Women of Herbein: Spotlighting Their Remarkable Journeys

March 26, 2024

Today, women continue to break barriers, challenge norms, and pave the way for future generations. 

Yet, behind every success story lies a journey filled with highs and lows, obstacles, and triumphs. 

As we celebrate Women's History Month, Herbein is proud to spotlight the remarkable journeys of some of our women professionals. 

We invite you to explore the lives of these Herbein women as they share their authentic experiences—the moments that shaped them, the challenges they faced, and the lessons they learned along the way. 

These women are known for driving success for themselves and our firm, through innovative approaches, overcoming challenges, and making a significant impact in their respective fields. By highlighting their diverse talents and contributions, we hope to shed light on the experiences, triumphs, and struggles of women in the workplace, offering insights, inspiration, and empowerment to all. 

From accounting and tax to human resources, these Herbein women bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table, enriching our firm and our clients' experiences. 

Join us in celebrating these unique Herbein women and their inspiring journeys this Women's History Month.

Laurel Cline
Division CEO
Herbein HR Consulting (a division of Herbein + Company, Inc.)

Cline_2022 (4)I did not aspire to my current role; I’ve simply tried to be open to learning opportunities that came my way. What initially drew me to consulting was the chance to work a less than full-time, flexible schedule and still utilize my professional experience and knowledge to assist others. What has kept me in consulting for the past 26 years is the opportunity to learn about and support a wide variety of organizations, while continuously challenging myself to solve problems for the success of our clients.

What has been key to my success is living up to my commitments—personally and professionally—and genuinely caring about and facilitating the success of others.
For women seeking career growth, I would recommend being open to tasks they have not done before, or may not necessarily want to do. There's an expression: “Growth happens at the end of your comfort zone,” and it holds true. Be willing to put in more effort than what is "required," and recognize that even if you are considered an "expert," there is always more to learn!

Sometimes I’m asked what advice I would give to my younger self, and I'm not sure. In my first job out of college, I was fortunate to work for a company that believed in giving people responsibility before they “earned” it through experience. This company emphasized responsiveness, accountability for actions, had high client service standards, and expected excellent performance. I took every opportunity that came my way, and I am forever grateful for that. I admit there were times that I could have exercised more patience and been a better listener, and some may say that’s still the case!

When I think about my career, witnessing women I have "mentored" or coached become successful is the best feeling for me. A significant milestone was when I became the Director of HR for Morgan Corporation, as I had not previously held such a role. Being part of the executive team was a significant learning experience, particularly in a male-dominated industry like manufacturing. Having previously worked in financial services, transitioning to manufacturing was like learning a whole new language, and I enjoyed the challenge. I also recognized that the opportunity came to me not only because of my work but also due to relationships I had cultivated. Acknowledging this can reinforce feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome, which can be especially challenging as a woman. At times, this struggle persists, but it does not stop me.

Partner – Herbein Risk Management (a division of Herbein + Company, Inc.)

Fetter_2017 (4)My career path wasn't a straight line, but a happy accident guided by fate and a nudge towards something I could truly be passionate about: risk management in financial institutions. Accounting was my major, and tax preparation seemed like the natural career path. But during my final years, and as I interviewed with CPA firms, a feeling of unease settled in. Tax courses didn't excite me, and the firms themselves lacked personality. Being a tax preparer just didn't resonate with me.

Determined to find a solution, I looked inward. The problem-solving skills that surfaced early on, combined with my enjoyment of auditing classes and summer bank jobs, pointed me in a new direction. I started interviewing for positions at larger community banks and their internal audit / risk management departments. There, I could learn about all facets of a bank and chart my future course. The "risk management bug" bit me early. I relished the variety and challenge – analyzing how transactions of all kinds flow through a company's operations, impacting the financial statements, and identifying potential pitfalls. Risk management, I discovered, was about proactively mitigating errors and fraud. I thrived (and still do) on the challenge of "thinking like a thief" to implement effective controls.

As I craved broader challenges, I joined Herbein Risk Management (formerly Financial Outsourcing Solutions) 24 years ago. This role allowed me to leverage the skills honed at Fulton Financial Corporation, managing a diverse clientele, and tackling a wider range of challenges. No two days were alike. Ultimately, what I craved was the pace and pressure of a CPA firm combined with the opportunity to apply my expertise as a risk management professional and business process advisor. Through this journey, I discovered my passion wasn't for numbers or financial statements, but for the controls and processes that mitigate risk. Looking back, it's clear that life has a funny way of leading you to clarity, even if it takes a detour or two.

