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Ryan: Hello, and welcome to the Briggs & Veselka podcast. My name is Ryan Gore, and today we are joined by Sheila Enriquez and David Spray. Sheila, needing no introduction, is the CEO and managing partner of Briggs & Veselka and David Spray is a former CPA and the founder and president of Export Advisors Inc. a consulting firm that specializes in the IC-DISC tax savings program. Before founding Export Advisors, Mr. Spray served as the CFO for a privately held company in Houston and later served as the director of business development for a Houston based CPA firm. In this episode, they will both discuss growth within Briggs & Veselka, and as well as the challenging era as Sheila Enriquez took over as CEO and managing partner within the firm. Please enjoy the episode and look forward to more episodes as they come out.

David:

Hi, my name is David spray, your guest host for the first episode of the Briggs & Veselka podcast. My guest today is Sheila Enriquez, the managing partner and CEO of the firm. Sheila's not only a CPA, she's also an attorney and on a more personal note, she's one of the most impressive people I've ever met. Yet, despite her success, she's also one of the nicest and most gracious people I've ever met. Good morning, Sheila, how are you today?

Sheila:

Hi, David, I'm well thank you and I appreciate the kind words and I'm so looking forward to this conversation.

David:

That is great. Well, let's get started. So why don't you tell me a bit about the firm, its history, and your role?

Sheila:

Sure, sure and you'll have to stop me if I get too long because I just get really passionate about the firm.

David:

Fair enough.

Sheila:

So Briggs & Veselka is the largest independent firm in Houston. We are a 47-year-old firm and founded by Johnny Veselka and Mr. Mel Briggs in 1973 and as a CPA firm, a full service firm, that actually has all of the typical services that you see in CPA firms, tax, audit, but then we also have expanded consulting services that tie into the financial consulting that we provide to our clients.

Sheila:

We now have offices not just in Houston, which is where we're headquarters, but we also offices now in Austin and the Woodlands. We also have an office in El Campo, Texas, which is about an hour, 15 minutes from Houston, and we've had that office for over a decade. So, we are excited about the future. We feel like there's a place for a firm like us that are more geared towards entrepreneurs, but also with our expanded consulting services, where we're able to serve even larger organizations.

David:

Okay. Yeah, thank you for that summary. So talk to us about your role. What do you do as the managing partner and CEO?

Sheila:

Sure. I actually took over about three years ago now as the managing partner, CEO of the firm. So in my role, I help and lead the strategic vision of the firm in terms of our growth strategy. I'm also very heavily involved in the people side of the business in terms of developing and training people, future leaders of the firm, and working with the partners in building their business plans within each of their practice areas. So largely for me, the day-to-day, really it revolves around making sure that we're executing on our strategic goals, but then also always looking at the long view and making sure that we're staying on top of the trends in our industry. A big part of what I do as well is change management, because we're in this world now of disruption. So, change is the one thing that's constant as you know, with any business.

Sheila:

In addition to managing the firm, I still continue to serve clients, specifically in the audit side, as well as I lead our litigation support valuation practice, which is near and dear to me because that is one practice that I had started in the firm about a decade ago. Seeing it flourish and grow is just a big point of pride. I'm very, very happy that we have built a, a good number of people now in the team that will just help continue to grow that practice.

David:

No, I can imagine why you are pleased with the progress of that. That's a great additional service for the firm. So why don't we talk a bit, let's drill down a little bit to a little bit more about your background. So, are you a native Houstonian?

Sheila:

No, I actually, I came as fast as I can, but I'm not a native Houstonian. I actually moved here from New England, from Providence area about 15 years ago now, it seems like yesterday, but I grew up in the Philippines. I actually was born and raised in the Philippines. So I only came to the United States in 1992 to pursue and finish my associates degree in business through a scholarship program that actually allowed me to study in Japan for a year and a half prior to coming to the United States. It's through a theater school at the State University of New York, Sullivan County Community College, which was a great experience just in terms of initial exposure to studying in the United States. So, it took me a while to get here, but we love it here. We are now Houstonians.

