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Pre-Med Student Finds Career in Accounting

“I started with an office as big as this desk,” said Christina Talley with a smile. She sat at an expansive executive desk in her corner office that overlooks Flagstaff from San Francisco Street and Dale.

Last December, the CPA moved her business, Christina R. Talley CPA PLLC, into the two-story building that the firm purchased. “I started in Kingman with a laptop, a portable printer and a cell phone.”

Talley’s passion for excellent service has fueled the growth of her business from a backpack and laptop into a full-service accounting firm with a staff of seven and a 4,100-square-foot office building in downtown.

“When I was in college, deciding what I wanted to be, I was in pre-med. I always wanted to be a veterinarian,” Talley explained. During the summers, she worked in Staten Island, New York, for her dad, who had just left a successful career in chemistry to buy and operate a short-haul trucking company. Her father’s bookkeeper, the firm’s CPA, Bernard Del Rey, eventually influenced her career choice and mentored her.

“I changed my major to accounting largely because of those summers,” said Talley. After graduation, she held accounting positions for a variety of businesses in New York, including hospitals, credit card companies and Deloitte. “I learned from all these different companies before I opened my own. That has a lot to do with how I run things.”

As she established her business in Arizona, she would call Del Rey. “He was a wonderful resource,” she said.

Talley had quit working in the accounting industry to have children and be part of an Urgent Care business that she, her then-husband and others opened in Kingman. By 2006, she was ready for a change and interested in part-time work.

“‘Let’s do something for me,’ I thought. So, I opened my own [accounting] office,” Talley said. “Quickly, it blew up. Within a month, I knew it wasn’t going to be a part-time gig. The floodgates opened and business flooded in.”

Many of her clients could not come to her, so she took her backpack and went to them. Talley hired someone to help when she was pregnant with her third child. “With my big pregnant belly, I couldn’t get back behind my desk,” she said with a laugh, describing her small office.

Talley’s baby was born on March 14. “March 15 is the corporate tax deadline,” she said. She kept all her appointments on March 14, visiting clients at their workplaces. “My water broke, and I continued working. My last client was a nurse practitioner, and she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you really ARE ready to have that baby!’”

By the time her children started elementary school, Talley and her family moved to the mountain town in January 2010. She drove back and forth to serve Kingman clients as she built her client base in Flagstaff. After two months here, she started hiring others to help, and within two to three years, her Flagstaff business was equal to her thriving Kingman organization.

Holistic Approach

“The reason we were able to grow as quickly as we did is our holistic approach. We take a partnership approach with our clients because we care and take the time,” she said. “The team at Talley CPA PLLC has diverse backgrounds in medical, human resources and engineering, and so can advise based on a vast realm of business knowledge. I like to say, ‘Let us be your CFO and you can run your business.’”

She also offers this advice: “Be aware of your financial situation. See where your money comes and goes and adapt to the ever-changing environment.”

Talley serves clients around the world, including aircraft painters, auto dealerships, long-haul trucking companies, charter schools and chambers of commerce. FBN


By Stacey Wittig, FBN


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