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Alyssa G. Martin of Weaver: “Why I’d like to inspire a movement to increase the diversity among those serving on public company boards of directors”

I would like to inspire a movement to increase the diversity among those serving on public company boards of directors. Diversity can take many forms. It’s not just race, gender or creed. Our public companies need more representation by people from different economic backgrounds, educational levels and professional backgrounds. Our economic success and our future […]

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I would like to inspire a movement to increase the diversity among those serving on public company boards of directors. Diversity can take many forms. It’s not just race, gender or creed. Our public companies need more representation by people from different economic backgrounds, educational levels and professional backgrounds. Our economic success and our future depend on tapping into the rich diversity that America offers.


Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa G Martin, National Strategy Leader, Large Markets & Public Entities Partner, Weaver.

Alyssa Martin, CPA, leads strategic, multi-disciplinary solutions for Weaver’s public company and large clients nationwide. Previously the partner-in-charge of risk advisory services for the firm, Alyssa now leverages her rich experience to assist public and large private companies in managing risk, establishing governance and strategy, preventing fraud, ensuring compliance and improving operations. With more than 25 years of experience, she is widely recognized for her work collaborating with management teams on growth strategies and board of directors’ matters, working with audit committees to improve governance, and assisting private equity firms in strengthening management activities. Alyssa has focused throughout her career on enterprise risk management, internal audit, fraud prevention, IT audit, operational analysis, business management consulting, strategic planning and technology consulting for private and publicly held companies and government entities.

Alyssa is a frequent speaker at national and regional events focused on organizational growth and risk management. She is highly active in the industry, including numerous leadership positions, such as being an AICPA Council Member, a member of the IIA Global Academic Committee, and serving on the editorial boards for Ia Magazine and Today’s CPA. She is also a member of the IIA, the AICPA, the TXCPA and the National Association of Corporate Directors. Alyssa earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Thank you so much for joining us Alyssa. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From performing arts to accounting — who would have guessed? When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to compete in figure skating. I was passionate about my dream and worked hard to achieve it. This led to the study of ballet and modern dance and the progression to attend the Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, which instilled discipline and perseverance. Performing gave me confidence. The rhythm, flow and personal expression of performing arts are still part of me.

When I went to college, my father, a successful accountant, insisted that I pursue a professional career in accounting. I paid my way through college working at his firm, where I also launched my accounting career after college.

For the advisory work I do today at Weaver, grounding in the arts combined with the discipline of accounting has been a good combination. I am able to be creative and use my performance and presentation skills. The logical relationships and balance of accounting came naturally. I can visualize patterns and desired outcomes, which allows me to see solutions clearly.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company/division/team?

After the events of WorldCom and Enron and the collapse of Arthur Andersen in 2002, as a young partner, I recognized that Weaver needed to create a risk advisory services function to respond to the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. I could clearly see the need for a strong internal control evaluation process, and I had experience from Andersen with controls based audits, developing process maps for system implementations and internal auditing.

At that time, it was uncommon for a fairly new partner to transition virtually all of the clients they had historically served to venture out in a completely new direction. Fortunately, many leaders agreed with me that this was a great opportunity for the firm to meet a need for our existing and prospective clients. So, the head of our Assurance practice took a risk on me. He moved me under him and mentored me as we built a new risk advisory services practice, which has grown into one of the firm’s most profitable service areas.

We made quite a team with divergent backgrounds and experience. We raced around Dallas and worked hard to sell this new service to companies. At this partner’s recent retirement party, he joked that following me in his car from appointment to appointment in Dallas traffic nearly finished him!

The lesson I learned from building this successful practice area from scratch over the years is to trust my instincts and follow through if a project seems worth pursuing. As my mother used to say, “you can’t be told no if you don’t ask the question.”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early in my career, I was offered a position as chief accountant in another organization. I was ready to accept it, and when I told my boss I was leaving the firm, he told me I could not leave. He elaborated that the plan was to support me in becoming a partner in the firm. No one had told me that, but I had not asked either. He was adamant that I was going to be a partner if I stayed.

The lesson I learned is that if you show up and produce at your highest level, people will recognize your value. However, you also have to ask for what you want. As a leader, I try to remember that people may not know how valuable they are to the team, the organization or their clients because people do not tell them. People must know how they fit into the organization and where their value lies. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that leaders should take time to recognize people, support them in work and in life, and let them know they are a valuable part of the team.

What do you think makes your organization stand out? Can you share a story?

Weaver’s values and culture have kept me here for 25 years. As a top-35 national CPA and advisory firm, Weaver encourages and supports innovation and personal development. Through different roles over more than two decades, I have been trusted to build new programs, pursue innovative strategies, and respond to market changes even when a positive outcome was not always assured. This trust and support, combined with a solid set of core values that drive our culture, truly make Weaver stand out among CPA firms.

The firm has invested in my teams and me, and I always seek to pay it back. My success is their success. I try to act on one of our firm’s core values, which is “Help each other succeed in work and in life,” by encouraging and investing in team members across the firm. Recently, a younger professional expressed an interest in robotics, and I encouraged him to seek ways to implement solutions internally and externally, as a proof of concept. He is now growing the service offering for that area.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Weaver is in the third year of a contract with a large government entity for outsourced compliance. We have professionals working shifts covering 14 hours a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year. As the lead partner on the project, I take on the same responsibilities as all the other team members who work on that job. I do not ask others to do work I am not willing to do myself.