David:

That's great. So, what made you decide on the accounting profession?

Sheila:

Oh, that's actually a story of serendipity. As I had shared earlier, I received my associates degree from SUNY SCCC and then luckily I was able to get another scholarship to attend Mercy College in Westchester, New York to pursue my four-year degree in business administration, focusing on management. By the way, my husband, Jose also was one of the 10 students that came to the US and we've been married now ... our anniversary's coming up actually in a few days, May 6, but he and I both got a scholarship to attend Mercy College. He ended up pursuing accounting, but I ended up pursuing management, really around human resources, HR management.

Sheila:

It's a little bit of a long story, but I think one that will probably show just how fate and luck go hand in hand. But my last semester, spring semester of, I believe it was 1994, I had remaining credits to get my elective, so three credits of electives. I decided to ask if I can pursue a graduate credit, quantitative analysis. I needed to speak to the dean of the graduate program of Long Island University that happened to be on the same campus as Mercy College. So they had a joint partnership to have LIU have that MBA program in the campus.

Sheila:

So, long story short, I went ahead and talk to the dean, Wayne Cioffari, about the possibility of getting the three credits graduate class. He, in that conversation, actually recommended, and he highly encouraged me to pursue my accounting degree and sit for the CPA exam because I had to bring my blue sheet. I don't know if you know that, but it's the one where you have all of your grades. It's like your transcript that shows all your grades?

David:

Sure.

Sheila:

I happened to have a 4.0 GPA and he asked me if I would be interested in serving as a graduate assistant for him, working 20 hours a week in exchange for full scholarship to attend the MBA program after I graduate, because he started ... He was ahead of his time. He started what he called a four plus one MBA CPA program. So it was the five-year program, so the equivalent of a PPA that we now have in many schools. This was before the advent of the 150 credits. It was just starting, for you to be able to sit for the CPA exam. So that was serendipity for me, for sure, because I was on a student visa. So after graduation, I would have needed to find an employer to sponsor me for my working visa or have to go back to the Philippines.

Sheila:

So it really just changed my whole trajectory because through Wayne, I was able to continue my scholarship with Mercy to pursue my public accounting degree, while at the same time taking MBA classes. So if you look at my resume, it's always a point of question when people see it. I finished my undergraduate in May of '96 and got my MBA degree in September of '96.

David:

Oh, wow.

Sheila:

Then I sat for the iexam in November of '96, which I passed and got the results in February of '97. So really, it was one of those ... I tell people that I mentor all the time, be open to the opportunities because you just don't know what door is going to open for you and just be on the lookout. But that's how I became a CPA. Now I'm so passionate talking about it because this profession has been incredibly good to me, and the firm, they're intertwined. The CPA profession, the firm, I just absolutely love this profession. I'm happy to share with you, David, I don't know when we last spoke, but my oldest 18 year old is also going to pursue business now. He's told me that he's going to pursue a county, he just got accepted to UT McCombs.

David:

Oh that's awesome.

Sheila:

Yeah, so continuing the legacy, so to speak. I hope that he likes it, but yeah, I talk to a lot of students about the CPA profession because of the degree of flexibility and opportunities and just also the ability to make a difference at the end of the day to our clients, to our people, to the community. It's just really a wonderful, wonderful profession.

David:

Yeah, I totally agree. As an alumnus of the University of Texas, I would say he made a very good choice on the school he selected.

Sheila:

Yeah, it was a close call because his dream university has always been UCLA. So, if you had asked him when he was in middle school and high school, it was always UCLA and he did get accepted to UCLA. So it came down to UT McCombs and UCLA, but he decided to stay in Texas. I'm very grateful as a mom, that he decided to do that.

David:

Sure, I bet you are well, and I didn't realize about your shift in your academic path. So it's really kind of a full circle, isn't it? Because you started off with your focus and management and HR and in your job today, you really are doing more management and HR than you are accounting, right, I'm guessing?

