Efficient, reliable, respectful and inspiring—those are a few of the words that immediately spring to mind when describing senior consultant Salena Oppus, the recipient of this year’s RoseRyan TrEAT Award, which honors the guru on our dream team who best exemplifies our values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team).

The TrEAT Award is a coveted honor within our firm. Our four values are part of our overall culture’s foundation and guide RoseRyan’s gurus as they work together, help clients and contribute to our firm’s overall success.

They’ve helped us form a supportive culture made up of people who consistently go above and beyond in helping clients, collaborate with one another, and are team players in every scenario. The evolution of our cultural journey has enabled us to launch consultant-led initiatives, to have more innovation and risk-taking, to be more open in our communication and to build a stronger community. We have been named a Bay Area Top 100 Workplace for the past two years, and on a national level, we were named a Great Place to Work. These awards are based on employee input and largely reflect our culture and how our employees feel about it.

The large number of nominations over the past year spoke to the common thread that our culture encourages. Each one gave a reason why a consultant should be considered for the award.

“They all described ways that we each live our values each day—how we support each other, support our clients, enhance our reputation in the market and contribute to the growth of the organization,” said RoseRyan VP Pat Voll during a company meeting when Salena was announced as the TrEAT winner by RoseRyan CEO Kathy Ryan.

Salena’s TrEAT prize is a gorgeous hand-blown glass bowl in the shape of an open shell that can be admired as itself or stuffed with special treats.

Congrats to Salena Oppus!

As the ultimate team player in our office and within her clients’ finance organizations, Salena was noted by her peers for being quick to volunteer for projects, expressing her opinions in an honest, straight-forward and respectful manner, and being a creative thinker.

Feedback from our clients demonstrates Salena’s talents in being able to “hit the ground running,” thoughtfully observing client workflows and offering insightful recommendations for streamlining and efficiency moves that the client hadn’t considered. These are qualities we look for in all our consultants, who have the can-do attitude, nimbleness and deep set of finance skills to seamlessly fit in with technology and life sciences companies around the San Francisco Bay Area. Salena becomes an integral part of her clients’ finance teams to solve problems and get the work done.

A well-deserved honor

Salena thrives when helping clients (which have included Nvidia, Onmeon, Netflix and Quantum) reach their goals, and in turn her clients benefit from her enthusiasm, out-of-the-box ideas and problem-solving skills. She can dig into the details and then pull back and assess improvements a company needs to make, such as ways it can make the most of its resources and time.

“She lives the values of honest communication, being reliable, having the courage to say the things that might not be well received, doing what’s right for our clients and, above all, being a good friend,” a coworker wrote when nominating Salena for the TrEAT Award.

The inclination to bring the best ideas forward and be helpful in every situation fits right into our collaborative and supportive culture. “I was so excited when I heard I won the TrEAT Award,” says Salena. “I am gratified that my colleagues took the time to nominate me, as I truly admire and am inspired by their expertise and talents every day.”

As one of those colleagues said, Salena is an “amazing teammate.” Thanks for being a part of our team, Salena!

Like what you see here? If you think you’d fit right in with the RoseRyan culture and you have the right stuff, we’d love to hear from you. We’re always on the lookout for top talent—full-time and part-time. Contact Michelle Hickam at [email protected].

You know you’ve found the right job when the moment you show up, it feels like home. There’s none of the usual butterflies swirling around the belly or awkward handshakes. That was my experience when I interviewed with RoseRyan over two years ago.

Talent Manager Michelle Hickam and I clicked right away (as do most people who talk to the always friendly Michelle), and later, when I went to the Newark office to interview, I had a similar experience with everyone I met. Everyone was so easy to talk to. They were all strangers but I instantly felt like I was catching up with old friends. Even now, as time has passed and I spend most of time away from the office with clients, that connectedness is still alive.

Here’s why it works: RoseRyan has the kind of business environment I haven’t experienced elsewhere. It’s not forced or fake. The talk is open, honest and down to earth, and there’s a thoughtfulness in what everyone does. We’re all practical folks who are kind, respectful and considerate in all that we do. These are my top 3 reasons why I’m loving this firm’s culture:

1. It’s supportive: You won’t find any bloated egos around here. At RoseRyan, we have a distinct culture of helpfulness. If one of us needs a second opinion on a technical issue, we have a whole group of people who will help us out—fast. Our clients know when they hire one of us, we have a supportive group of knowledgeable, savvy experts available as backup.

2. It’s flexible: This is a big reason I love working here. I’m a full-time consultant (some of my teammates work part-time hours) with a handful of clients. In our field of work, it’s tough to get a predictable schedule. At RoseRyan, however, I can plan my life around my calendar, knowing that I’ll always be busy toward the end of every month.

3. It has values that match my own: Another reason RoseRyan has clicked for me is our shared common values. We defined our values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team) that people around here believe in and actually live by. I was amazed to receive our TrEAT Award in 2014. It’s our highest honor for living our values. Honestly, I want to nominate everyone I work with because I think we all are trustworthy in our work, we excel at what we do, we advocate for our firm and our clients, and we are team players. It’s why I’m sticking around.

RoseRyan is a unique and stimulating workplace, where collaboration and camaraderie are made possible even though we’re not physically working with each other every day. Does it sound like your kind of place? Michelle is on the hunt for seasoned pros skilled in finance and accounting who will appreciate being a part of tight-knit team and all that we have to offer. Check out our current positions here.

