Insight by ASMC

Financial consultant to the government by day, diversity champion all the time

“Only 3% of all CPAs are in the socioeconomic classification of Black. When you’re looking at the space, there’s an opportunity,” points out Salome Tink...

Salome Tinker spent 20 years as an enlisted Army nurse. But she’d always loved numbers.

“So I went to school at night while I was working at Walter Reed here in D.C. in the daytime and was fortunate to get to intern with Deloitte and then that started my CPA career,” Tinker said. That internship was in the mid-90s.

Today, after working for Deloitte, the Federal Reserve Board, Fannie Mae and more, Tinker is a partner with her husband in TSC Enterprise, a financial consultancy in Suitland, Maryland. For the past seven years, she has built and grown an arm of TSC that serves government organizations.

She sees a distinct crossover between the two career paths she’s taken.

“The medical field and consulting are very similar,” Tinker said during the American Society of Military Comptrollers’ The Business of Defense podcast on Federal News Network. “Someone comes into the hospital. You don’t know what’s wrong with them. You have to do diagnostics or triage to figure out what the problem is. I’ve taken those tools and leveraged them in the business sector to do diagnostics, figure out what the problem is, so that we can offer the best solution.”

And Tinker enjoys figuring out problems and devising solutions that can help agencies meet their mission, a passion that she attributes to all those years in military service.

Now, she’s on a mission to both further grow TSC’s federal business by partnering with large firms — to date, most of TSC’s federal and state and local work has come from winning prime contracts — but also to encourage young people, and especially young Black people, to become interested in accounting.

Encourage a new generation of Black CPAs

“We have to put the excitement back into it,” Tinker said. “The first person who reaches the child gets the child, if you will. And so to the extent we can — even going back as far as middle school — [we should] teach them about budget and finance, just get them excited about all the aspects of it.”

There’s a misperception about what accountants do and about helping the government too, she said, adding that it’s reflected in a general overall decline in people entering the accounting field.

Tinker views technology as an important potential draw to a new generation of would-be accountants. It’s important to make sure young students know that accounting takes advantage of artificial intelligence right now, that they can design and code programs to help with risk management, they can use bots and robotics process automation in this work to help solve important problems, she said.

ASMC CEO Richard Brady agreed: “People think it’s just tax and audit: You go onsite, you pull samples for a couple of weeks, and you go back and revise a report. And then you go back out, you pull samples again. It is much more dynamic than that these days, and it’s much more tech-related. I’m not sure that the profession has done a good job explaining that to the early careerists, or the men and women who are in college, so they understand all the possibilities.”

Seize opportunity to expand diversity in accounting profession

While she fully endorses introducing financial programs to children at an early age, Tinker also partners with other firms to do outreach programs to high school and college students too.

She noted that within the National Association of Black Accountants, there’s a subgroup of diverse organizational firms that take part in programs in high schools in underserved communities and at historically Black colleges and universities.

“Only 3% of all CPAs are minority, in the socioeconomic classification of Black,” she said, adding that there are no statistics currently that identify how many firms are owned by Blacks. “When you’re looking at the space, there’s an opportunity.”

At TSC, diversity and inclusion efforts emphasize getting each employee to the next step, Tinker said and harkened back to her early internship at Deloitte and the step up it provided her in learning the craft. “I’m trying to help incoming students so as to also help minority firms grow.”

Although that 3% seems low when considering Black people make up 12% of the U.S. population, Tinker offered that “we’re kind of the first or second generation who even made it to sort of a substantial partner level and to then go out and do our own thing. It’s a matter of catching up.”

To listen to the full discussion between Salome Tinker, partner at Tinker Enterprise, and Rich Brady, CEO of ASMC, click the podcast play button below:

Discover other The Business of Defense podcasts here.

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