Having worked with a range of companies in a variety of senior-level roles and as a consultant, I know it can sometimes take awhile to truly know a company when you’re new. How the company really operates and what its values are may take some time to reveal themselves. But I found the opposite to be true when I became a part of the RoseRyan leadership team in late 2018. Even during my very first meeting with the other executives here, I could tell that this firm is different. I had never before experienced the degree of candor and willingness to share information by senior leaders. The transparency stood out and was most welcome as I got myself acquainted with what this exciting, unique finance and accounting consulting firm is all about.

Now, as I start 2020 and step into the CEO role here, I am looking closely at all that sets our firm apart and how we can improve. It’s a job made easier by the firm-wide transparency encouraged by Kathy Ryan, who founded RoseRyan 26 years ago and will continue to oversee our overall mission and strategy in her new role as Chair. At RoseRyan, we all have the common goal of sharing information to improve our performance as individuals and as a firm. This allows us to make unified, smart changes, particularly as people feel free to share a different position than someone else during the decision-making process. The dialogue is much richer than it would be if we worked at a company where speaking up is discouraged.

In some ways, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the forthcoming nature of RoseRyan. For five years in a row, the firm has been recognized as a Top Workplace by the Bay Area News Group, an honor based entirely on the results of confidential employee satisfaction surveys. The surveys have revealed that employees feel we’re working toward the same goals. And I’ve seen it firsthand: As the discussions flow and a decision is reached, there is alignment around carrying out the plan. Whether we need to execute an internal mandate or we’re helping companies take on a big accounting change like the new revenue recognition or lease accounting rules, we’re the kind of people who get things done.

Plans for 2020: 5 Focus Areas

In my new role, the can-do attitude is infectious and has me thinking about what sets our consulting firm apart, and what we will focus on in the year ahead. I have a lot of plans on my plate as we plot out our growth strategy, explore opportunities in our solution areas for fast-moving companies, and build upon the solid foundation set by Kathy.

  • Exploring untapped potential: I am very proud to be able to lead an established, dynamic team that is so strong and that offers so many perspectives and areas of expertise. One of the challenges I am looking forward to is how to unleash the untapped potential we have as individuals and as a team.
  • Aligning decisions with the culture: My values are already deeply aligned with those of RoseRyan, a firm known for its clearly defined culture. It’s a natural fit for me as I make decisions. With the shared values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team), I expect alignment on decisions and how to carry them out to go smoothly in the months ahead.
  • Becoming more customer-centric: There’s a renewed emphasis on what our clients need—and may need—going forward. While some of our competitors may look at their business as a series of transactions rather than building long-term, authentic relationships, we have always been “customer-centric” at RoseRyan. I think this will be a key element to our continued, future success. People do business with people. We understand and live that every day.
  • Building upon a solid history: While I am only a part of RoseRyan’s most recent history, I strongly value the path RoseRyan has taken to reach this point. I am thrilled to have Kathy as my leader and business partner going forward. It is a rare opportunity to have the founder still deeply engaged in driving the company forward. She is a deep fountain of wisdom that I plan to tap into on a daily basis.
  • Learning from our customers: The companies we help along all the stages of the business lifecycle, from venture-backed startups finding their way to more established companies hitting their stride, let us solve some of their biggest challenges. Every company has its own set of challenges to get through and opportunities to make the most of. Every customer I meet is a source of learning—we learn from them and they learn from us. This makes the work of leading this firm quite rewarding.

This latest observation presents one of the challenges I’m most looking forward to addressing in 2020. How can we meet our customers’ needs in the future beyond the services we’re currently providing? Our consultants are problem-solvers by their very nature, and often pick up on ways that they can offer additional expertise to customers. We’ll be exploring more of these opportunities as we continue to get to know our customers and take them further, faster, in 2020.

As CEO of RoseRyan, David Roberson leads the day to day business and builds upon the firm’s established reputation for taking companies further, faster. He also serves as CEO of Kukuza Associates, a RoseRyan subsidiary that provides accounting and finance services to cannabis companies. RoseRyan Founder and Chair Kathy Ryan named David to the CEO post in January 2020 to champion RoseRyan into the next era of growth. David previously served as a senior vice president for Hewlett-Packard Co.; president and CEO at Hitachi Data Systems, where he has previously held the titles of COO, CFO, CIO and general counsel; and he has served as a director of 12 companies including Brocade, Quantum, IGT, Spansion and IDT.

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.

We are excited to share the news that Jackie Bray has received the 2014 TrEAT Award, a coveted recognition within RoseRyan. She is the fourth annual recipient of this award, which honors a guru who has best exemplified our firm’s values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team) throughout the year.

The RoseRyan management had the tough task of deciding who out of 40 nominees made the biggest standout contribution in 2014. “Being able to juggle various deadlines and clients while always being responsive and keeping cool under pressure is a real art,” says RoseRyan CEO Kathy Ryan. “Jackie does this with reliability and grace.”

Because of the stiff competition, Jackie, who specializes in general accounting, was surprised to hear her name called at the RoseRyan holiday party when the winner was announced. “It was a nice feeling—it was humbling — that the nomination can come from anyone at the company, not just a manager,” she says. “That makes it special for me.”

When deciding whether to join RoseRyan in 2013, she was won over by the firm’s values, which the firm’s managers and consultants not only talk about but truly follow. They matched her own, and she knew RoseRyan would be a good fit.

