In celebration of International Women’s Day, we invite you to learn more about the inspiring women leading Energy Center-Manhattan Pool. Throughout this month, discover their powerful stories and the impactful contributions that have led them here. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Mary Ellis who works here as our controller.
Q: How did you originally become interested in working in finance?
A: Math has always been my favorite subject; I like working with numbers. I like to use critical thinking and figuring out things.
Q: What is your educational background and how it has influenced your career?
A: What influenced my career was my twin daughters when I became a single mom. I started college while working full time and received my associated in accounting.
Q: How did you first get involved in the pool and spa industry?
A: When I applied for the position at Energy Center–Manhattan Pool.
Q: What has your career path been like and how did you get to where you are today?
A: Out of high school I waited tables. In my younger twenties I did finance for my husband and my company. I got certified as a travel agent but that wasn’t very satisfying. I became a single mom in 2005 and needed to support my daughters better so I went back to school while working full time and got my associates in accounting. I worked for a golf management company for over 8 years. I thought I wanted out of the finance industry, so I went to property management. Property management wasn’t for me; there wasn’t enough critical thinking. I saw a job posted for Energy Center–Manhattan Pool and I applied for it — here I am over 6 years later.
Q: What is your favorite part of working at Energy Center-Manhattan Pool?
A: I love working at Energy Center–Manhattan Pool. It’s not just a job, it’s a family. I have many things that I do for Energy Center–Manhattan Pool. Every day is different.
Q: Can you describe your experience with financial reporting and budgeting processes?
A: Prior, I was a site controller for a golf management company for over eight years. I would create annual budgets by corporate standards and make sure our site stayed within the annual budget. On a monthly basis I would do a month-end close, which consists of reconciliation of the Trial Balance. If there were any errors, I would research and correct the errors.
Q: Can you discuss a complex accounting challenge you faced in your role and how you solved it?
A: I started a new job so I was looking over the month-end reports and reconciliations. I noticed there wasn’t a balance on the bank reconciliations. I investigated and realized the bank account had not been properly reconciled for 3 years. I start at the last time the bank account was reconciled (3 years prior), and went through all the statements for each month and noticed there was about $7000 that was unaccounted for. I had been at my new job for about two weeks and I had to tell my boss that someone had stolen from the company.
Q: How do you ensure the accuracy and integrity of financial data and ensure compliance with financial regulations and reporting standards?
A: I stay up to date with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
Q: Can you talk about a time when you had to make a difficult decision in your professional life?
A: When I was property manager of three mobile home communities, I was working 55+ hours a week, I didn’t have time for my family. I decided to resign my position so I could have time with my family. I would do anything for my family, but the money was hard to walk away from.
Q: How do you stay motivated and maintain a good work-life balance?
A: When you work for a good company (family) it makes it easy to maintain a good work-life balance. You are not just a number, you are an actual person. This is what keeps me motivated. Who wants to let their family down?
Q: Can you talk about a time when you had to take a risk in your career and what the outcome was?
A: When I worked for the golf management company the site I was at was a one million dollar site. The company wanted to transfer me to a site (six-million-dollar site) in the suburbs of Chicago to be the controller. I accepted the position, I was there for six months and missed my daughters so much as they were still in Kansas. I resigned and moved back to Kansas to be with my daughters.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest work responsibilities and accomplishments?
A: My biggest accomplishment is starting college and receiving my degree as an adult, full time employee and a single mother. Managing someone else’s money is a huge responsibility daily. I treat the company’s money as if it is my own, I have a very watchful eye when it comes to money being spent.
Q: What is one project or initiative that you are particularly proud of and why?
A: When I worked for the golf management company, I created an app for the property I was at, which enabled people to book tee times online. This was approximately 12 years ago so there weren’t as many apps as there are today.