Thursday, January 26, 2012
Trusted Advisor: Damon DeSue, CPA
“I wanted to give my kids something I didn’t have,” DeSue said. “I wanted them to be in one place and be able to establish those relationships with people.”
Through his professional moves, DeSue has maintained his membership in state CPA societies, particularly the VSCPA. Now he's putting his stamp on the Society as the 2011–2012 chair of the VSCPA Board of Directors.
Today, nearly half of VSCPA members work in business, industry, government and education; DeSue is no exception. While he spent the formative years of his professional career in public accounting, he hopes to use his position and rise within the VSCPA to attract even more members from business and industry.
“Hopefully, we can establish a more direct tie-in to the value of the membership — not only how it applies to public practice, but to our members in business and industry,” he said.
The VSCPA has plenty to offer members working outside of public accounting, and DeSue wants to educate those CPAs on the value of membership.
“Primarily, it’s the professional development opportunities,” he said. “…When you’re in public accounting, you have chances to work on communication and public speaking skills. That only happens at a certain pace when you’re in industry. When you take it back, you’re really enhanced to contribute to your employer.”
Adding more members with a background like his own, DeSue says, can help the VSCPA ensure that it serves the needs of all CPAs in Virginia in the years to come.
DeSue had been a member of the Illinois CPA Society after moving to Chicago with his job at KPMG. He set his sights on a move back to Virginia and landed a job at Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, LLP, before moving to Dollar Tree in 2006.
He joined the VSCPA in late 2001 and didn’t waste much time getting involved. He joined his first committee, the Tax Appeals Task Force, in 2004, and kept coming back for more work.
“Some of it is a function of the work I was doing. I was specializing in state and local tax at the time,” DeSue said. “Issues in Virginia that were impacting local taxpayers were near and dear to my heart. It was a connection to my work that kept me involved.”
Committee memberships dot DeSue’s VSCPA history: Young Professionals Task Force, Speakers Bureau, Tax Advisory Committee, CPA/PAC Board of Trustees, Virginia Department of Taxation Task Force, State Apportionment and Legislative and Regulatory Task Force, among others, before his term as the Board’s chair-elect last year. His heavy involvement in VSCPA activities made him a perfect choice to take the reins.
“It just sort of was a natural progression from being involved with the task forces to learning more and more about what the organization was about,” he said.
DeSue pegs the beginning of his interest in the accounting profession at 12 years old, following a school event. From that point, every school decision he made came with an eye on his future career.
“I was living in California at the time and we had a career day,” he said. “A person brought some articles about what it was to be an accountant and the demographics of it and who was following that career path. I’d always liked math, so I just carried on with that.”
DeSue moved with his family from Virginia to California as his father, Anthony, went to different bases. He attended East Carolina University for his bachelor’s degree before getting his master’s from the University of Georgia.
He stayed in Georgia to work for ZF Industries, an automotive manufacturer. He moved to Atlanta, then Chicago, after taking a job at KPMG, then found his ticket back to Virginia with Cherry, Bekaert & Holland.
DeSue took the reins of the Board in the midst of a struggling economy. His company is dealing with the downturn as well, and the chain of discount stores is poised to capitalize on Americans’ increased frugality.
“Given today’s economy, we are positioned well enough to provide value for just about anyone,” DeSue said. “Anyone can walk into our stores.”
DeSue often finds himself giving financial advice to friends and acquaintances in his personal life. He says his status as a CPA gives his tips added weight.
“People are looking for people who are financially savvy and know how these kinds of things work,” he said. “People are looking to CPAs to help them with the challenges they face financially.”