Sheila:

Oh, no question, no question. Actually, I have to say, even in the beginning of my career, because if you think about different clients that you deal with, it really helped me having that training around human resources and organizational behavior. I always say that this role, being the managing partner and CEO, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would accomplish this. But at the end of the day, when I look at the things that I do on a day-to-day basis, all the experiences that I've had, because I did have opportunity to work at a couple of organizations, including Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester, New York, as an HR assistant. All of that experience and all of the training I've gotten has really helped me in running the firm. Even my legal degree, which I had pursued afterwards has come just a tremendous, tremendous resource, that I'm grateful for.

Sheila:

I always joke about the whole attorney and counselor at law. It's the counselor part, I think that I tend to leverage. But yes, the people part is key because we are a people business and at the end of the day, the thing that is most fulfilling to me is the fact that I do deal with our associates and our clients every day and seeing them grow, seeing them succeed is just very gratifying for me.

David:

Yeah. I can hear it in the passion, in your voice. So going back a few years, so you've been managing partner and CEO for about three years. How far back did the idea first come up in your head that you might actually be able to attain such a position? Because you said, you never imagined in your wildest dreams and I'm guessing there was a time, more than a day before you were elected to be managing partner, that it probably started to dawn on you. Do you remember about how far back it was that that idea first…

Sheila:

It's very clear to me. It's very, very clear to me when that happened. I credit John Flatowicz whom you know. He was the managing partner of our firm prior to me taking over. He still is a partner at the firm and he's really been my mentor throughout the years. The one thing about John is he has created so many opportunities for so many people in the firm. I worked closely with him when I first started with the firm 15 ago on jobs. I really learned from him the idea of surrounding yourself with the best people, and empowering, and just allowing people to grow and flourish. I'm one of the beneficiaries and there's so many in the firms that were the products of just his guidance and mentorship, but it was really him.

Sheila:

It was probably 2017 timeframe. I was on the executive committee at the time and certainly already part of the team that was thinking about the strategy for the firm. I did a lot around the people side of things, training, mentoring. I also handled many of the complex audits that we do, public company audits, larger audits around specific industries. Then of course, leading the litigation support practice, which at the end of the day, that was a great training for me in understanding how to build a practice and how to motivate and how to build your team, in terms of managing those, those practice areas.

Sheila:

But really, it was John who came to me and said, "I think you're the right person." He says to me one day, " ... to take over." I mean, you can talk to him because he can probably share with you what my face looked like when he said that, because I certainly did not expect it. I even asked him, I was like, "I'm not sure that I wouldn't even know where to begin." So it took me a while to be honest, to be able to get my head wrapped around the idea of managing the firm, because at this point, I think we were about $30 million in revenues and we were actually ... We only had two offices then, Houston and El Campo, but looking to grow and continue to grow and under John's leadership, we tripled in size.

Sheila:

So I just felt like I wasn't equipped, and by the way, I was carrying a large book of business and leading a growing practice of litigation. So it took a lot of self-discovery and discernment and a lot of prayer. My faith is what really carries me throughout everything that's happened in my life up to this point. So a lot of prayer, a lot of discernment as to what my purpose truly is. So, with John's guidance, and also he promised me that he was going to be there with me as we were transitioned, was supposed to be a two-year transition by the way. I think fate just intervened again, where I had to take over in 2018, July of 2018.

Sheila:

But I think what really compelled me to pursue it was I wanted to share my vision of where I think the firm can go. I know I hadn't had a chance to talk to you a lot about the firm just yet, but maybe this is a good place as any to talk about it. I just saw this tremendous gift, that Johnny, Mr. Briggs, they started with Steve and John Flatowicz, Steve Awalt, John Flatowicz, Gary Trochta, Charlie Weller, Meresa Morgan, Mark Shaaf. I'm hoping I'm not missing anyone, but the senior partners, right-

David:

Right, right.

