We recently chatted with our controller, Susan Connery, about what it’s like to manage a virtual agency – well, virtually. It is not by coincidence that things run so smoothly around these parts. What’s our secret? We have a Susan.
Q: Can you share a little about yourself?
My husband and I live in McLean, Va., and have three children. We are thinking about adding a dog, but we haven’t taken the plunge just yet.
Q: When did you join The Mathews Group?
I joined the team very early on, when Melissa was starting her business in 2010. My next-door neighbor at the time saw an ad in a local mom’s group for some part-time operations support. I was still a new mom to a baby, so this seemed like a good way for me to transition slowly back into the workforce.
“I love the water and all activities involving balance. Stand-up paddleboard, skating and water skiing are my favorites,” said Susan. “I guess it sort of goes along with the accountant thing – we love everything to be ‘in balance’.”
Q: Tell me about how your career evolved as a corporate controller?
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1995, I went to work for Arthur Andersen as an auditor in Washington, D.C. Shortly thereafter, I got married and my husband and I moved to New York, where I worked in the treasury department for Revlon. Both positions were great for getting me grounded in the financials of running a business. Next, I went to JPMorgan, where I was a corporate controller for AT&T’s real estate portfolio. This was a valuable opportunity for me and challenged me professionally. When my husband was transferred to D.C. in 2001, I became one of the first remote employees at JPMorgan. I used to work from home two days a week and commute the other three. At the time, working remotely was very challenging. Technology was not as developed, we used VPNs that were painfully slow and clients were less supportive of this model. Today, it is a very common practice but in 2001, I was a bit of a trailblazer.
Q: What are some of the challenges you encounter working for a virtual agency?
I think with a flexible work arrangement time management is critical. Because you are not a full time employee and you are not a full time homemaker, you have to be very careful and keep clear divisions between work and home time. For example, I have established days for laundry, cleaning the house and running errands. I always work ahead and prep meals during the day while children are at school because of after-school demands. When I am working, I am completely committed to maintaining a quiet workspace. I focus on what needs to get done that day and make it my priority. It can be exhausting to put your life in boxes, but I find it’s the only way to stay ahead and allows me to really be present in the evenings and enjoy the simple moments with my family.
Q: What do you love most about the virtual agency model?
The flexibility in working remotely is so valuable. If a child is home sick from school and needs to go to the doctor, it can be managed pretty easily. The ability to reshuffle your work schedule takes a lot of the pressure off the family. The remote model at The Mathews Group affords me the opportunity to work and be a mom – I don’t always have perfect balance, but I certainly feel fortunate to be part of a great team.
Q: When you are not working, what kinds of things do you like to do?
I love to travel and to stand-up paddleboard (SUP). I discovered SUP while in Hawaii a few years ago and immediately fell in love. It’s an activity that is totally my speed.
I also really enjoy watching my children play sports, especially basketball and baseball games. It’s great family time for my husband and me, while also supporting the children doing something that they love.