Name: Chanta Givens
Hometown: Little Rock, AR
College/University: University of Arkansas; University of Texas at Dallas
Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; Master of Science in Accounting
Could you give us a short introduction on who you are and what you do?
I am a financial accountant for independent physician groups. When I’m not working I enjoy learning more about the word of God, cooking, biking, running (I’m currently training for a marathon), and reading. I have a heart for young girls. Through various organizations and church I mentor young girls. I think it’s important for young girls to have someone to talk to, confide in, and sometimes simply to hang out. Most importantly, I try to be a Godly example to these young ladies. A lot of society portrays that women have to be a certain body type, dress provocatively, or act in a certain manner. It’s my heart’s desire to show them that you do not have to demean yourself in order to be respected, loved, or accepted. Not only that, but I enjoy guiding them in their various career paths and encouraging them to believe in themselves and not give up.
How did you find/obtain your job?
My career began in public accounting at a Big 4 accounting firm. My recruitment for a Big 4 accounting firm seemed to last over the span of my undergraduate career. During my freshman year, NABA (National Association of Black Accountants) provided me the opportunity to get in front of c-suite executives at companies such as Tyson Foods. As a result, I was able to meet with the accounting partner at Walmart and develop a relationship with him and another member of the team (who just so happened to be a black woman and eventually became one of my mentors). After attending the NABA regional conference I was offered an interview and then offered an internship. At this point in my life, things had gone exactly how I planned. However, after almost five years I decided that public accounting was not the best route for me and moved into the private sector as it gives me more time to do other things I’m passionate about. I was able to find my current job using a recruiter. While I am still in accounting I now provide financial services to independent physician groups.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Each month I provide financial statements to my physician groups (approximately 6 clients). We provide information such as total patients, the level of severity of each patient, expenses incurred, collections from payers (Blue Cross, Medicare, etc.). Because of various payroll models I have to calculate payroll. Another typical task would be to ensure that all of my clients’ bills are paid properly and timely.
What do you like most about your job? Least?
I tend to get a lot of ad hoc tasks which I thoroughly enjoy because it provides an opportunity to learn a new skill set. For example, physicians always want to know how well they are performing. To walk them through their performance metrics, I put together data tables which break down the various components that drive their compensation. What do I like least…TAXES. I am not a tax accountant lol. However, we have to calculate the clients’ book basis and convert to tax basis to send to their respective tax accountants. I only understand enough to properly calculate the taxes, other than that…I DO NOT LIKE TAXES!
How do you feel being a Black woman in your industry?
Across all demographics men still dominate the accounting industry; however, the number of women in accounting is starting to increase. While this is true, women of color still have a long way to go. It was obvious in my accounting classes. I was one of two black women in my accounting courses in undergrad. It was about the same in graduate school.
What advice would you give someone seeking to enter this industry?
I think it’s important to have an idea of what you enjoy doing so that you know where to start. For me, it was public accounting, but because of the work demand and other passions in my life I realized that auditing was not the end for me. It’s okay if you do not end up where you started. An accounting degree provides an array of opportunities but you cannot be afraid to venture outside of what you know or are familiar with.
What advice would you give to other women of color who want to be like you?
Do not give up! Continue to work hard and set yourself apart. While I’ve accomplished so much in my career there’s one thing that I feel like I have not yet accomplished…obtaining my CPA. Many times I would get discouraged because I studied so hard yet I did not pass. But I have not given up. It is still one of my goals, and I am determined not to let my own self talk defeat me!
What would you tell your 16 year old self? While I was pretty focused on my studies I struggled with self-worth (which has a lot to do with my passion for young girls). I would tell myself that you are chosen, set apart, and appointed. That you are more precious than rubies. Do not compare yourself to others and walk in your purpose and do what you know to be right.
Who do you aspire to be? Who are your role models – dead or alive?
I aspire to be someone who lived out her purpose and for God to say well done thy good and faithful servant. Your job, accolades, or social activities do not mean anything if you were not purposed to do them. I have a few mentors that I admire for various reasons as they are in different seasons in their lives (wives, mothers, single women, women in great careers). In general, I choose role models based on what my goals are and seek out someone who’s accomplished that goal well…not to be like them, but to glean from them based on their experience and journey to accomplish that goal.
What is the most important thing you’ve done in your lifetime so far?
It would be walking in my purpose. Do I have 100% of it all figured out…no, I don’t. But I do know that the desires that God has placed on my heart are being lived out in my life. It’s a journey to understanding your purpose, but each day I ask for wisdom so that I know how to achieve and live out my purpose.