Sheila:

... that are the foundation and you've worked with them because we've had the privilege of working with you at some point too. I think it was really just that recognition that we have this amazing firm, that at this point was 44 years old, and great reputation, largest independent firm in Houston, third largest in the Southwest, culture beyond what I could even hope for. That's people focused, very inclusive, clients that have been with the firm for years. But one thing about the partners, they have always been very forward thinking. John in particular has always been very forward thinking about what else can we do beyond the core? We value our core services, our tax and audit, that's our bread and butter that will continue to be an important part of our firm.

Sheila:

But there was also a recognition at the time that I was thinking about running, that it's a changing world. We are being disrupted by technology, by innovation, by change. So, at that time David, I was on the executive committee, but I haven't run a department. It's one of those things where my experience was really more outside of the firm, because I was just finishing up my term as president of the Houston CPA Society, which there's so much parallel to that experience, because at the end of the day, you're managing members, that are ... For me, I felt like I needed to shepherd the firm through a change.

Sheila:

So, I've shared this with many people, when I look at the firm and how it's evolving. With Johnny, that was our formative years, from infancy to maybe when we're preteen, right?

David:

Right.

Sheila:

Because that's when we're forming our culture and Johnny, if you haven't met him, I love Johnny. He just is the most down to earth person you could ever meet. That smile on his face when you see him, he just lights up the room, you know?

David:

A true Southern-

Sheila:

... and I just had such respect.

David:

Yeah, a true Southern gentleman.

Sheila:

Oh, yes, yes, yes. I'm getting emotional, even thinking about it because he still comes to our events and he really has embedded that culture about putting people first. Then you have John who also started our audit practice from scratch, right?

David:

Yeah.

Sheila:

... and has been that visionary of growth. If you meet John, he's got this can do ... nothing will stop him. He's just going to keep going and he is just so dedicated to the firm. So I knew I had big shoes to fill. I look at John and he shepherded us through our growth spurt, where we grew threefold under his leadership. I call that the teenage years, you know?

David:

Right, right.

Sheila:

I've got an 18 year old and I've got an 11 year old, so I understand the growth spurt that happens and all the hormones and all of the discovery, right, that happens?

David:

Right.

Sheila:

And the tension that comes with it. Then I felt like, there's this opportunity now, if I were to take this on, and if it was meant for me to shepherd the firm to adulthood, so to speak, right?

Of like now we're 18, now we're going to figure out, okay, we've been given this amazing gift. How do we set it up so that we continue to scale? Because with growth comes pain. I think the one thing that I realized, being on the executive committee is we needed to reset, and realign, and rethink, like where do we go from here? And how do we put the things in place in order to grow the right way? So that's the whole premise of my presentation to the partners when I ran for managing partner, is not so much what I've done because arguably, I probably was still considered a newbie because from a tenure perspective, I've only been with the firm at that point, I believe 12 years, which you've met our partners, partners that have been here 25, 30, 40, a lot of more tenured partners than me.

Sheila:

But at the same time, my passion for the firm and my passion for the profession really helped me see the picture of where we can take the firm, with the changing landscape of the CPA profession that revolved around service lines, industry, technology, innovation, people, and can we get ahead of it? Can we get in front of it? That was my presentation, was essentially to say, "Look, we can do this. We can grow not for growth's sake, but because it provides more opportunities for people and because if we expand our services, it provides more solutions for our clients." But also being very clear about what I believe we needed to do to get there, because it's one thing to say ...

Sheila:

I remember my presentation was, I wanted it to be ... I believe we could be a $100 million from $30 million in 10 years. I believed it because we've done it. We've grown threefold over eight years and when it comes to change, we've proven that we can change with the times. We've gone from paper to paperless, we've expanded into other niche areas at this point. So, I really believe that we can do it. So just being able to memorialize that and articulate it and get people to imagine it with me, was how I approached it.

