She’s the Assistant Corporate Controller at Childress Klein & Board Member of CREW Charlotte A Conversation With Accounting Professional, Katie Barker
Q: Tell us about Childress Klein and your position as Assistant Corporate Controller?
KB: Childress Klein is one of the largest private, full-service real estate companies in the Southeast. Our firm has developed more than 50 million square feet of commercial real estate in multiple verticals and owns assets valued at more than $2 billion. We are passionate about creating environments that leave a lasting impact on our community.
My role as Assistant Corporate Controller is to provide support to the CFO, Corporate Controller and Division Controllers by executing various accounting functions and assisting as needed to ensure the efficient operation of the Accounting Department. While my duties and responsibilities can vary from day-to-day, I strive to align my goals with Childress Klein’s of delivering exceptional customer service, collaborating with clients, and building relationships that last.
Q: Why did you want to become a CPA?
KB: As I was pursing my degree in accounting, our professors strongly encouraged us students to consider taking the CPA exam. Having a CPA title opens up so many opportunities for ones’ career and employers are fully aware of the time commitment necessary to earn a CPA license. The designation speaks not only of ones’ work ethic and professional experience, but also of a certain level of mental aptitude. It is a demanding, but worthwhile process. I saw passing the CPA exam as an investment in myself and am proud to have those three letters behind my name.
Q: You also serve as a Board Member to CREW Charlotte, for those in our audience not familiar with the organization can you tell us about it along with your role as a Board Member?
KB: CREW Charlotte is a professional organization consisting of a diverse group of women and men engaged in real estate and the related service industries; from real estate brokers, developers, engineers and architects to attorneys, lenders, and accountants like myself. Our core purpose is to transform the commercial real estate industry by accelerating the achievements of women. We strive to establish a network for the development of new ideas and business relationships, provide education and leadership development opportunities for members, and support activities that positively affect our community.
As a Board Member, I am an advocate of the organization and currently provide support to our Sponsorship Committee. Our team of volunteers raises money annually to help provide scholarships for local females pursuing higher education in the field of commercial real estate and for our annual programs. In addition, we promote our business sponsors at every opportunity available throughout the year and insure they are receiving all benefits associated with their sponsorship.
Q: What was your first job? And how did it shape or impact you?
KB: My first job after college was with Elliott Davis, a top forty accounting firm in the United States, as a staff tax accountant. Working for a public accounting firm exposed me to a wide variety of clients, from small business owners to large corporations. This exposure helped me build a strong foundation of the accounting principles. I was not only able to advise my clients on the tax implications of their business, but also developed an understanding of the full financial accounting cycle from booking journal entries to preparation of financial statements. As my career progressed, I specialized in the real estate industry, which eventually lead me to my current position today with Childress Klein.
Working in public accounting also taught me valuable lessons of being an ally of our community. Elliott Davis was passionate about having their employees give back to our community through time and volunteerism. This led to my current involvement and advocacy with both CREW Charlotte and the Dowd YMCA. My involvement with these organizations was directly aligned with my personal values of accelerating the advancement of women and building a healthy body, spirit, and mind for all. When I transitioned from public accounting to the private sector, it was a top priority of mine to find a company that held the same values for community enrichment. I was very fortunate to find this at Childress Klein.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
KB: Everyone is different, but for me having an organized calendar and daily “to-do” list helps me stay focused on my goals and ultimately help manage my work-life balance. Being able to cross off items brings a sense of accomplishment and control, even if it is as simple as “create my daily to-do list.” Some days I cross off more on my list than other days, so giving myself some leeway when I am not where I think I should be has been a lesson I have had to learn over the years. While, my career is of utmost importance to me, I would not be able to accomplish my short and long-term goals without allowing time for myself. Being a college athlete, I have always prioritized health and make sure to carve out time to exercise. This helps me manage my emotional and mental health, but I encourage everyone to find what is right for you!
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
KB: The women of CREW Charlotte inspire me through their advocacy of other women, natural leadership, and authenticity. They advocate for each other through a one-on-one mentorship program. This program pairs a mentee and a seasoned real estate professional together to support and empower the mentee’s career. These women understand that sharing their experience and hard work can help bring action and innovation to a young women’s goals. Another program blossomed from the women of CREW Charlotte’s passion for creating opportunity for young woman in commercial real estate was the Authentic Leadership Program. This program guides women on an intensive journey through self-discovery, arming them with tools to achieve their full authentic leadership potential. These women are fierce and continuous strive to provide opportunities to advance women through education, networking, recognition, and leadership.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
KB: Your social relationships are the single greatest investment you can make. Take the time to surround yourself with a social support system that will push you, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to be the best version of yourself. These individuals will be your biggest assets and advocates as you progress through every aspect of life.
Five Things About Katie Barker
1.If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Brené Brown. Not only is she a New York Times bestselling author, but also she has an incredible podcast called “Unlocking Us.” Her words of courage and leadership are thoughtful and actionable, without feeling overwhelming. Brené is also not afraid to speak about vulnerability, shame and anxiety and normalizes those uncomfortable topics. I could sit down with her and a glass of wine and talk for hours on end.
2. Is there any product that you couldn't live without?
Coffee. The aroma that drifts through our home in the mornings makes starting the day a little easier.
3. Cake or Pie?
As long as chocolate is involved, I can do either.
4. What app can’t you live without?
Currently, the New York Times Crossword Puzzle app. During the initial unsettling weeks of COVID, and its impact on our normal day-to-day, my husband and I began to carve out 15 to 20 minutes a day to work on a puzzle together. It was something we began to look forward to each day and provided a bit of consistency to a world of unknown. We have officially made it through a Monday puzzle without having to check our answers as we go!
5. Favorite City?
Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. This charming city is just south of Avignon and surrounded by the beautiful countryside. The quant streets are lined with plenty of restaurants and boutiques and you cannot turn a corner without the smell of fresh croissants baking!