s interesting. My husband drops off the oldest, I drop off the two youngest and we get everybody fed, lunch is packed, bottles packed and it just takes team work. And so we all get out the door and we make it on to our day.
AGH: That’s amazing. I only have myself and one to get out the door and some days are a little harrowing, so I can only imagine what your morning looks like.
RC: It’s fun.
AGH: So I know a little bit about your background because I’m here in Greenville and have had the opportunity to grow with you here in Greenville. I understand that there was a time in your career when you were ready to leave Dixon Hughes Goodman, maybe even public accounting. What happened and what made you stay with us?
RC: That’s true, it happened probably around — I was an experienced manager at the time. I just didn’t know what the next steps were in my career – if I was going to make it to that partner level, what did it look like when you make it to the partner level? The next person senior to me was 20 years older than me. So I just didn’t have that role model above me that showed me “this is what happens next and this is what you need to do”.
So I just felt like I needed to make a change. I did, I wasn’t leaving public accounting, I was actually going to go to a big four here in town locally, just to make a change. I wasn’t cutting back my schedule. I had a daughter at the time and I just thought that I needed to see what it was like somewhere else. Nobody stays in the same job for their whole career. That just doesn’t happen these days.
So the email went out to the office. It was done – I was leaving. Two partners, Kent Satterfield and Judy Alexander who have been great mentors to many of us here, took me in and Kent said, “You don’t want to do this. Here’s what’s happening with this firm-here’s how we’re changing, we’re looking at these things, there’s more direction, there’s young partners like you that we would like to have in our partnership going forward and her are some things that are specifically changing with tax.”
And really, ultimately, that’s what got me here from college was Judy telling me the same thing, promising me, “Here’s the growth that this firm is going through, here’s the career advancements that you can have here. Here is the place where you can have a family, you can have a career and you can have the flexibility to do all that you’d like to do and not have to make big sacrifices.” There’s definitely sacrifices in the day.
So after talking with Kent Satterfield and Judy, they convinced me to stay and it’s been one of the best decisions that I ever made. I love telling the story, it happens to all of us along the way.I definitely say there are bumps in our career so I’m always open to share that it worked out for me and six years after that point, I made it to partner, had two other kids along the way and still feel like I’ve had a successful career.
AGH: Yeah, and what’s interesting, did you have your children as partner or just Levy?
RC: Just Levy.
AGH: As a partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman and you were able to have a child…
AGH: …take maternity leave, keep the tax department going.
AGH: I mean it’s pretty amazing the role that you play at Dixon Hughes Goodman and the family life that you are able to juggle at home. It’s amazing.
RC: Yes, it’s great because I’m not the only one going through this and everyone in our office has things outside of their careers that they’re doing. When you go on maternity leave or something happens you need to do something with your kids, the great thing about working at DHG is, this is a team atmosphere.
So my partners really stepped up, the managers that I work with really stepped up during my maternity leave and even up to the last couple of months when I was getting ready for maternity leave. So I feel like we will step up for each other and I’d do the same for them.
AGH: Yeah, it’s really a team atmosphere and that’s what it takes in order to have a work environment that’s flexible. It takes team at home and it takes team at work. So you spoke a little bit about flexibility. How do you incorporate flexibility into your life? I know I’ve seen you come in to work from the gym.
AGH: What are some examples of flexibility for you?
RC: Well, that’s one. I have to make time for workouts. So I have two drop-offs in the morning, sometimes three. I mean going to the gym, keeping yourself healthy is very important. That only works during times when my children are in school. So I make that time in the morning, it works for me to do that and then there’s also — I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed with school field trips. I mean public accounting is to me one of the most flexible jobs that you can have because I go to all my kid’s field trips, I feel like I’m going to be there for the important things in their lives.
Then, how I fill that in is things like doing the laundry, cleaning the house, I just have to hire people to do those things so that when I’m at home, I’m at home with my kids. I’m at home with them, I spend time with them, I help them do their homework, that’s really important to me. I have hired a nanny to pick them up after school, I feel like that’s important to make sure that they get some one on one time.
She assists with their homework before I get there and then when I get home, I always check it and go over it with them, make sure that they’ve understood it and we fix dinner together. There’s also making time for that, spending time together and not feeling like I’m sacrificing.
This job offers you that flexibility, the technology is great, it’s really improved over my time here. I can work at home in the evenings during busy season, it’s necessary. I mean we have to do i. Saturday morning’s, I like to get to the office early because my kids have soccer. So it offers me the flexibility to get up early and by noon I am watching them at the soccer field at their soccer games. So it’s been great, the flexibility is key.
AGH: Yeah, I feel like as you’re talking, I need to have a caricature of Super Mom.
RC: I feel like that sometimes.
AGH: Because it really is, it’s inspiring to me to hear you talk about it and I know that others view you as a role model in the office too, some of our younger men and women that you — I personally don’t believe that anybody can have it all. It’s a give and take.I hear Matt talk about this, I hear Effin talk about this, “There isn’t really such thing as balance, it’s about integration,” because some days are really heavy work and some days are really heavy family and it’s integrated and that’s the life that we lead.
RC: It is, it takes not just the support system that we have, that I have here at the office at DHG but the support system that I have at home. My husband is great, he helps, he pulls — he does more than what a typical male role would have been 20 years ago. I think that’s similar to what some of the guys are doing here at DHG. They’re pulling that same role for their wives so that they can work and have careers as well.
AGH: Yeah, it really is amazing. Okay, so before we conclude, I have to ask you this, if you could give your 22 year old self just entering public accounting a little bit of advice, what would you say?
RC: I don’t know that I would have done anything differently than I did but just the positive attitude, also get to know the partners and the managers above you, ask them, find a sponsor and Matt talks about the importance of a mentor and a sponsor, that sponsor is key. If I didn’t have the sponsors that I had across my career then I would not be here today and it’s not just been one person.
It’s been key, I could name at least a handful that supported me to where I am today. I think that’s key coming in day one, figure out, “Who do I want to be like and who can be my role model? Not just in technical or career standpoint but who can I actually learn from regarding how to make a career and a family and life integration work?”
AGH: That’s really great advice. So I think we should conclude with that great advice for folks. Thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to us and thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, it’s our premiere podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope that you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories like Roxanne’s about other employees and partners who share their Life Beyond Number stories with us. Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.