Balancing the Numbers

The fall months bring colorful leaves, crisp weather, and – for tax professionals – gearing up for filing season. At Drake Software, this time of year is filled with frenetic energy: finalizing software builds, prepping for support calls, and rolling out new materials for trade shows. As everyone counts down to January, we wanted to share a little bit about some of the people who help bring you our award-winning tax preparation software.

Dills_1Today, Jennifer Dills is the Vice President of Finance at Drake Enterprises, but when she applied for a position right out of college she had no idea that it would lead to a 13 year career.

Jennifer grew up in the sleepy mountains of Cullowhee, North Carolina with her mother, father, and older sister. While it’s also the home to Western Carolina University, Cullowhee quietly maintains the idyllic charm that so many associate with the region: “We lived in a small house on a dirt road where my parents still live to this day.”

Following the example set by her parents – their honesty, diligence, and faith – she developed an appreciation for family and hard work at an early age. “Mom stayed home with my sister and me, while Dad worked two jobs to make ends meet. Even when things were tight, my parents encouraged us to stay active – both physically and mentally.” She listened, and always found ways to keep herself busy: “I ran track, played basketball, and attended numerous academic and leadership summer camps. My parents always told me that I could do anything, and I believed them.” That drive paid off: she earned a full tuition basketball scholarship and was admitted to the Honors College – graduating with honors after only two and a half years.

After completing college, Jennifer began working in public accounting – mostly audits and tax returns. “I did that for four years before I was hired at Drake. I started out as a Quality Assurance Technician testing forms in the software and answering support calls.” She was quickly promoted to Tax Analyst after her first year with the company. After spending a year supervising a group of programmers responsible for federal and state forms and packages, Jennifer transferred to the Accounting Department as Chief Accountant under the CFO; four years later, she would occupy her current position.

Since being at Drake, Jennifer has earned a Master’s degree, passed the CPA exam, received her CPA license, been married, and had two children. “I quickly learned that I needed to strike a work-life balance,” she says. “That was probably the biggest challenge to overcome, balancing my career goals with my family goals. I had to learn three important rules:

  1. God comes first in my life and I let Him be in control of the path I walk.
  2. I can’t do everything myself: my family and accounting staff are vital parts of my life.
  3. Spending quality time with my family every single day – whether having a meal, playing a game, or just spending time around each other – is essential.”

“Honestly, I’m lucky that I work for a company that truly believes in putting family before career.”

Jennifer is also active in her local community: “I sit on the Board of Directors for Macon County Care Network, a local food pantry where I occasionally volunteer, and on the Accounting Advisory Board for Western Carolina University.” She remains an active member of her church and – alongside her husband – enjoys working with the United Way and YMCA.Dills_2

While her work and extracurricular activities keep her busy, Jennifer finds time to destress. “These days I like to play golf when I can get out to one of the courses here in town,” she says. “Otherwise, I really love watching movies and hanging out with my friends and family.”

“To this day I’m still surprised by all of it,” she says, musing on the past thirteen years. “I thought my first job at Drake Software was going to be a temporary solution while I was in school and
working on earning a CPA license. Truth be told, this is where I need to be: I have a six year old daughter and 10 month old son and I work with great people in a job that I really enjoy.”