In her own words: TMWA’s Michele Sullivan
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position:
Michele Sullivan: TMWA (Truckee Meadows Water Authority) delivers water to over 385,000 customers in the Truckee Meadows. As CFO/Treasurer I am responsible for reporting accurate financial information. My finance team prepares the budget and long-range forecasts to ensure TMWA’s future financial success. I also monitor our investments and capital structure for compliance with policies approved by our Board of Directors.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Sullivan: I took an accounting class in college because I worked at a law firm in the bookkeeping department. I really liked the class and decided accounting would be a good career choice for me.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
Sullivan: There is always something new to learn in accounting. Right now I am learning more about public finance and government statutes. I have been in this field for almost 30 years and there are always opportunities for growth.
NNBW: What is the most challenging part about your job?
Sullivan: The most challenging, yet interesting, part of my job is learning all the intricacies involved in the successful operation of a water utility. It’s fascinating!
NNBW: What advice would give anyone who wants to get in your profession?
Sullivan: Consider getting your CPA license. I got my CPA license right away out of college and that experience was invaluable. I worked in a large firm and it was a tough few years, but it was a good start to my career.
NNBW: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you either professionally or personally?
Sullivan: To not be too hard on myself when things don’t go as planned. Relax, take a breath, and persevere.
NNBW: What kind of specific skills or educational advancement have you found are necessary to be successful in your field?
Sullivan: As a CPA you have to get continuing education every year, but you also need to develop your soft skills. People are important in every job, and you have to make an effort to get to know them, and show that you value their work.
NNBW: Is there one thing that you learned over your career that’s become vitally important in your job?
Sullivan: I need to delegate and trust my staff so that everyone feels like they are a part of the team.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Sullivan: I was a weekend maid in a small motel in the town where I went to high school.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Sullivan: I like to run and read historical fiction.
NNBW: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Sullivan: My favorite vacation spot would be going to Napa Valley with my husband.
NNBW: Is there a place around the world you have never been to that you would like to visit?
Sullivan: There are so many places I would like to visit. Paris would probably be first on my list.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Sullivan: I moved to Reno in 1989 when I got engaged to my husband. He is a Reno native, and we have raised our three daughters here. It is a great place for families because there is so much to do, and yet it is small enough that it doesn’t take hours out of your day to commute.
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