Sharla Simpson, CPA didn't take the "traditional" route to the CPA designation. With an interest in numbers, eagerness to help others, and fueled by the desire to become a trusted advisor, Sharla studied for the exam and passed while working and raising a family. Today, Sharla is the Manager of Tax and Investor Accounting at Gemini Rosemont Realty, where she developed the tax department and has been an integral part of the organization for 14 years. To decompress outside of work, you can find Sharla either reading or catching up with her family. We recently had the chance to speak to Sharla about her life as a CPA in private industry and learned about her experience as an engaged member of the NMSCPA.

 Sharla Simpson

Sharla Simpson, CPA

I am passionate about…

I am passionate about my family. Every year, my parents host our family reunion which ranges from 30 – 80 people. I am very close to my family members; we all keep in touch.

I never leave home without…

I never leave home without my cell phone!

I’m a CPA because…

I am a CPA because I like numbers; I always have! My experience evolved from taking an accounting class in high school and having wonderful professors in college. I also like the idea of helping people. Whether it’s books (which I don’t do much of anymore), making sure that people are doing things appropriately, or helping people find ways to take advantage of the different tax-lowering opportunities available, I truly enjoy helping others.

How did you end up here?

I was living in Texas and decided that I needed a life change. I already had some family here in New Mexico and decided it would be a great place to find the change I was seeking in my life.

If I weren’t a CPA, I’d like to be a _______________________.

I would like to be a marine biologist. I love sharks and sea life, which is weird because I can’t stand seafood. One of my dreams is to go swimming in the Galapagos with the sharks.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to read. I can read as many as ten books in a month easily; it just depends on how busy work is. When work is really busy, books are my escape to quiet my mind.

What keeps you up at night?

Worrying about work is what keeps me up at night. I worry that there is something I haven’t done or I’ll worry about some issue that I haven’t resolved yet.

What is the professional accomplishment you are most proud of?

I am most proud of getting my CPA license. I didn’t take the “traditional” route to becoming a CPA as I was married and had kids while I was in college. I didn’t go straight to a CPA firm out of college but studied for the exam while I was working in industry and raising a family. I knew that if I wanted to be in the accounting world, I needed the CPA designation to accomplish my goals.

People don’t know this but…What is something (personal or funny) that people would be surprised to find out about you?

I have an artificial elbow. I was in a car accident in college and we had to do a full elbow replacement last May. I am actually not supposed to ever lift more than 8 lbs, which is difficult because 8 lbs is not a lot. I have adapted to doing a lot of things left-handed.

What have you enjoyed most about working in the profession?

I have enjoyed learning new things.

How did you make the decision to go into Private Industry?

I worked for a tax software company for five years after college. When I moved to New Mexico, I worked for a CPA firm for a year and became frustrated with the 70 hours/week requirements during tax season compared to the amount of work the CPA firm was actually able to give me. Back then, everything you did depended on you working those hours during tax season and staying billable. Back then the profession was a lot different than it is today. I have been with Gemini Rosemont Realty for 14 years where I developed the tax department and now I am the Manager of Tax and Investor Accounting.

What advice would you give someone starting out about choosing a career path?

I would tell them to take a hard look at what classes they enjoyed in college and recommend that they focus on that. I also recommend they get exposure to the options in public accounting as it is a valuable experience.

How has being involved with the NMSCPA benefitted you?

I have been able to meet a lot of very interesting and talented people. It’s given me the opportunity to build wonderful contacts with some very smart and talented individuals. You have people who can push you in the right direction to answer any questions you might have. I enjoy coming to CPE at the NMSCPA and I love the NMSCPA staff and the other members.

What do you like about serving on the Course Selection Committee?

It’s a good opportunity to shape the course offerings and hear from other committee members what CPA firms and other industries are looking to learn, where they are headed and what they are focusing on. It reveals where the CPA industry as a whole is moving.

Describe your “typical” day.

My typical day starts out with an hour commute to work (it may sound like a lot but I love living in the mountains and the drive is calming), nine hours of meetings, decisions, new challenges, and hopefully a little actual work, then a commute back home. My commute time is spent gearing up for the day and then slowing down from it. When I get home I enjoy fixing and eating dinner with my husband, spending time with my three dogs, and reading.