We’re always on the lookout for top talent—full-time and part-time. So if you like what we’re about—and you have the right stuff—contact Michelle Hickam or call her at 510.456.3056 x134.

RoseRyan consultant Jacqueline Bray is our 2014 TrEAT Award winner. She’s often on the go with emerging-growth clients, helping them with general bookkeeping and accounting.

Senior finance pro Diana Gilbert is the latest recipient of the RoseRyan TrEAT Award, which honors the guru who best exemplifies our firm’s values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team). Given out only once a year, it is the highest honor we award an individual.

And it is especially meaningful this time around, as we marked the fifth-year anniversary of our TrEAT Award and all that it signifies. Our values are a core piece of our overall culture, driving what we do, who we hire, how we perform and how our finance dream team is perceived in the marketplace. Throughout the year, our consultants and the management team submit noteworthy ways the RoseRyan gurus have practiced our values, either within the firm or outside while working with clients or networking at a local event.

Our TrEAT values have helped us form a supportive culture made up of people who can rely on one another, always do their best, look out for each other and are team players in every situation. Naturally supportive of others and giving of her time and expertise, Diana is very deserving of this honor.

“Our award recipient does it all,” RoseRyan CEO Kathy Ryan said at our holiday party just before revealing Diana’s name. “She is active in her professional network, she actively participates in social media and media outreach, she supports our sales team, she interviews job candidates, and oh yeah—our clients love her, too!”

Diana’s TrEAT prize is a unique copper enamelware bowl, perfect for holding some special treats or admiring on its own.

The past year has been a significant one for Diana as it was her first full year as head of our Technical Accounting Group (TAG). This means she’s our go-to person for the toughest accounting quandaries and updates on changes underway by standard-setters. Her insights and interpretation are valued by clients as well as reporters—she has been quoted, for example, by Compliance Week for her views on the new revenue recognition rule.

Several of Diana’s peers nominated her for the TrEAT Award, noting that she “does a great job mentoring, being approachable and coaching others.” She was repeatedly recognized by her colleagues for coming through with a helping hand over the past year even when deadlines and her own schedule were tight. She also humbly shares the spotlight with her fellow TAG team members, giving them moments to shine during presentations, for example.

“It is truly an honor to receive the TrEAT Award,” said Diana, who brought her mix of public accounting and operational finance experience to RoseRyan over eight years ago. “Feeling proud of the work that I do and being part of such a great firm is made possible because of my equally ‘TrEATworthy’ colleagues.”

One of her nominations came from a new employee who benefited from Diana showing him the ropes. He called her “simply awesome.” We totally agree.

When you work in finance and accounting, tough conversations go with the territory. At some point, you may have to tell someone their numbers are off, that they need to rethink a corporate strategy or a new hire, or that some part of a project or the company itself isn’t doing well.

While it’s understandably tempting to avoid awkward talks, your best bet is always to be honest and say what’s on your mind even when dealing with difficult topics. It’s a practice we regard highly at RoseRyan, where honest communication is a major part of the values we have embedded in the firm (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team).

The next time you have bad news to share with someone else, whether it’s your boss, a client, an employee, or an investor, I suggest you take a deep breath and keep the following tips in mind:

Pipe up early: As soon as you notice an issue, bring it up. If the people involved find out on their own, they may be surprised and upset, and less open to listening to what you say. During a RoseRyan engagement where a client had gradually expanded the scope of our work and the project had become more complicated, our project manager sat down with the client as soon as we realized the project was heading toward over-budget territory. Other service providers could have waited until billing time to spring this news on the client, but we don’t work that way. By proactively telling the full story and not waiting until the end of the project, RoseRyan was able to get the new budget approved and the client could plan accordingly.

Don’t hold back: If you’re tasked with helping others do their job better, you sometimes need to tell them something that they don’t want to hear or that they don’t even realize is happening. This scenario can happen at fast-growing companies when key people’s skill sets are not able to keep up with the more complex business’s needs. For example, a controller who has limited experience with complex revenue issues may be fine for a small startup in the development stages but may be in over his head as the company grows and starts to ship product. Supervisors and advisors may need to step in and alert the CEO that a change is necessary. While such conversations should be done in an honest and sensitive way, these issues are best dealt with as soon as possible before they affect the business.

Tread lightly: The topic of an under-skilled  team member is a highly sensitive one, of course. Whenever you’re dealing with personnel issues, it’s best to focus on the skills and talents required – and not get personal. In the finance department, this topic comes up all the time as new skills become needed and roles are expanded. If the situation requires bringing on board a more highly skilled professional for a particular role, it is best to communicate the specific requirements needed for the job to the individual getting reassigned, rather than dwelling on a list of failures in the past.

Keep the message brief: Rambling on about why something happened doesn’t do anyone any good and may make the situation worse. The person on the other end may even think the news is worse than it is. Take the time to plan out what you will say – I usually make an outline of the key points I want to make – so that you stay on message and don’t take all day to say it. Get to the point, and deliver the bad news clearly and quickly.

Suggest a solution: The communication process often provides an opportunity for turning a negative situation into a positive one. This is another reason to think carefully about what you’re going to say. Whatever happened, happened. Focus on the next steps and provide some options for resolving the problem. The recipient of your message will be grateful for the creative solutions.

Theresa Eng is a member of RoseRyan’s dream team. Her areas of expertise include financial planning and budgeting, finance operations, and SOX.