CFMA member and the Director of Accounting and Finance at C. Abbonizio Contractors Inc. in Sewell, NJ, Kimberly Hullfish, CCIFP, took time out of her day to answer ten questions so we could get to know her better. Check them out:
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was at Lawrenceville Fuel, my father's and grandfather's fuel oil company (originally Lawrenceville Coal and Ice). There was a time when companies would send calendars to all their customers each year and my brothers and sister and I were paid to stuff and address thousands of envelopes. We had little tally sheets that we would mark off and we were paid ten cents per envelope. We used this money to go Christmas shopping at the local Woolworth's. I started when I was in kindergarten.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I watch it every year at Christmastime and it just never gets old. “The Sound of Music'' ranks right up there as well – the Captain is just intriguing to me. I also love movies from the 80’s, such as “St Elmo’s Fire,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Cocktail.” Then there is “Up Close and Personal” with Robert Redford – my (former) fiancé and I loved that movie and used to quote it to each other in emails. Of course, any Robert Redford movie is worth watching multiple times!
Q: What is your favorite thing in your office?
A: I would have to say my favorite thing in my office is the small watercolor of the ocean as the beach is my happy place! A close second would be my CFMA and CCIFP awards with photos of the South Jersey Board from when I was president and the photo of the Mid-Atlantic Conference in Gettysburg taken atop Little Round Top.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I just recently discovered a book called “Close to Shore” about the great shark scare at the Jersey Shore in 1916. My grandparents and my mother grew up in Spring Lake, and I had heard stories of this shark that killed many people along the Jersey Shore, including a valet from the Essex and Sussex Hotel. The descriptions in this book are amazing – what Atlantic City looked like back then, a doctor from Philadelphia who lived in a great Victorian mansion who summered on Long Beach Island, the great Essex and Sussex hotel and the presidents who spoke there – and when you read about the bathing suits required of women, and how some were carried into the water on a wagon because the suits were too heavy when wet – it gives you so much history of the Jersey Shore! I should also note that the summer of 1916 was the premise for the book “Jaws” by Peter Benchley, which of course became the movie of the same name in the late 70’s.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: My favorite part of my job is that the day is never the same twice, always something different and new to deal with. I like creating new reports that give the owners better viewpoints of the numbers. I enjoy being part of long-term planning and succession planning as well as implementing decisions such as an 931b insurance company. Once a company I worked for was buying a recycling yard from a bankruptcy court, and we were the “stalking horse” – I just find those kinds of things challenging and fun!
Q: What is the least favorite part of your job?
A: My least favorite part of my job is that I do not want to manage HR, but like many of you, it is part of my job. I never relish being the “bad guy” on enforcing rules, though I do like the benefits side of HR.
Q: What have you learned about being a leader?
A: What I have learned about being a leader is to slow down and listen more to what people have to say. I have learned patience as my mind races 100 miles ahead of what a person is saying, at the end point before they even have their thought out. Do not think ahead but give them the attention they deserve. Encourage people to speak up – especially women who often apologize for having a different opinion. Stop apologizing for how and what you think! Be real. Be who you are.
Q: How did you get into accounting?
A: I got into accounting at Rider College because my professors always tried to get me to major in accounting. I was good at it, it came so easily, but I was bored with it. I did not want to sit behind a computer all day with debits and credits. So I majored in finance and economics and was going to pursue a PhD in economics at UGA. Halfway though I decided the direction I was going in was wrong, and I left to get married, moving to Ashland, KY where I worked in industrial economics. After the sudden death of my fiancé – it’s OK, it was a long time ago but it is part of who I am and it is hard to tell stories without mentioning him – so after his death, my parents moved me back home to NJ where I had to find a job. But how do you tell people in an interview you came home because your fiancé died? “I’m not hiring someone with that baggage!” So my dad was working part time post-retirement for a demolition company, and he took my resume to the CFO who already knew what I was going through. My dad thought he could send my resume to some banks, but the CFO said no, bring her in here, I want to interview her myself. My mom was livid – girls don’t work in demolition even if it is the office! But I went. I was hired dirt cheap. The CFO thought I’d make it six months, but at least he would have me that long. 23+ years later, Joe Artale and I still work together, but for a heavy highway company now. He taught me so much about the industry and job costing and WIP. We make a great team.
Q: What is one thing you have to have with you in meetings?
A: One thing I have to have with me in meetings is my pink pen! Always pink!
Q: What do you do to unwind from work?
A: To unwind from work I play with my beautiful but terrorizing puppy Anastacyia Noel, the cutest little Pomeranian who believes she is a German Shepherd. She keeps me on my toes but should have been named Taz – Anastacyia is no princess!