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Client Spotlight - Jana Cinnamon

Firm Name: Abdo Eick & Meyers LLP

Location: Mankato, MN

# of Offices: 2

# of Partners: ~22

# of Employees: ~160

Rank of Firm: 31

Firms are constantly looking for ways to grow their business, but their biggest asset isn’t technology, strategy, or even their book of business, it’s the people that drive that success.

That understanding is what drew Jana Cinnamon, now COO of Abdo Eick & Meyers LLP, to take a training and recruiting position with the firm in 2012.

Cinnamon started her career in the training department at General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. With an undergraduate degree in communications, Cinnamon, a natural teacher, fell into training before deciding to pursue a Master’s Degree in Human Resources.

At that time, she heard about the opening at AEM and was excited for an opportunity to do both training and recruiting. “I didn’t have a background in recruiting,” Cinnamon says, “but working in training, I saw how important it is to hire the right people to be able to train them well.”

Cinnamon interviewed with Managing Partner Steve McDonald and was very excited about the possibility of working with him. “I could see his passion for people and how important they are to a firm’s success,” she says. “He didn’t see HR as just overhead.”

AEM’s HR Director was retiring in a few years and the firm planned on having Cinnamon move into the role at that time. But as Cinnamon took on additional responsibilities handed down by the outgoing HR Director, it became clear that the role was too large for one person, so the firm hired the first of several employees that would eventually report to Cinnamon.

Within three years, Cinnamon was named Talent Management Director, overseeing HR, training, recruitment, and performance management coaching. She was also pulled into more firm leadership roles, overseeing admin and IT for AEM.

Seeking a peer network

When Sandra Wiley invited Cinnamon to join the Boomer Talent Circle, Cinnamon jumped at the chance. “When I joined the firm four years prior, public accounting was completely new to me. I realized there were unique challenges in this profession, so it was hard just to go out and be involved in a general HR group locally. They’re having different conversations,” Cinnamon says.

She recognized that recruiting and retaining talent are different in public accounting. “Turnover is painful here because recruiting is so hard. You can’t easily fill positions. And it’s more of a challenge to get people trained up to speed.”

Cinnamon says the Boomer Talent Circle gives her an opportunity to connect with talent leaders in firms facing the same opportunities and challenges that AEM faces. “Everybody in the room has something to offer and something to learn,” she says. “There are a lot of ‘A-ha’ moments.”

Growth and development is a core value

One of the firm’s big initiatives is AEM University, a growth and development program aimed at helping staff transition from staff to senior to manager to partner.

“We have a saying here: ‘we get better every day,” Cinnamon says. At AEM, the 40 hours/year continuing education requirement is just the beginning. “Forty hours per year is compliance driven. That’s not what moves the dial forward on your career,” she says. They encourage people to figure out their passion and specialty and be purposeful about pursuing it.

Get to know Jana

Jana was born and raised in Minnesota and currently lives just ten miles away from where she grew up. She enjoys photography, reading, and traveling for cheer competitions with her nine-year old daughter, Sadie, and her husband, Dan, an IT consultant.

Jana says she could never have imagined at the start of her career that she’d be where she is today, and credits much of that to saying “Yes” and working with a great boss.

Keep doing what you do right and keep your mind open to what your career can look like. For a while, I was trying to figure out what the next step was. Once I just started saying yes, I moved my career into where my strengths were – somewhere I never could have imagined.”

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The Boomer Talent Circle™ Being a HR and talent professional in a CPA firm is essential to a firms success. Implementing initiatives to improve recruitment, retention, collaboration, and engagement can be challenging, especially without outside support. The Boomer Talent Circle™ helps HR and talent professionals get the support they need to become better HR and talent leaders and turn their firms into an employer of choice.

​The Boomer Talent Circle™ brings together HR and talent professionals from CPA firms with 100+ staff to share knowledge, experiences and insight to help one another be better HR and talent leaders. Members meet two times a year and stay connected between meetings via an online community platform. Click to learn more about the Boomer Talent Circle™!

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