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Nicole Teska, 38 Audit partner Bowers & Co. CPAs
Nominator’s quote: “As an audit partner at Bowers & Co., Nicole handles many of our short-line railroad clients. She has attended Railroad Day on the Hill on multiple occasions to participate in face-to-face lobbying meetings with Congress members. According to Jim Bowers, partner-in-charge of our firm’s Railroad and Transportation Industry Group and past chairman of the ASLRRA Finance and Administration Committee: ‘Nicole has been an instrumental part in the growth of our short-line railroad group.’” — Erin Wisneski, Bowers & Co.
What is your educational background? Bachelor of Science degree in business from SUNY Cortland.
NYS-certified public accountant.
Describe your current job and responsibilities. I am audit partner and quality control director at Bowers & Co. CPAs. I’m involved in the firm’s short-line railroad niche and ensuring the firm is in compliance with proper accounting rules and regulations.
Describe your career path. I started with Bowers & Co. right out of college and have been there for over 15 years. I made partner in 2016 and I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the short-line railroad industry and be involved in the next generation leadership of Bowers & Co. CPAs.
How did you get into the railroad industry? Bowers & Co. has been involved in the railroad industry since before I started my career with them. Therefore, I’ve been exposed to the railroad industry my whole professional career.
What is the best career advice you’ve received? Just because you are at the management level, don’t ever think that you are above anyone. I learned this at my first job when I was learning how to be a supervisor and my manager told me, “The best way to earn the employee’s respect was to show them that I was willing to do the same tasks they were and that I’m not above them.” I have always remembered this advice and have done my best to carry it with me.
What advice would you give to a new railroader? The industry has changed so much in the last few years. It’s not what it was 20 years ago. I see the industry continuing to evolve and grow, and it will need younger people with fresh and new ideas to continue to help it grow and thrive. It’s a great industry to be in, because for the most part, the short lines aren’t competing against each other, therefore they can learn from each other and each become successful without stepping on other toes to get there.
What was your very first job? My very first job at the age of 16 was working for Burger King. I made it to the supervisor role before I graduated high school. The lessons you learn from the service industry are invaluable. It taught me a lot about customer service and about management.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. I always knew I wanted to be an accountant, but my father thought he knew best and suggested I become an engineer instead. I got my first ever “C” in physics and decided that path wasn’t for me. I went to business and accounting classes and got my job as a public accountant and have never looked back. Always trust your gut!
Do you have any hobbies? My husband and I enjoy being active and taking road trips. Our most favorite thing to do is hop in the car and flip a quarter to determine which direction we will start driving. We start heading in that direction and stop when we want and have no planned itinerary. They have been our best adventures.
What is the biggest challenge the rail industry now faces or will face? The answer to this question is certainly different than it was pre-COVID-19, that is for sure. Trying to stabilize the economy, both internally, from COVID and abroad, from trade tariffs and oil production, are definitely going to be the big challenges for 2020 and into 2021.