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Blog: Employee Spotlight: Jess Roper

Employee Spotlight: Jess Roper

What is your professional background?

I have had a couple of jobs before Vault. I started in the not-for-profit world in a variety of different types of nonprofits. I started out at a very philanthropic nonprofit that did development in South and Central America, and that is where I first got my feet wet in government grants. And then, I moved into a trade association, which is on the opposite spectrum in the nonprofit arena. My job before Vault was at a trade association and research institute for hospitals that also received government grants. Before Vault, I had eight years of experience. I did a little bit of everything including 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), and PAC accounting. I came to Vault as a senior consultant in July 2017, a little over two years go. In July of 2018, I was promoted to manager on the accounting side. I had gotten my CPA shortly before I was promoted to manager.

What is one outlandish, quirky, or fun thing about you that you do or occurs outside of Vault?

I think I’m one of the few people in the U.S. who follows international rugby. I played rugby in college. I just really fell in love with the sport. While I found my sanity when I turned 25 and stopped playing, I still follow the sport quite a bit. The U.S. has a team, but we’re not very good. The women’s team is ranked highly and does better than the men’s team, but, hey, it’s going to be an Olympic sport the next summer events, so maybe more people in the U.S. will take an interest.

Describe your role. Do you work for the research or accounting side of Vault Consulting?

I do a lot as a manager. I’m in charge of a couple of engagements right now. I just got a brand-new client that is pretty big for us. Most of my time is spent making sure their books are closed and getting them ready for their audit. I’m supervising a team of four working on this client right now. When I’m not getting clients’ audits ready, I prepare for board meeting presentations and make sure the day runs smoothly. I’m also really involved on a couple of committees at Vault.

I’m on the People Team for strategic planning. The strategic planning teams were put together to ensure that the firm’s leadership is all on the same page when it comes to the strategic goals of the organization and that we are working together to drive the company forward to meet those goals. Additionally, I head the Volunteer Committee.

I also have two mentees; they’re both consultants. One has been with Vault a little under a year and the other has been with Vault almost one year-and-a-half. I spend a lot of time coordinating them.

How did you discover Vault Consulting?

I tripped over Vault on LinkedIn. I was kind of looking for a new job but not really looking for a new job, and it just came up, and I somehow got involved. It was just like one of those meant to be moments.

How long have you been with Vault Consulting?

A little over two years.

What is one memorable moment about your interview process or about your first week/day at Vault Consulting?

The first person I met was one of our managing directors, Wes Tomer. I didn’t realize we were on a pretty strict time schedule. It was supposed to be only forty-five minutes, and we ended up talking for an hour-and-a-half. It was the first time I had told an accounting joke to someone who understood it and laughed at it. Before, when I was only in accounting departments, other people in the organizations didn’t understand accounting much less understand my accounting jokes.

What do you enjoy most about the Vaulters’ culture?

There are a lot of things I like. I really enjoy that we can joke around, but we know when to get serious. We have a stereotypical “work hard play hard culture”. It’s a culture of where we have high expectations from our employees, but the level of support we get because of those expectations is also high. We also recognize that we have to take some time to recharge at the annual retreat or happy hours. We try to have that balance. Really, it’s the culture of caring about your coworkers. You don’t realize that this type of culture isn’t in the workplace until you get to a place where it is there.

What has been the most surprising/challenging thing about working at Vault?

With a brand-new client, you never know what you’re going to get until you’re really in there. We have clients where we have great experiences, and you come out feeling satisfied with what you do, but sometimes there are instances where you feel frustrated or like you didn’t get accomplished as much as you wanted.

Are you a mentor or a mentee?

Everyone has a mentor. My current mentor is Catherine Robbins. I was kind of passed back and forth between her and Sara Stroud. I started out being assigned as Catherine’s mentee, but she went on maternity leave the March after I started. While she was out, I got a substitute mentor, Sara Stroud. After Catherine came back from maternity leave, I stayed with Sara. Then a few months later, Sara went out on maternity leave, so I got to choose Catherine as my mentor again.

It’s great that you have the one person who helps you set your goals and come up with a plan to meet your goal, but my experience has been that everyone at Vault wants everyone around them to succeed. There is always someone to reach out to with questions.

What are two valuable things you’ve learned or been taught by your mentor/mentee?

One of the things Catherine and I are still working on is saying “no.” I love to be busy; it’s one of those things where she is coaching me about being realistic about my schedule and the number of hours in a workday and how long things actually take to do. That is my biggest lesson learned from Catherine: either saying ‘no’, ‘not right now’, or some variation of that in order to not get overwhelmed. Sara taught me a lot. When Sara was my mentor, we were on a pretty big client together. We talked a lot about soft skills, such as dealing with difficult people.

Where do you see your Vault career taking you?

I want to be with Vault for as long as they’ll have me. I’m in it for the long haul.

If there were one thing you could say to future or current Vaulters, what would it be?

There’s a lot of things I would say. Listen to the people who came before you—the tenured Vaulters–the people who have been with the organization for a while and get to know how they got to be where they are. Learn from their experiences. Also, enjoy where you are now but always look for ways to grow.