Since high school, I had planned a career track on the finance side of business with a focus on public accounting and the goal of becoming a CFO. An accounting major at the University of Southern California, I passed my CPA exam upon graduating and got a job with the County of Los Angeles Auditor-Controller’s office. After a move to San Diego, I earned an MBA in corporate finance from the University of San Diego and joined an area CPA firm focused on closely held businesses and high net worth individuals.
The CPA firm was great. Really smart people working like family in a highly collaborative environment. After becoming immersed in the hectic pace of the firm and seven “tax seasons”, I was on a great career path but found myself needing a change. My young family was growing and I was missing too much at home. I was ready to move on to a better work-life balance.
When I informed my clients I’d be leaving, one of them, Bob Dubraski, founder of health care industry specialty insurance brokerage Dubraski & Associates, suggested joining his organization. It seemed like an interesting opportunity to learn an industry in more depth and help the company grow.
Joining Dubraski & Associates in 2010 as Controller and then becoming Chief Financial Officer, I found a company that really suited me; really intelligent, driven, dedicated and welcoming people working to be the best. It was a great five years of success and tremendous growth. When merger talks with Risk Strategies gained momentum in 2015, I found myself feeling apprehensive. Having put myself on a somewhat unexpected, but really rewarding, path, I wasn’t sure what becoming part of Risk Strategies would mean for me.
That apprehension was short-lived.
After the deal was signed, Bob asked me to take lead on working integration issues with the Risk Strategies team. The integration took a year and was a comprehensive tour of the organization. I worked closely with all the Risk Strategies executives, department leaders, team leaders and team members – from accounting/finance to HR and IT, carrier management, legal/compliance, marketing, and operations to practices. As the integration of Dubraski & Associates into Risk Strategies wound down, Risk Strategies Founder and then-CEO Mike Christian and then-CFO John Vaglica came to see if I’d be interested in a role heading up M&A integration as the firm stepped-up its acquisition pace. It was an exciting new opportunity which appealed to me as being dynamic and challenging! I could remain in San Diego, be involved in many different aspects of the business and build on relationships I’d developed and lessons I’d learned in the Dubraski integration.
What got me most excited about taking the job (one I never knew existed), however, was the experience I’d had in that initial integration project interacting with the people. With each interaction, I found in Risk Strategies what I had loved about working at Dubraski – a great culture of very genuine, highly collaborative and extremely dedicated professionals working like family. You wouldn’t expect to find that culture at such a large firm, but it is absolutely there. It’s why I continue to be so engaged and excited about my career at Risk Strategies, wherever the path may lead, as we work together to build a best-in-class brokerage firm.
I found in Risk Strategies what I had loved about working at Dubraski - a great culture of very genuine, highly collaborative and extremely dedicated professionals working like family. You wouldn’t expect to find that culture at such a large firm, but it is absolutely there.