If you could invite five people to a dinner party, who would they be?
Bach: If given this opportunity I would love to be in the company of successful women that have some fun stories to share and wisdom to pass along. Dolly Parton … Mary Barra … Serena Williams … Elisabeth Moss … Tory Burch … Bonus: pull up a chair, Jayme Parmakian … because if I don’t bring a friend no one will believe the dinner happened!
Parmakian: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Queen Elizabeth II and Kamala Harris.
Do you feel more or less optimistic about more women in leadership/government than you did five years ago, and why?
Bach: More optimistic. In the face of a global pandemic, many companies looked inward and redefined how their employee’s work. … Over the long run, I feel optimistic that a more flexible workplace creates a culture in which women can have equal opportunity to achieve their full potential.
Parmakian: I feel more optimistic about women in leadership roles because more women are supporting other women. I am seeing a shift in women treating each other as partners in business instead of treating each other like competitors in the same firm/company.
What’s one habit you’ve dropped during the pandemic you don’t ever want to start up again?
Bach: Eating out. 2020 was the year that creating a homecooked meal became not just essential, but almost mandatory. My husband picked up grilling during the pandemic and we have never looked back.
Parmakian: Always putting work before everything else. I learned (or really began understanding) that life is too short and that most co-workers and clients respect me more because I make my husband and son a priority.
What question do you wish we would have asked you, and how would you answer it?
Bach: Name a goal you are proud of. … Several years ago, I set a goal to run 1,000 miles in one year. … My 1,000-mile journey guided me through challenges and obstacles … and taught me there is no substitute for hard work, perseverance and consistency.
Parmakian: What is the best advice you have received in your career? The best advice I received was to “learn how to say no without saying no.” It is important to always be willing to help, but it is more important to know your limits so that you are able to stay mentally fresh and engaged.
What question are you tired of answering?
Bach: How hard is it being a working mom? I have learned a lot this past year. … Working full time is no joke and neither is parenthood. I am finding my balance with personal and professional responsibilities, and I am grateful to have such a strong support system.
Parmakian: Do you think we can continue to allow our employees to work from home? The answer is always YES as long as there is mutual respect between the employees and employer and there is constant communication.
Biggest challenge I’m facing:
Bach: People are one of our greatest challenges. Training and developing future leaders is a priority and the fight for good talent will continue to be a struggle. Covid has added to the challenge, as many people are remote and ensuring they build relationships and get the training they need to continue to progress has been difficult. We work in an industry that requires longer hours during certain times of the year, so retaining women who want to start families is also a challenge. They see very few women currently doing this and making it work, which makes them think it is impossible. Helping women see the many benefits of public accounting with a family, especially at a firm like LBMC, is something we continue to focus on. Embracing technology and the ability for employees to work from anywhere will continue to be important as it further supports flexibility and broadens the talent pool.
Parmakian: 1.The ability to train and develop our employees in the new remote work environment. We are also trying to make sure that we find a way to make and foster meaningful relationships with our employees and our clients/prospects. 2. Retaining women who are starting families and keeping them in the workforce. We are trying to come up with new ways to provide more flexibility to these women so that we can ensure LBMC is a good fit for them as they grow their families. We have hired a CPO and are evolving the Talent Division to enhance coaching and L&D this year, all positive steps in evolving to become a more female leader organization.
One book everyone should read:
Bach: My husband turned me on to a book called “Tribe of Mentors,” by Tim Ferriss. This book is different than anything I have ever read – it is a compilation of interviews from some of the world’s top performers in athletics, investing, business, music, etc. I have found the tips and tools useful, and the book has allowed me to reflect on the mentors and advice I have received throughout my career. One aspect I have enjoyed is the key takeaways or quotes that accompany each interview. For example, I will share one quote that resonated: “Great opportunities never have ‘great opportunity’ in the subject line,” by Scott Belsky (entrepreneur). It is a reminder that the best opportunities may not initially catch your attention, but whether you are looking for a new client, job, or even business opportunity – what makes an opportunity great is the upside. Don’t be afraid to seize opportunities when they present themselves, not when it is convenient or obvious. Life’s greatest opportunities run on their own schedule, not yours. In a bizarre year like 2020, this (and quotes like it) offer perspective – at a time when it is much needed.
Parmakian: “Eat That Frog,” by Brian Tracy. It taught me to deal with the more difficult tasks early instead of spending energy and timing stressing and worrying about them.
Song getting me through the pandemic:
Bach: “Ready for the Times to Get Better,” by Cody Jinks. During quarantine I was pregnant, so I rarely left the house. My husband took up grilling as a new hobby, so we spent a lot of weekends hanging out on the patio, listening to music and trying something new on the grill. This song really resonated – “It’s been a too long time with no peace of mind … I’m ready for the times to get better,” and helped me focus on all the good I had in my life (getting to spend quality time with my husband before becoming parents, becoming parents and slowing down some).
Parmakian: “Bones,” by Maren Morris – I heard this song on the way to work the morning of the tornadoes in Nashville. The lyrics talk about how when there are hard times, if you trust in yourself and the foundation you have built, you will make it through whatever you are going through. This has also resonated with me throughout the last nine months of the pandemic.
Courtney Bach/Jayme Parmakian
Category: Dynamic Duo
Title: Shareholder, audit and advisory, health care (Bach); Shareholder, tax, leader of transaction advisory tax group (Parmakian)