David:

That's awesome.

Sheila:

That was an amazing experience to begin with. Yeah and for me, it was a great experience with Stan and kind of the partner group and show them my vision, that I believe what we can do. Then I presented this video. I don't know if you've seen it, it's called Change Squared. It talks about just how fast change is happening. This was in 2017, David, August of 2017. Of course, the pandemic-

David:

Little did you know, little did you know the change that was coming.

Sheila:

I mean, just even more than what we have experienced. So, I think it's in that presentation when I then received feedback from the partners saying, "That's a really great way of presenting it and where we could take it." Now of course, I can't blame some people that might look at that and say, "Well, that's too aggressive." I called it my BHAG, big, hairy, audacious goal. I don't know if you've read Good To Great, but you know, it's-

David:

Yes, I have.

Sheila:

Yes, it's one of those things where I was like, "Let's put it out there." And again, not growth for growth's sake, but growth because it's what would allow us to continue to provide those opportunities for those that are coming after me, for instance.

Sheila:

Then also, that idea being truly a Texas firm, that we'll be in different offices. So that really was where I started to see, okay, with this strategy, which by the way, was adopted by the partners the year I was elected, which was great because-

David:

That is great.

Sheila:

That is now our five-year strategic plan as we speak and we're two years into it and we're actually ahead of the curve, with what we've put in place.

David:

That is awesome.

Sheila:

Yeah.

David:

I'm sorry, I just wanted to interject and tell you something that ... So, I don't think you know this, but I knew you were going to be managing partner back in about 2012 or 2013. The reason I knew that was because of all the jobs I've had before I started my own company, my memories of Briggs & Veselka are the fondest of any of them in the firm that I keep in the most contact with. Pre-pandemic, your firm had an annual open house in January of every year.

Sheila:

Yes, we did.

David:

That was always the highlight of my January because I was able to reconnect with so many people I worked with and shared clients with. At one of those open houses, I think it was like 2013, 2014, I was talking to John in the big room where they slice the beef in the old building. We were just talking and something about, what was John ... how much longer was he going to serve and who might be his successor? He said, "Oh, I already know who the successor is going to be." And I'm like, "Really who?" He goes, you have to promise me, you won't tell anybody until it's announced." I'm like, "Okay, fair enough." He said, "Sheila will be the managing partner to replace me." I'm like, "Wow. I can see that she's got everything it takes." He goes, "Yeah." He goes, "Keep it to yourself but that's who the managing partner's going to be." So, how about that, isn't that something? He knew back then.

Sheila:

Yeah, I'm glad he didn't tell me because he would've spooked me to no end.

David:

I bet it would have. That's why, I think when he brought the subject up to you, it seemed so well thought out because he had already come to that conclusion years earlier. So, he was just prepared for how best to sell it.

Sheila:

That's amazing. Thank you for sharing that because I do remember asking him, "Why me?" Because I started as a manager at the firm in 2007, and I came from a much smaller firm in Rhode Island. This is why I'm so grateful to the firm, and talk about opportunities. Really, my passion for different shows when I talked to our recruits, because I just ... I'm living proof of someone that in the right place can fly and be myself, not be somebody else, right?

David:

Right.

Sheila:

And pursue my passions, and flourish, and succeed, and be recognized.

David:

That's great.

Sheila:

But John has that uncanny talent of being able to identify, because he does this all the time, he still does it to this day, of a young talent and saying, "This person has got what it takes."

Sheila:

But the one thing that I also admire with him, about John, is the fact that he can see through people's weaknesses and flaws because isn't that always the case? It's like, we always see their weaknesses, but he always sees the strength. I just love that about him because yeah, I mean, I think I got most of my confidence really from the fact that he believed me because he loves this farm so much. I remember thinking at one point, as I was thinking about this role, that John is not going to pick someone that will put this firm at risk because he loves it so much. Johnny ended up endorsing me as well. So, that was huge. Between the two of them, I felt like, "Okay, this is their baby." Now, of course at that point…

David:

Yeah. So if they didn't think you could do it, they wouldn't have endorsed you. So thus, if they had the confidence in you and they had both done the job already and knew what it took, then it sounds like that gave you the confidence to accept the opportunity.

