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The Leading Edge: Lisa DeVaughn Foley

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Key points:

  • Lisa DeVaughn Foley rose from an intern to the CEO of Baldwin CPAs
  • She believes that her adaptability has been key to her success
  • Baldwin CPAs has gone through eight mergers in 15 years, which taught her a lot about internal relationships and specialization
  • She believes that difficult discussions bring the best results and has learned how to improve her problem-solving skills
  • During the pandemic, she organized webinars to keep her community informed and foster a safe environment
  • Foley reflects on the importance of technology for the firm’s evolution and how it has embraced generative AI and Chat GPT
  • She emphasizes the need for kind but honest conversations about employees or clients who are not a good fit
  • Foley played a role in elevating the firm’s CFO services and wants to change the image of the profession

Lisa DeVaughn Foley started her career as an intern at Baldwin CPAs and eventually rose to become the firm’s CEO. She believes that her adaptability has been key to her success. Foley joined the firm 30 years ago and worked her way up to partner in just six years. Although she initially thought her promotion was too quick, she now believes her employers saw something in her that she didn’t realize — her ability to adapt to new situations.

Baldwin CPAs has gone through eight mergers in 15 years, which Foley describes as a learning experience about internal relationships and specialization. While it can be difficult to see eye to eye with people who have different ways of doing things, Foley believes that difficult discussions are necessary to bring about the best results. She has learned how to improve her problem-solving skills and make decisions in uncertain situations.

The pandemic highlighted the importance of listening to team members and clients. As an executive, Foley believes that it is important to make critical decisions and inspire strength in others. She partnered with chambers of commerce and organized webinars to keep her community informed, fostering a safe environment. Foley believes in embedding important topics into the firm’s strategic plan and learning programs, such as cultural holidays, to promote openness and understanding among team members.

Foley emphasizes the importance of technology in the firm’s evolution. Baldwin CPAs embraced technology, such as generative AI and Chat GPT, to improve employees’ and clients’ experiences by removing repetitive tasks. Foley believes that reflecting on her 30-year journey has helped her know when to initiate change and consider its impact on everyone in the firm.

Foley believes that being able to have difficult conversations is an important aspect of leadership. Whether it’s discussing issues with clients or team members who are not a good fit, Foley believes that these conversations need to happen and should be conducted with kindness. She believes that asking questions early on is important for employers to make the best decisions for themselves and their employees.

Foley’s proudest accomplishment is her role in elevating the firm’s CFO services. She recognizes the importance of this department in making clients successful. Foley credits her mentors, Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin, for shaping her innovative mindset. She believes that the accounting profession has many benefits and wants to change its image and highlight the opportunities it offers for entrepreneurship and independence.

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