We all know the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A fireman, superstar, famous athlete – the choices were endless when you were young. You were asked it for years, and now you’re likely asking your own children or mentee the same question.

Dr. Suess said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Likely, what you fantasized about being when you were 5 years, 10 years, even 20 years old, isn’t where you are now. Read on to discover what a few of our HeimLantz team members wanted to be when they grew up, and how they got to where they are today.

Paul Abbou
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a history researcher.

Why did you want to be that? I loved history and the impact it has on current events.

When did your career path change? I started to believe that this was not a very marketable degree.

How did you become an accountant? I was working for the FBI in a support capacity, and accounting was one of the two degrees preferred for becoming an agent. The other was law. I enjoyed my first accounting class immensely and realized that this was the profession for me. Once I earned my degree, I left the FBI to go into public accounting.

Amy Smith
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. It changed from a teacher to a French teacher in high school, then finally I decided I wanted to go into accounting in college.

Why did you want to be that? I wanted to be a French teacher because I love everything French and I enjoy teaching. I took French lessons as a kid and had so much fun learning how to communicate in a different language. When I took French again in high school and college, I soaked up how the French communicate. Every sentence drips with emotion and beauty, and everything sounds so meaningful, even mundane things like filling up a car with gasoline. Their manner of communicating is so different from the way Americans communicate.

When did your career path change? I decided I wanted to major in something that had a better job outlook right out of college. My university had a wonderful 5-year accounting program in place where you could obtain a Master’s degree and sit for the CPA exam upon graduation, so it was a really easy decision to major in accounting.

How did you become an accountant? The first accounting class I took was challenging, and it took a lot of focus to “learn the language of accounting,” so to speak. The first few years of college, my sister and I had different spring breaks. My sister and my mom celebrated my sister’s spring break, and my dad and I visited Montreal that first year of college for my spring break. We went sightseeing and enjoyed being in a French city, and he also helped me understand accounting. I brought my accounting textbook with me and we spent hours reading and talking about it. I will never forget spending that time with my father and finally understanding debits and credits.

Lindsay Douglas
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a pharmacist.

Why did you want to be that? Both of my parents are in the medical field and it seemed like a way I could help people without dealing directly with the illnesses.

When did your career path change? My career path changed during my freshman year of college.

How did you become an accountant? I really enjoyed math and numbers, but I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. So I looked at my options and decided on accounting. I took a beginning financial accounting class my freshman year of college and really enjoyed it so that’s when I decided my major would be accounting.

Renee Cosgrove
What did you want to be when you grew up? My dream growing up was always to be an actor and writer. I was obsessed with writing. As a kid, I use to write scripts and make the kids in my neighborhood put on plays for our parents and friends. Throughout school, I participated in theater, writing and speech classes, and following high school I applied for The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I was so sure that I was meant to be in show business!

Why did you want to be that? To put it simply, I have always loved words and drama. I would get so caught up in books- the plots and characters, trials and tribulation. Stories fascinated me, and I wanted to create them.

When did your career path change? I couldn’t get into UArts right away, so I decided to enroll in the local community college focusing on English and Journalism as a major. Shortly after starting school, I got promoted within the company I was working for, I ended up making that job my full-time focus, and I stayed on that career path for 17 years.

How did you become an accountant? My position it at HeimLantz provides me with the ability to be creative, focused, have fun, and most importantly, write! My passion for writing has never gone away. While I am not somewhere in Hollywood, creating a screenplay and drafting a script for the next blockbuster, I appreciate the opportunity to be innovative, work as a team and enjoy the trials and tribulation of the accounting world!

Tommy Lantz
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why did you want to be that?
I wanted to be a golf teaching professional. Through my middle school and high school years, my life centered on school and sports. I played sports pretty much year round – in the fall it was football, winter it was basketball, and spring it was baseball. As many young men believe, I thought that sports would definitely be a part of what I did in the future that would earn money and create a life for myself. I grew up in southern Maryland, specifically Camp Springs, and in between 7th and 8th grade my family moved to Ft. Washington, MD. It was there that I got involved with golf at a young age. Many of the friends that I made when I moved to Ft. Washington also played golf. Golf quickly became a passion of mine, and it took up much if not all of my free time. I got a job at the local golf course and quickly became friends with the golf professionals that worked there.

During the summer months, I was sometimes working 7 days a week. I would try to pick up as many work shifts as I could just to be up at the course. As a result of working at the course, I created strong relationships with the teaching professionals that also worked there. This got me free lessons, and I would often spend time on the driving range with them picking up pointers and learning from their skills. I quickly became more and more skilled at the game due to the free training that I received working at the golf course. I started playing in local tournaments, played on the golf team in high school, and actually won the junior club championship where I worked. The time spent with these professionals was the catalyst that kick started my desire to do what they were doing for a career; teaching and working at a golf course.

Due to the success I had on my high school golf team, there were a few smaller colleges that were interested in me to play golf at the school. For reasons I don’t remember, I chose to go to the University of MD in College Park and try out for the golf team. Unfortunately, I did not make the team my freshman year, and the challenge of the transition from high school to college academics put golf low on my priority list. Over the next couple years I did not play much if at all. During this time frame, I continued to work at the golf course during the summer breaks, but my desire to make golf a career waned. I did eventually try out and make the team my junior year at UMD, but this did not rekindle the desire to potentially make golf a career.

In taking classes at Maryland, I took a strong liking to my Economics classes and decided to major in Economics. I graduated from UMD with an Economics degree, and through family connections was introduced to someone at the Naval Intelligence Agency (NIA). I applied for a position at NIA and was preliminarily accepted pending security clearance. I started the security clearance process early in 1990, and all checked out fine. As things were beginning to wrap up with my clearance, the Gulf War escalated in the Middle East, and George H. W. Bush initiated a hiring freeze, and the position at NIA was eliminated. Ugh! Back to the starting point. I was unsure as to what I wanted to do, and unclear what my next steps would be as far as work, or a career.

When did your career path change? How did you become an accountant?
It’s usually during difficult times you rely heavily on family and friends for guidance or direction, and that is exactly what I did. Both of my parents were CPAs, and they had started their own successful business that had put me and my two sisters through college, and gave us all the necessities that we needed growing up. I spoke with both of them about the struggle I was dealing with, and it was during one discussion that my career path took a turn that I was never anticipating. They suggested that I come work part time in their business and see how I liked it. They were constantly looking for good people to grow the business.

So I started working at the family business, something I never thought I would do. I learned more of what they did, and the types of businesses and clients they worked with, and met other young professionals that also worked there. I loved it. Over the next few years there were major changes in my life. I went back to school at night and got my accounting degree, worked a full-time job, got married, had a son, and lost my mom tragically. Looking back, it was the most difficult time of my life. The one thing that has stayed constant since that period of my life (other than my son and adding another son) has been my career. Fast forward to 2001 and HeimLantz was formed from a merger of two wonderful firms, and we are still going strong today!

In retrospect, my career actually supported me through one of the most difficult times in my life. My profession, and the relationships that I have created as a result of what I do for a living, has probably been the most significant influence in shaping who I am today. I love what I do. True statement!