Sheila:

Correct. Exactly, exactly. So, I think in a lot of ways, having John there throughout that whole process is also huge for me because he could guide me through the transition, you know?

David:

Yeah.

Sheila:

And it gave me that that ability to just believe in what we were building, continuing to build and then bring in the people.

David:

That is awesome.

Sheila:

Yeah, yeah. It's really exciting.

David:

Speaking of building, I seem to have read recently that you all received some recognition for diversity at the firm.

Sheila:

Yes, yes.

David:

Talk to me about the diversity of the firm.

Sheila:

Oh, that is really one award. So, as you know, we always get the Houston Business Journal's Best Place to Work, which is something that I'm so proud about because it's really our people that built for that. So consistently, we get it year after year. We got it again this year, but then we also received the Diversity in Business Award not too long ago. I think it's only about a month ago. That really is something that I feel so proud about because when I think about diversity, we're very, very lucky first of all, to be in Houston. This is why I love this city so much.

Sheila:

Houston is known for its diversity. I believe it actually ended up getting that honor again this year, being the most diverse city in the United States. I think because of that, I think we have been the beneficiary of a very diverse pool of candidates. So, we received that award in many ways because of our inclusive culture. I totally believe this, that it's only been in the last couple of years that we have been formalizing our diversity equity and inclusion initiative. In fact, we did a training last fall. We started with the partners on unconscious bias and continuing to build programs in order to foster diversity. But my belief personally, is that diversity without inclusion creates conflict.

David:

Wow.

Sheila:

Yeah, it's something that I learned from Dr. Robbins. His name is Dr. ... I forget his first name, but I heard him speak at a major firm event, AIC major firm meeting that has all of the top 85 firms in the nation, meeting the CEOs and COOs and he was our speaker. I think his name's Steven Robbins, if you all can look it up, I highly encourage you. But his whole thing is you start with inclusion and it really hit home with me because I mean, I'm again, a great example of how inclusive the firm is.

Sheila:

I started as a manager in audit and was encouraged to participate in not just the jobs that I worked on, but also in making the firm better, making our department better, with Meresa and John. When I started, John was the audit chair and then Meresa took over from John. But the empowerment that I received in being at the table and creating solutions, mentoring, training, being able to get involved in the administrative facets of the firm that make a difference, that's inclusion, right?

David:

Sure.

Sheila:

Because it's a recognition of my passion, my scale. And it just giving me that platform to thrive and I'm just one of hundreds in the firm that has been a beneficiary of that. So, I truly believe that our inclusive culture has created a very diverse workforce as a result. So, this is changing every day, but the last statistic that I saw were 40% diverse, 40% nonwhite. That's a big number if you compare it to CPA firms. CPA firms across the nation, but the profession in general has trouble building diversity, for one reason or another. I think that's because of where we bring our pipeline of students. Part of it is the image of accountants. We're not really the first choice for high school students, you know?

David:

Right.

Sheila:

But I also think that we need to do a better job of going to schools that are historically diverse, you know?

And telling them about the exciting things that are happening in the profession and why they should consider being a CPA, but in the firm, really 40%, non-diverse, 57% women.

David:

That one doesn't surprise me. Let me just stop you there. Even when I was in school 30 years ago, it seemed like all the best accounting students and the most serious accounting students were the women, it seemed like the guys just were still just immature and really hadn't gotten their act together. I think that lead that the women had in the classroom was insurmountable. I think it's a lost cause now, I think the women are going to be running this profession for a long time.