I am particularly committed to government projects because I believe in the importance of government and public service, particularly the area of education. Our clients include school districts, colleges, state agencies, local governments and more. As a national CPA and advisory firm, Weaver’s impact is typically not something that is visible to the public, but I like to think we provide a level of quality and value that makes the entity stronger and better able to achieve its mission.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team thrive?

Courage is what gets you to the next level. It is natural for men to speak first, run fast, step out and stand up. This is not necessarily as natural for women to do, but as a leader, it is expected and necessary.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

  1. My motto is: adapt and overcome. Every team will have its difficulties. If you have a large team, you can structure a project to accommodate these blips. As female leaders, we are flexible and usually comfortable operating in a more fluid environment. We need to stay plugged in to what is actually happening and help with identifying when the team is off track, and then work together to modify and adapt.
  2. Place people in positions that fit their natural strengths and work behavior. Listen to the undertone. As a leader, observing people helps you get a better understanding of their natural work behavior and then make the most of it.
  3. Delegate responsibility, empower people to make decisions and allow for failure in the journey.
  4. Allow for flexibility of role responsibilities, so that all team members can play to their natural strengths. Create a process of accountability for the team.
  5. Monitor outcomes and performance along the way through self-reporting. Allow team members the freedom to identify possible failure points and adapt, so that overall team performance and success is maintained.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mother was my first supporter and the person who has had the greatest influence on my life and success. As a single mother for most of my childhood, she held a professional job but also struggled and took work on the side to provide for her children. She made choices and commitments to set her kids up to succeed, even though her own life was difficult.

When I decided I wanted to be a competitive ice skater, my mother believed in me and made it happen. She made a barter arrangement to exchange lessons and ice time for administrative work with a Dallas ice skating rink. Three times a week, I would go to bed in my ice skating clothes so I could be ready to leave the house at 3:30 am in time for my 4:00 am lessons. Mother would drive me to the lessons, go home to get ready for work, pick me up to take me to school, and then go to work.

She taught me the value of hard work and never looked at disadvantages as a barrier to getting what you want. As a mother, I know how difficult the job can be in the best of times. I will always be grateful to her for the values she instilled in me.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am personally invested in bringing education and exposure to lower-income urban communities.

This is important to me personally because I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life. I grew up modestly, living in government-subsidized apartments until my mother bought our first house when I was 15 years old. I volunteer where I can encourage and influence students to get the best education they can so they will have career choices.

I am able to have the greatest impact by serving on the boards of organizations that work to fulfill this mission. As an accounting professional, I usually serve on the board’s audit committee, but I also help with other initiatives I am passionate about, including scholarship programs. These directly impact the communities we serve. For example, as a board member of the State Fair of Texas, I serve on the investment and audit committee. Many of the proceeds of the State Fair go back to the community in South Dallas, supporting minority businesses and providing scholarships to urban youth.

Board service is important and meaningful, but my greatest pleasure comes from the relationships I have made through Big Brothers Big Sisters, where I have been Big for 10 years. I am currently in the 6th year of a match with a 15-year-old girl. I get so much more than I give, but I hope I’ve been able to be one of the adults that makes a positive impact on her life and helps pave the way to a successful future.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be gracious. Everyone you work with has something to contribute.
  2. Observe and learn from what others do well. Try it yourself. You can always learn something from everyone — what to do and what not to do.
  3. Be reflective and honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Be genuine and self-aware.
  4. Trust in yourself and others will to
  5. You are the only person responsible for your happiness (or success) — make intentional choices.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to inspire a movement to increase the diversity among those serving on public company boards of directors. Diversity can take many forms. It’s not just race, gender or creed. Our public companies need more representation by people from different economic backgrounds, educational levels and professional backgrounds. Our economic success and our future depend on tapping into the rich diversity that America offers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

WORK FOR A CAUSE, NOT FOR APPLAUSE

LIVE LIFE TO EXPRESS, NOT TO IMPRESS

DON’T STRIVE TO MAKE YOUR PRESENCE NOTICED,

JUST MAKE YOUR ABSENCE FELT

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In my own life, this quote guides me to put my best effort into everything I do, work on projects that align with what I believe in, and know that my actions and outcomes say everything.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them!

As a business executive, I’m fascinated with Jeff Bezos and would love to meet him. He is known for putting his ideas into action and taking a risk, betting on talent and carrying through with innovative ideas. But more importantly, he developed the largest enterprise of related entities and has been able to control the entire transaction flow. His success has been monumental, and I would love to know what he is most proud of, what he most regrets, and how he has developed the team that has enabled Amazon to become so successful.

The other person that comes to mind is Beyoncé. Her rise to becoming one of the biggest stars in entertainment from her roots growing up in the Fifth Ward of Houston is such an inspiring story. With immense talent, drive and character, she is successful in many ways. She seems to be a person of genuine character who has not forgotten her roots. I am a big fan, and as someone who pursued performance as a child, I would love to meet someone who succeeded in this realm at the highest level.

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