Happy July, Moms! This month we're introducing you to Victoria Haas, Certified Professional Accountant, Principal and Founder at Affinity Accounting! Get to know this amazing mom of 3 in our exclusive interview below!
Tell us a little about you and your family.
I have 3 kids - Ryan (6), Kyle (4), and Emma (3)
My parents migrated here from Taiwan in the 70's, and got their graduate degrees here in the states, both in computer science. After graduate school, they decided to stay with some family in Chicago. A big city like Chicago was a great place of opportunity during the time there were huge strides being made in software/engineering, the time of PC's becoming a household staple, and the birth of the internet. So this is where they decided to stay, and my brother and I grew up in the northwest suburbs as first generation children.
My husband is from the East Side of Milwaukee and we met in the Accountancy program at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. I honestly never thought I'd ever live anywhere except Chicago, but in 2015, we decided to move up to Milwaukee to be closer to family once we had our first kid. I am SO glad that we made that decision because it forced me to really step outside of my comfort zone and expand my circle. When we made the move up here, I felt anxious about starting all over again in a way, but Milwaukee has proven to be a genuinely welcoming and warm-hearted community. I didn't grow up around much extended family, so seeing our kids be able to play all the time with their cousins, Grandma and Grandpa, and aunts and uncles is just the best.
What is the best part about being connected with Working Moms of Milwaukee?
Being able to connect with and be amongst peers who understand exactly what it is you're going through is invaluable. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone when I feel overwhelmed with trying to juggle everything at once. On the flip side, it's really inspiring to see other moms who are great at what they do and who are leading by example.
What inspired you to become a business owner in the accounting field?
My dad was a business owner who owned an IT company doing computer programming, and he was my inspiration for going out on my own. He worked for himself; he chose how he did his business; he chose who he worked with; he chose his business culture; and he worked hard to be the best at what he did. I remember growing up seeing him pour over books of code because there was always something new to learn. We had bookshelves full of them. He used to tell me "You'll never be happy until you work for yourself." At the time, I took him literally, but I think now reflecting on that, it has a different meaning that I needed to find my sense of purpose and find work that I love.
In the public accounting world that I started out in, the emphasis was highly on the billable hour and facetime, almost like people wore the number of hours they worked at the office like a badge of honor. This is still widely the case, though things are evolving. The number of new CPA's coming into the field has dropped dramatically over time, and it's a real problem! We need to create a working environment that is sustainable, more forward-thinking, more balanced and that recognizes that the next generation values having autonomy and flexibility to do what they are personally passionate about. For me, I had just had my first kid, and being able to have flexibility to spend time with him was important to me, but I didn't want to have to compromise my career.
What's the best part of your career? Can you tell us a bit more about your business?
After working for mid-sized to Fortune 500 firms for a number of years, I felt unfulfilled and wondered what my purpose was going to be using the skills and knowledge I had accumulated. I would get questions all the time from family and friends about tax advice and so I started taking on a few tax returns here and there and I realized that I really enjoyed helping people sort their finances out. Small business owners have this level of passion for their jobs that is hard to come by, but often find themselves being pulled in too many different directions that don't allow them to actually do what they originally set out to do. I wanted to use what I had learned to help fuel their growth, ease their minds, and help them find a sense of clarity so that they could be better prepared to make the right business decisions for them. When you're equipped with that kind of knowledge and you have someone you trust that is looking out for you, it's a total game changer! So I started helping small business owners with their accounting and taxes. We're now a 4-person accounting firm that does more than just the transactional accounting and tax work. We act as a sounding board on business financial decisions for the owners and emphasize collaboration, commitment to our clients, and honesty. We're a modern firm that employs cloud-based technology that allows us to collaborate more effectively in real time with our clients.
Watching my small business clients grow and be awesome at what they do makes me really happy.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
One of our neighbors' kids (who is 8 years old) got stung by a bee on her foot recently, and our 3-year old daughter, Emma, took her by the hand and led her into our house where the first aid kit was. I followed them in to make sure everything was ok, and Emma was telling her to sit down and rubbing her back and asking her if she was ok. I helped her clean the site and bandage it up, but Emma was the real caretaker here!
What has been the most challenging part of this past year for you (and/or your family)?
Having to juggle homeschooling for 2 kids and keep a 2-year old out of trouble, while simultaneously maintaining the house and running a business is something I hope I never have to do again. However, I think the greatest challenge for me was learning the meaning of patience. There were so many unknowns and so many instances where we were told we just had to wait and see what happened. Plans went by the wayside, so we just had to focus on now and the time we had together and what we were going to do with that time.
Do you have a favorite place to go in Milwaukee?
One of my favorite go-to's is Red Light Ramen. It's intimate, unassuming, and they serve stellar ramen.
Do you have any words of advice for other moms, especially new moms?
Trust your mom instincts, and make the decision that is best for your situation and your family, even if it seems like everyone is doing something else.
Will you be doing anything fun this summer?
For us, we're hoping for a summer chock full of fun things. All the things that we couldn't do last year! Baseball games, brunch with friends, date nights out, pool/beach time with the kids, reconnecting with old friends, wine tastings, and a trip up north.
Check out Victoria's Company
Visit Affinity Accounting