Sheila:

Well, here's the thing though. I still think that there's so much work to be done. We're not stopping because we accomplished where we are really because we are that inclusive culture, but now we're formalizing those programs because we're 350 people. When we were 75, it's easier because then you can have more of those personal touches. So, what we're trying to do is really create more of the intentionality in the program in terms of developing ... and when I say, actually, it's not just diversity either, it's equity and inclusion, because I can tell you right now that we were 57% women, but we're continuing to work on making sure we're retaining them, right?

Because there's a challenge around women and when we have families. I have two young kids, 18 and 11. The one thing I so, so appreciate about the firms is I never had to miss any important events in my kids' lives because they have always given me the flexibility and I will talk about that all day long, because not all firms can deliver on that. So, I think that's how we build the diversity. It's not just about race or gender, it's about culture. We have 21 dialects that we speak in the firm. It's incredible because we're an international city.

David:

Isn't that something?

Sheila:

Yeah. We're an international city, as you can imagine with the port and we have a Chinese practice where we have over 20 Mandarin speaking professionals. Of course, even our Spanish speaking, it's just really amazing how we're able to build this space. But then also there's the generational aspect of it.

Sheila:

There's five generations in the workforce with Gen Zs coming into our profession now. So diversity, equity and inclusion to me are the key things for us because we're in the people business. The biggest challenge of every CPA firm is people, retaining, developing, recruiting. That is always the crux of the issue for us. So I think our diversity, I'm so proud of it, but I will be the first to tell you that it's still a work in progress and I'm very, very committed, along with our leadership, to continuing that hard work. It's not just because it's good for business, it's the right thing to do.

David:

Yeah, I agree.

Sheila:

I think you see that in what's happening around us and it can get very political, but you don't have to look at it from that landscape, from that lens. For us, it's continuing that work and making sure that that inclusion is being ... that we're adding to that with intentionality, with the programs that we're putting in place, because we've gotten to that size.

David:

That is great and congratulations again, on that recognition. Can you believe how fast the time has gone?

Sheila:

Yeah.

David:

The remaining few minutes, I want to talk a bit about the new podcast. So this is the first episode of the Briggs & Veselka podcast. I was honored to be asked to be a guest host on this because I had the opportunity to interview you last year for one of my podcasts, The IC-DISC Show. I guess from that, I guess I did a decent enough job, that the powers that be thought it'd be a great way to have me kick it off.

David:

So I'd like to just talk to you about why the firm wanted to start a podcast and what the firm might try to accomplish. So what are some of your thoughts there?

Sheila:

Yeah. I'm really excited that we're starting this. I feel like it's also one of those initiatives that will continue to evolve, but for me, I feel like it's a great way to communicate to our constituents. That would be our people, those that are maybe future members of our team, our clients, and the community, because ultimately, those are really the people that we serve. I think this podcast is going to be a wonderful platform. Also, I'd love to really use it as an avenue for us to tell the Briggs & Veselka story, because with the time that we had today, there's just so much more to flesh out. I feel like I'm not doing it justice, just in terms of just the beautiful history of Briggs & Veselka.

Sheila:

I'd love to interview Johnny and interview John and interview Meresa, first female partner and being able to really showcase the story and memorialize it because I'd love to look back years later and say, "Yes, these are all the people that help build Briggs & Veselka." Then even highlight some of our clients, you know?

David:

Right.

Sheila:

That are doing amazing things within our community and highlight our associates that also are really finding their passion within the firm. I'm a firm believer, and so many people have heard me say this, and I'm going to sound like a broken record, but one thing that I really appreciate about the firm is that it encourages each of us to find our passion and what we're good at and marrying it to the needs of the firm.

Sheila:

I am such a perfect example of that with the litigation support, when I got my law degree and got my law license, I didn't have to look anywhere else. It was like, I went to the EC and I said, "I think I've got an idea of building out a true forensic litigation valuation group, and here's my vision of it." They were like, "Go for it." I mean, Meresa did that with the EBP, David Phelps with the banking, Kerry Kilgore with the transaction advisory services. These are names of people that are just but a few of those that were able to build a practice within a practice.