Success is a complex tapestry woven from numerous threads. Pinpointing the single key ingredient is a fool's errand. It's about constantly challenging yourself, your perspectives, and those around you to be better than yesterday. It's about refusing complacency, perpetually seeking to learn, listen, and achieve more. Every mistake or challenge becomes a valuable lesson. Different viewpoints and perspectives fuel insightful debate, fostering deeper growth and ultimately, success.

At its core, success is about people and the dynamic way we collaborate to achieve something greater than ourselves. Add a dash of humility, and you've got the recipe for a winning team. A mentor at a CPA firm once opened my eyes to the power of teamwork and collaboration. He emphasized understanding individual strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging that weaknesses won't magically become strengths. However, by strategically partnering people, we can leverage complementary skills. For example, someone with effective communication skills but a weakness for detail can be paired with someone who excels in detail-oriented tasks but struggles with communication. This fosters a well-rounded team dynamic that translates into engaged team members, happy clients, and ultimately, increased revenue. When we prioritize team engagement over immediate top-line revenue, company profits naturally follow. It's all about viewing your team as a puzzle, where every piece contributes to the complete picture. This approach minimizes frustration and paves the way for success. As the song goes, "A little help from your friends" rings true.

I follow these seven steps:

  1. Believe in yourself: Confidence is key, and trust in your abilities. 
  2. Stay true to your values: Your values define who you are. Staying true to what you believe no matter how difficult the perceived pushback.
  3. Follow your passions: Passion fuels persistence. When you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll find the energy and drive to push through obstacles.
  4. Embrace challenges: Challenges are opportunities for growth. When faced with demanding situations or people, view them as chances to strengthen your skills.
  5. Never stop learning: The pursuit of knowledge is endless. Seek out new experiences, skills, and education to stay adaptable and sharp! Complacency kills growth.
  6. Lead by example: Be the person you wish to see in others. 
  7. Have fun and pick your battles: Life is about balance, giving yourself grace to grow, and having fun with those around you! Giggles relieve stress. As a wise song lyric says, “you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run”!

Lessons learned: I would tell my younger self that perfection is overrated. Don’t be worried about making mistakes. Mistakes are the BEST learning tools imaginable. Each error, each misstep, is a lesson in disguise. They are the silent mentors that guide you without judgment, pushing you to question, to challenge, and to evolve as a person and as a professional. In the end, it all works out, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

Ultimately, some of my most rewarding moments are seeing the success of my team members, whether that’s within our own firm, or as they moved on to other opportunities in life for greater success, and followed their passions. I’m proud of the team and of the foundation we helped them build over the years. Taking a proverbial blank space in many cases, and helping them shake off the challenges; and finding their own voice and success is something that I will never tire of witnessing. I have several former Herbein Risk Management / Financial Outsourcing Solutions team members who still reach out for mentoring and advice. Being able to provide foundation and wings to succeed to someone, is more rewarding to me than accolades or credentials I have.

Amanda Jackowski, CPA
Partner – Herbein + Company, Inc. 

1120 Photoshoot_Doubletree Reading (1)I embarked on my Herbein journey as a tax intern during my senior year of college. Upon graduation, I was hired full-time and made the transition to the audit department, determined to work my way up. My strategy involved active participation in internal committees, recruitment initiatives, and volunteering for leadership roles in training sessions and scheduling tasks. However, my focus wasn't solely internal; I made it a point to forge meaningful connections with clients from day one.

Early in my career, I received invaluable advice: jot down one fun fact about each client and bring it up the next time you see them. This simple gesture has allowed me to nurture client relationships and demonstrate genuine interest year after year by fostering a personal touch that they genuinely appreciate. Additionally, I dedicated myself to community involvement, serving on the board of a prominent nonprofit. I participated in setting policies, solving personnel matters, navigating the ever-changing COVID environment, and serving as a sounding board to the CEO. This allowed me to see a different side of business.

