Nick Simon is currently an assurance director in the Agribusiness and Cooperatives Group at CLA in New Ulm. Here’s a look at the steps he took to get there and the passion that drives his work with various industries.
What steps did you take to get to your current position?
I attended St. John’s University for accounting and passed the CPA exam after graduating. While in college, I completed the summer experience program with CLA, which involved three days of different activities to get to know the firm and public accounting in general. I was offered a full-time job from that experience. I began as an associate working in various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing (and) nonprofit, but I knew I had a passion for agriculture. I continued to narrow my focus down to our agribusiness and cooperatives group, primarily on the assurance side. As I have continued to grow and learn more about the ag industry, I’ve developed an even stronger passion for the farming community and the businesses that support it. That passion and desire to learn more about ag is the primary reason that I was able to become an assurance director.
Why did you choose this career path?
I chose this career path because I enjoy learning about agriculture and businesses in agriculture. I grew up on a dairy farm and know the hard work that is put into the farm. While we don’t have cows anymore, my family and I still run our family farm just doing row crops. Understanding the numbers from a financial perspective is such an important factor in owning a business, especially in farming. Developing my knowledge in accounting has helped me understand how to run my own farm better and it has enabled me to do the same with our clients.
What personal strengths help you excel in your chosen career?
I believe my organizational and critical thinking skills have helped me excel in this career. Accounting is all about problem solving and figuring out puzzles, and I get to do that every day. I am also very detail-oriented, which helps to find the answers to those puzzling questions that come up in accounting.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is visiting clients and being able to tour their farm or business. Our clients are always excited to show us what they have been doing or tell us about goals that they have for the future. By really understanding their business, I am better able to help them achieve those goals.
What inspires/drives you?
My long-term goals for my farm and my family drive me. My wife and I have many visions of what we want our future to look like, including traveling and purchasing a lake home for us and our kids to enjoy in the future. Our goals for the farm include expanding in order to allow one or more of our children to be able to farm if they wish and to be successful with it. My goals for our farm are similar to many of my clients’ (goals). That like-mindedness is what inspires me to continue to learn and grow in my career.
What advice would you give to other young professionals?
I would tell other young professionals to have confidence in themselves. There are always going to be times when you fail. But if you stay positive and have confidence, you will be successful, whether that be in your career or in your life in general. Trust yourself and your abilities.
What books, podcasts or videos have helped you?
I primarily use books, podcasts and videos to help (myself) unwind, which I believe is also important for having a successful career. I enjoy books written by James Patterson, which help me relax and refresh. These things help me to relax and take a break when I need to, (so I can) come back more focused and refreshed to my work.
What app can’t you live without?
Maps. With traveling quite a bit for my career, it is extremely helpful to be able to not worry about getting lost on the way to a client, conference or other event.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself continuing to help clients run successful agricultural businesses using the knowledge I have gained and will continue to build over my career. I also see myself using that knowledge to take advantage of my own opportunities to expand my family’s farm and ensure it is successful for the generations that come after me.
Agribusiness and Cooperatives Group at CLA