David:

Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, and I think you'll discover ... As we just wrap up these last couple minutes, so I've had a podcast for a couple of years and I just launched the second one. I've got to tell you the favorite part of my whole week is when I see a podcast interview coming up. I think you are going to discover that a podcast interview is magic because you have the chance to really spotlight somebody in a very giving fashion and you get to tell their story and just something, I don't know if you know, but I had John Flatowicz on my podcast early on. He was like my third or fourth guest. I received the nicest note from Johnny Veselka that Johnny listened to the podcast. He said, "Dave, you said you have created the best oral history of Briggs & Veselka."

Sheila:

That's awesome, awesome.

David:

What an honor that was, because I'm such a big fan of the firm, that I could play a role in creating that. So, I think you'll find that same experience. I think you'll also get the same energy and satisfaction from being able to tell some of those stories and before it's too late to tell those stories, because none of us live forever.

Sheila:

That's right, that's right. Yeah. Oh, I love it. I'm so excited. I really appreciate your insights. I know that you had encouraged us to look at this and I'm glad that we're doing it. No better time than the present to get something started. So, really looking forward to what we can make of it.

David:

Well, that is great. Well, with that, why don't we wrap up? Was there anything that I didn't cover that you wish we had?

Sheila:

Maybe just the last point about the firm, I'm really excited about where we're headed. I didn't get a chance to share with you that a couple of years ago, we finally made it to the top 100 firm in the nation. We debuted at 91, actually 98 and then 91. Then at last survey this year, we're at 86. So, I'm really excited.

David:

That's awesome.

Sheila:

Yes and it has provided such a tremendous opportunity for me to get more insight about what's happening in the profession, being part of now the major firm group of the AICPA. So, it's really benefit us tremendously and given us tremendous visibility, even at a national level. So, a lot of exciting things happening and I owe it all to, really our team that has worked so hard. I know we didn't even cover the pandemic and how that became a growth opportunity for us and taught us or showed us just how resilient we are. But again, just really excited about the firm's prospects going forward. Thank you for your time.

David:

Well, that is awesome, I did not realize ... Oh, you're welcome. I did not realize the latest ranking at 86, so that is awesome. So, if people want to learn more about you and the firm, I assume just going to the website bvccpa.com would be a good start? Because there they can read the bio and-

Sheila:

Yes, that's correct. It's actually been revamped. Yes, yeah, I was just about to say-

David:

That's what I hear.

Sheila:

Yeah, we're excited to ... We unveiled it not not even a month ago. So we're excited and hopefully people can find it to be more interactive and also just, it has all of our service offerings and all of our people.

David:

That is awesome. I'll be sure to take a look at that. Well, Sheila, thank you again for the privilege of letting me be a guest host on this brand new podcast. It's been a treat and anytime I can sit down with you or talk to you for a while, I always treasure it, so thank you.

Sheila:

Thank you, David. I really appreciate it. Have a great day.

David:

All right, you have a great day. You too.

Sheila:

Thank you.

David:

Bye.

Sheila:

Bye-bye.

Ryan Gore:

Thank you for listening to the Briggs & Veselka podcast. That's it for this episode, if you'd like to listen to past and future upcoming episodes, go to our website at bvccpa.com. Thank you.

Today on the Briggs and Veselka podcast, we're joined by Sheila Enriquez and David Spray.

Many of you will know Sheila, the CEO and Managing Partner of Briggs & Veselka. Sheila has received countless awards and accolades, including 2020 Most Admired CEO by the Houston Business Journal. David is a former CPA and the founder and president of Export Advisors Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the IC-DISC tax savings program. Before founding Export Advisors, he served as the CFO for a privately held company in Houston and later served as the director of business development for a Houston-based CPA firm.

In this episode, they discuss growth within Briggs & Veselka, as well as the challenges Sheila was presented with as she took over as CEO and managing partner within the firm.

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