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5 questions with Lori Davis

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at 11:35 p.m.

Lori Davis holds two jobs at Grant Thornton. In one, she is a tax partner. In the other, as office managing partner, she manages the firm’s Wichita office, which has 53 employees.

Now, she’s added a third role.

Davis was elected to her Grant Thornton’s partnership board and began her three-year term this year. She’s one of 10 Grant Thornton partners across the country — from a field of 550 partners in 55 offices in 29 states and the District of Columbia — to serve on the board, which is responsible for advising and evaluating the company’s senior leadership team, including its chief executive. The board meets monthly. Davis said the meeting and travel time generally amount to three days a month, except during tax season, when the meetings become video conferences.

Davis said she had to campaign for a seat on the board and did it primarily because she wanted to get to know more of its partners — and for them to get to know her.

“I called 180 partners around the firm,” she said.

Davis was told she probably wouldn’t win election to the board her first time around.

Q. What does the election to the partnership board mean to you, personally and professionally?

A. Personally I think it was just nice to know the partners around the country have that much faith in me to be part of the governance of the firm. Professionally, it’s always been one of my goals to have a role in the partnership board … and I think overall, it will make me a better partner.

Q. You’re coming up on completing your third year as office managing partner. What are a couple of things you have learned in the role that either you didn’t know, or made assumptions about, only to learn those assumptions were incorrect?

A. I didn’t have a lot of expectations about the (managing partner) role. Unfortunately, there’s no manual. So my expectations were I had no idea what to expect, but I have learned a lot about being agile and flexible because my days never go as planned. I’ve also learned to delegate and rely on people more. It’s just pretty incredible … if you give people the opportunity, they will step up.

Q. What is a typical day like for you?

A. Since I carry a large client load, it’s almost like another job on top of my management job. I probably spend most of my day in calls, meetings, spending time with staff. … If I need quiet time, I have to do it at night. I can rarely do that throughout the day because I have so many phone calls … just lots of interruptions.

Q. How did the delay in reauthorizing federal tax credits set to expire at the beginning of the year affect your office’s workload?

A. We had intelligence from our (Washington) D.C. people that most of those were getting extended so we were going status quo. What has impacted our workload are the new taxes that have come into play … the changes that came about from the (federal) health care act.

Q. What are your expectations for the performance of the Wichita office in 2013?

A. Our fiscal year ends in July, so we are on track to exceed our budget for this year. I think beyond that, we have such a good, strong, talented workforce here, I have very high expectations that we will continue to grow. We’re seeing more activity from our clients, a little bit of positive momentum. We’re seeing more positive than negative if you look out 12 to 18 months.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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