Bob and Donna Taylor
Bob and Donna Taylor have known each other since they were children in the small North Carolina town of Norlina. The two worked together for 30 years at two different firms, most recently serving as partners at Potter & Co. CPAs, where Bob still works. Donna recently left public accounting to launch her own CPA coaching company, Fulfillment Coaching.
One key to a healthy relationship, Donna said, is to “respect each other’s opinions, decisions, and ways of doing things, even when different from your own.” This is especially important when you’re part of a couple that works together. “When we have different opinions on how a business matter should be handled, someone gets the final word,” she said. “You have to learn to be OK with that and not take it home.”
Dale and Tonya Flesher
Before he even thought of asking for Tonya’s hand in marriage, Dale Flesher had to get approval from his supervisor at Ball State University to ask her on a first date. When they met in 1969, Dale was an accounting instructor and Tonya was a student and a grading assistant for an accounting professor whose office was near Dale’s.
The couple have now been married 45 years and have two children. Both hold doctoral degrees and are professors at the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi. Tonya was the first female dean at the university, serving as dean of the School of Accountancy from 1987 to 1993, and Dale is currently associate dean.
Dale and Tonya timed their family vacations to coincide with accounting meetings. That wasn’t a bad thing, Tonya said: Their daughter celebrated her 13th birthday in a 1,000-year-old French castle at a dinner for the World Congress of Accounting Historians. Tonya credits the strength of their relationship to Dale’s patience and positive attitude.
“I’ll add that the secret to a long relationship is the ability to share,” Dale said. “You should always share everything with your spouse. If you go in the kitchen to get a snack, get her one too.”
Ryan and Jeannie Ihde
Ryan and Jeannie Ihde met in 1997, when both were working at Arthur Andersen. Ryan was the senior staff accountant on Jeannie’s first auditing job, and the two also played on an indoor soccer team together. Two years later, after Ryan left the firm, he and Jeannie dated and were engaged after a romantic proposal in Venice, Italy. Nearly 15 years later, the couple have three boys (ages 13, 10, and 7) and a 1-year-old vizsla they call Copper.
Jeannie started her own practice in 2005, and in 2009, the couple joined forces to create Ihde CPA, PC.
“The best part about working together is we get to see each other every day and spend quality time with our kids,” Jeannie said. “Setting our own schedules is nice, as Ryan is able to coach our kids in soccer and lacrosse and be with the kids more. The most challenging aspect is working a lot of hours January through June with three active kids.”
Even at the height of busy season, the couple make time to go to lunch once a week.
“My best advice is to laugh a lot, do things together that you both enjoy, and go on dates regularly,” Jeannie said.
John and Joan Renner
John and Joan Renner have been married 13 years. One of the keys to their relationships is honoring boundaries between their home and work lives as partners at Renner & Co., a firm that has grown to 35 employees since John founded it in 1989.
“We only work when we physically are at the office,” said Joan, who, like her husband, is a CPA and CGMA. “When we go home, we’re generally not working, and we don’t talk about work until we’re back in the office. It makes your home your refuge.” Outside of work, the Renners enjoy traveling together and have visited Brazil, Australia, Scotland, Aruba, and other destinations.
Working with your spouse can bring you closer together, Joan said.
“Typically, when you’re focusing a lot at work, that can take time away from your family,” she said. “But what we do to build the firm really brings us closer together. When you succeed, it feels like you accomplished something together, not just for your firm, but for your family.”
Mark and Lisa Soticheck
Mark and Lisa Soticheck met at a networking event for young accountants. They ended up working at the same firm once Lisa graduated from N.C. State University, and the two dated for five years before Mark, a CPA, CGMA, and now chief operating officer at Fidelity Bank, proposed on a trip to New England where he grew up. The couple were married in 2012 and are expecting their first child.
“Not only did accounting bring us together, but it helped the both of us develop the professional skills and knowledge for our current positions within industry,” said Lisa, a CPA, CGMA, and a financial analyst at Duke Raleigh Hospital. “Our joint accounting backgrounds have also introduced us to some of our closest friends and inspire things we find important—like the promotion of financial literacy.”
With Mark’s current role on the AICPA Council, the Sotichecks have had opportunities to travel to places such as Hawaii to learn more about their professions while also spending quality time together.
Photo ©f8 Photo Studios.
Samiha Khanna is a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C.