A sweet TrEAT
The RoseRyan TrEAT award was established to acknowledge the importance of the our cornerstone values as the foundation of our business, and honor the individual who exemplifies those values. It is the highest honor we can award an individual. This year, we awarded Jackie with a beautiful, one-of-a-kind bowl. It’s perfect for displaying some treats or for admiring as is.

Jackie fulfills the trustworthy criteria by always meeting her deadlines and deliverables, even when (inevitably) something unpredictable creeps up or hot issues hit more than one client at once. She excels by meeting her performance metrics and being willing to go beyond her comfort zone to expand her skills. And she is an advocate for the firm by providing valuable feedback and recommendations to the RoseRyan client management group.

And last but not least, Jackie is a strong team player for her ability to build good relationships with clients and her colleagues as well as for the fact that she can be consistently relied upon to provide excellent work.

Indeed, Jackie manages a four-client workload with finesse, and she has the full force of the collective intelligence of RoseRyan’s seasoned pros at her fingertips. If a client has an unusual question, Jackie knows she can get the answer—she just needs to turn to her colleagues to see who has encountered a similar situation (since our dream team members have been on a wide range of assignments, usually several chime in to help).

RoseRyan has given her access to a diverse and flexible workload with the support of knowledgeable colleagues she can turn to anytime. “When one of us is with a client, we are never alone,” Jackie says. “You truly do have a whole team behind you.”

Congratulations to Jackie Bray!

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.

We are proud to announce that Sheila Manzano is the recipient of this year’s TrEAT Award. Now in its third year, the TrEAT Award honors a guru who best exemplifies our values (Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team) throughout the year.

TrEAT Award recipients are chosen by the leadership team based on nominations from the entire staff. This year there were 28 nominees, and the team says making the final choice is one of the hardest decisions they make all year. The honoree may be singled out for contributions so over the top that we are stunned, or for quietly and consistently putting our values into action in small ways every day.

Sheila falls into both camps. She is amazing on a regular basis, in her work with clients and with colleagues, and puts her best foot forward in everyday actions. Sheila has calmed the waters of more than one client storm this year, and we are sure that she preserved the sanity of at least one frazzled project lead. She is unfailingly cheerful (and never, ever complains, at least to us), and she is always offering to provide extra help—she clocked more overtime than any of us this year.

Sheila not only delivers first-rate work for clients as a key member of our SOX team, but also serves as RoseRyan’s controller and administers our health benefits—for anyone else, that could be a full-time job in itself. She is tireless in her support for internal projects, too, such as a long-term strategic initiative and the Values Team. Sometimes, we’re not sure how she keeps her own sanity. 

Congratulations, Sheila, and thank you for living our values every day all year long.

Silicon Valley is a great place for reinvention. But sometimes the way to stay successful is to shift your great idea to a different foundation, one that supports even more strategic thinking and sets parameters for risk taking. During the fallow period of the financial crisis, RoseRyan did just that. CEO Kathy Ryan shares her thinking about the changes in four short videos based on material first produced for the Build Network series, Building the Strategic CFO.

How we embed values at RoseRyan
Learn why RoseRyan used the financial crisis to rebuild its very foundation, basing it on an embedded values program that guides employees in day-to-day activities and more importantly, through times requiring critical judgment and risk.

How RoseRyan is preparing for growth
Love to accomplish projects but find it challenging to work on initiatives that require continuous attention? Get over it. We did, launching three growth programs during the recession to be ready when times get better.

Building a stronger team
Want to build a better finance team? Ryan’s top advice for CFOs: make values your glue.

Keys to success
How important is making the finance function highly strategic? Pretty important, especially during uncertain times.

A year has rolled by and it’s TrEAT time again. TrEAT—an acronym of Trustworthy, Excel, Advocate and Team—is our much-coveted internal award, created to recognize one RoseRyan consultant whose work and approach throughout the year has exemplified our values. TrEAT nominations are accepted from RoseRyan gurus throughout the year. 

Even in a group of colleagues as close-knit as ours, this year’s honoree Michelle Perez stands out for her commitment to the team. Take the time, for example, when a fellow consultant had to leave a client assignment early to go on maternity leave (those darned kids; they never stick to the schedule). Everyone else was busy on other engagements and Michelle herself was about to go on vacation. But when she heard about the client’s predicament, she canceled her vacation and swooped in to save the day.

A founding member of our Values Team, Michelle walks her talk. She is generous with her time and ideas, and boldly tackles projects that are out of her wheelhouse—like giving the inaugural “Tips from the Trenches” presentation to the whole team at a company meeting. Well done, Michelle, and congratulations! Thank you for living RoseRyan values every day.

All year we’ve been collecting nominations for our first-ever TrEAT Award, designed to honor the RoseRyan consultant who best represents our values of trustworthy, excel, advocate and team throughout the year, with clients and with colleagues, in ways big and small.

Lisa Thomas, this year’s TrEAT honoree, embodies so many of these qualities we considered giving her the award in duplicate. Lisa excels at her work and gamely ventures outside her comfort zone to learn new skills and tackle stretch assignments. A team member-and-a-half, she forges the same strong, collegial relationships with clients that she builds inside RoseRyan, where she is a frequent instigator of social activities.

Lisa pitches in for more than the fun stuff. She never shies away from the harder work of culture-building, for example, honest communication about difficult issues. It takes courage to speak up and ask the tough questions, and Lisa has both the moxie and the finesse to do it. Congrats, Lisa, and thank you for living our values every day.