Firm Name: REDW Advisors & CPAs
Location: Albuquerque, NM
# of Offices: 3
# of Partners: 40
# of Employees: 250
The transformative power of community and collaboration
Shawn Fisher, Director of Internal Technology at REDW, didn’t dream of being in IT from a young age. In fact, as an athlete and avid sports fan, Fisher went to college intending to become a teacher and coach. “But I took my first computer class, and I was like, ‘Oh, this seems easy,’” Fisher recalls. “After that, I got a help desk job on campus and changed my major to Business Administration with an emphasis on Computer Information Systems.”
While a career in IT isn’t quite as “easy” as it might have seemed in college, Fisher appreciates working with other firm leaders who support IT and recognize it as a strategic investment rather than a cost center.
“Here at REDW, we have great support from the top down,” Fisher says. “They really emphasize the complexity of our IT.”
Acknowledging that complexity is part of the reason Fisher’s former boss recommended the firm get involved in the Boomer Technology Circles. Fisher was hesitant at first. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to go to Kansas City and talk to a bunch of technology nerds. But after the first meeting, it grew on me.”
Leveraging valuable relationships (and friendships) with peers
As anyone managing technology in a CPA firm knows, it comes with unique challenges. With multiple departments and service lines within the firm, Fisher likens it to managing IT for multiple businesses rather than one organization.
“Hearing from others who feel that same pain helps,” Fisher says. “I appreciate being able to gather information at meetings and reach out to other members anytime to ask questions. Developing those networking/friendship relationships has been great.”
Those peer relationships came in handy recently when the firm considered implementing a particular software program.
“I reached out to the group, and a few people said they’d just moved away from that software, told me why it didn’t work for their firm and what they’re using instead,” Fisher says. “That saves a lot of time, energy, and frustration because I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I just have to put my own polish on it.”
Building trust internally
Another major improvement Fisher has made at REDW since he joined the Boomer Technology Circles is building a bridge between the IT department and other departments in the firm.
“For many years, it was very siloed,” Fisher says. “Other departments would tell us what they were going to do, and we just adapted and went forward with it. In the past three or four years, I’ve built a trust relationship between IT and other departments so we can assist with process improvement and better utilizing technology. It’s been a game changer for our firm. People now recognize we’re not just there to fix what’s broken. We’re very proactive about finding ways to improve processes and standardize things across the firm.”
Learning to try
One of the biggest benefits of joining a peer group is simply getting outside your box and learning to try new things.
“Leaning to open your mind to new ideas and share information with others has been a big benefit of the Circle,” Fisher says. “I think you have to learn to try. That’s the big piece when we started, was trying new things and learning from them.”
Building trusted relationships internally and externally and being open to new ideas has been a stepping stone for Fisher personally and REDW’s success. It’s a testament to the transformative power of collaboration and community.