As my career has progressed, I’ve learned that success is a multifaceted journey, evolving with each milestone and setback. Whether it's securing a hard-earned promotion, overcoming disappointments, or finding fulfillment in personal moments, success takes many forms. While there's no one-size-fits-all formula, I've found that being proactive, organized, and committed to continuous learning has been instrumental in my journey.

And thinking of what I might advise others, remaining true to oneself, advocating for personal growth, and surrounding oneself with positivity are paramount. A robust support system, coupled with a thirst for knowledge and a clear understanding of personal motivations, fuels both personal and professional development. Embracing challenges, seeking knowledge, and never hesitating to ask questions have been key tenets of my approach.

Finally, what has been perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my career has been the opportunity to positively impact others. Whether it's guiding colleagues through challenges or earning the appreciation of clients, these moments serve as reminders of the value of my work. Passing the CPA exam, earning partnership, and the continuous pursuit of growth are milestones I cherish, knowing that each achievement represents progress on my journey of success. And as I look ahead, I'm excited for the opportunities that lie ahead, confident in my ability to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of professional growth.

Melissa Rebholz
Director of Human Resources – Herbein + Company, Inc.

Rebholz_2018 (1)My journey to HR wasn’t entirely linear – my bachelor’s degree was in political science. I began my professional life in retail management, and later transitioned to a role as a utility call center representative. It was during this time that I discovered my passion for connecting people with opportunities, which led me to pursue a career in recruiting. Witnessing the transformative effect of finding the right job fit on individuals' lives was incredibly fulfilling.

As I embarked on my HR generalist career, I found myself drawn to the intersection of business and people management. Human Resources provided the perfect platform to contribute to the success of the business, while fostering a positive work environment for people. Throughout my career, I've embraced opportunities for growth, progressively taking on additional responsibilities with a focus on strategic impact.

Reflecting on what has been key to my success, mentorship stands out as paramount. Over my 27 years in HR, I've been fortunate to receive guidance from numerous exceptional individuals. One HR director played a pivotal role in shaping my career, offering unwavering support during times of adversity, and advocating for recognition of my contributions. His mentorship taught me the importance of advocating for oneself and others, fostering fairness, and standing up for what is right. One memorable experience highlighted the importance of leadership that champions its team members. Despite facing challenges and receiving less than favorable feedback on a project, my mentor intervened, ensuring that my efforts were acknowledged and appreciated by upper management. This instilled in me a sense of confidence and reinforced the significance of supportive leadership.

Inspired by my mentor's impact, I strive to cultivate an environment at Herbein where every team member feels valued, supported, and recognized for their unique contributions. I prioritize open communication, fairness, and advocacy, drawing from the lessons learned under his guidance.

For women seeking career growth, I advise advocating for yourself, communicating your aspirations, building a strong network, developing leadership skills, negotiating confidently, and embracing positivity. Together, we amplify our collective power and create an environment where everyone can thrive.

Thinking about my career, I find immense satisfaction in witnessing the professional growth of individuals within the HR team and contributing to the overall workplace culture. Implementing initiatives that foster diversity, inclusion, and employee well-being has been particularly rewarding. Additionally, navigating organizational challenges and contributing to the success of our firm alongside my colleagues has been deeply fulfilling.

Ultimately, the most rewarding aspects of my career have been the human connections forged, the positive impact on workplace culture, and the collective successes achieved through effective leadership in HR.

Stacy Weller, CPA
Partner – Herbein + Company, Inc.

Weller_2021 (9)As I considered my future career, I knew being independent, and being able to provide for myself and a future family were important to me. Accounting had a lot of options with strong career choices, and after following my tax internship at Herbein, and taking my tax course at Kutztown University, I knew exactly where I belonged, as I quickly fell in love with tax.

I often tell younger colleagues that they will make mistakes, and there will be failures along the way. You need to be open to this – it means you are human. Learn from those mistakes, be humble, be honest, and move forward to do better the next time.

I am also a believer in working hard – and in trusting that your hard work will pay off. Raise your hand, be open to new opportunities. You will never go wrong in being your own biggest advocate, and in speaking up for yourself and your talents. And as you’re forging your own path, avoid the drama. This starts with not comparing yourself to others. Everyone has unique talents – and yours are likely different from mine; however, that does not mean they are not just as important and valuable to our organization.
As I look ahead, I know I will continue to feel rewarded in making a difference for others, by truly helping our team, and our clients.