Lindsay Clark has always been interested in using her aptitude for logic and numbers to serve others. Though she attended the University of Virginia with plans to pursue a law degree, her experience creating a nonprofit during her college years and dipping her toes into the world of accounting opened new doors that excited her. She initially thought accounting might not be the right fit for her, but she quickly realized in her first job out of college that it could be a powerful path to helping others.
After graduating from the University of Virginia, the UVA Licensing and Ventures Group (UVALVG) hired Clark as an assistant to the business manager. Here, she was introduced to accounting basics and discovered that pursuing a CPA would be a much more rewarding career path. Though she did not have the requisite accounting credits under her belt yet, she began to pursue them during her time at UVALVG. It was the beginning of her 12-year journey toward being eligible for the CPA exam; she has just finished that journey, sitting for all of her CPA exams in the impressive span of ten months.
She acknowledges that every accountant’s path toward a CPA is different and spacing out the exams or working through them in rapid succession depends on a person’s unique experiences, timeline, and preferences. When she finally was able to take the CPA exams, Clark wanted to complete them as soon as possible.
“My motivation was wanting it so badly because it took me a while to figure out what I wanted, and then it took me so long to sit for it,” she says.
In her 10-year tenure at UVALVG, Clark capitalized on opportunities to learn as much as she could about the accounting world in an independent and trusting environment. She devoted herself to earning all the accounting credits she would need for her CPA and explored the many career possibilities along the way. In an intermediate accounting class, Clark stumbled across outsourced accounting as a possible career path.
“I was blown away by the idea that you could work for multiple nonprofits and help multiple clients at once who are all making a difference. It takes a lot of resources to have full-blown accounting in-house, so that’s when I started researching DC firms that offer outsourced accounting.”
The opportunity to use her unique skills to support not-for-profit organizations reminded her of some of her proudest accomplishments in college, especially founding a field hockey nonprofit that mentored high school girls and provided them with great coaching and competitive experience. As a coach, Clark found the opportunity to mentor players tremendously rewarding. Though Clark played field hockey herself for many years, transitioning to a coaching role gave her a new love for the sport from a different perspective.
“Sometimes it’s more fun to watch and coach—even more fun than playing.”
Clark’s talent for mentorship and management has become a central part of her work at Vault. She started as a Senior Consultant, where she worked onsite with multiple clients to support reconciliations and month-end closing. After a year and a half with the firm, Clark was given a new responsibility for overseeing the big picture of client relationships when she was promoted to Manager. She enjoys seeing the whole accounting process from start to finish.
Clark recalls discovering Vault as a fairly new organization. When she was invited to interview, she was eager to travel from Charlottesville, VA to meet the team in person. In addition to conversations with Vault leadership, she had the opportunity to meet with a recent hire from Richmond, VA. Clark recalls how friendly and positive the people and environment were, and she immediately knew she wanted to work there. A few months later, that recent hire became Clark’s mentee.
In describing what makes her a good fit for the Vault culture, Clark shares that she likes the focus on constant learning and improvement. Even when life and work unfold at a challenging pace, Clark appreciates her teammates’ dedication to one another.
“I like that they have high expectations and push you to improve, but still have fun,” says Clark. “They work hard to have a great culture, but one of the things that makes it special is the people. Anytime I ask anyone a question, their stories, experience, and advice—I’m blown away by their skillsets and how genuine they are.”
Clark describes the most challenging part of working at Vault as finding balance—she is naturally driven to do her best work but also knows she needs to have boundaries. As someone now responsible for managing client relationships at a higher level, COVID-19 has shifted the way her work gets done and how client interactions occur. Adapting to that new dynamic is an ongoing effort.
One bit of advice that she hopes all Vaulters will take to heart, though, is to absorb all the opportunities the firm offers.
“Engage with coworkers at events and happy hours. Take Vault U courses. Be up for new client assignments and be open-minded about where that will take you,” says Clark. She’s proud of her time at Vault so far and eager to continue learning and growing.
“So far, I’ve just learned an incredible amount in the last two years. I want to continue growing here and there’s so much to learn and experience. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
In addition to completing that long-term CPA milestone, her goal is to continue gaining exposure to the nonprofit accounting world.