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To Thine Own Self Be True

Accounting firm leader Jody Dolan Holehouse `81 talks about the key to success in her field, beyond the numbers

By Marge Perko


Jody Dolan Holehouse `81

Certified public accountant and firm partner Jody Dolan Holehouse `81 could have spent her career poring over scores instead of spreadsheets. “I went to UCSB as a piano performance major,” she said. “I had a huge passion for it.”

But as she went through her college requirements, she realized the stage was not where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. “The ages from 18 to 22 is a growing time,” she said. “Your eyes are just opening up to the world. One day, I looked up and had to decide what do – and I wanted something else. I remembered had taken a bookkeeping class in high school, and went from there.”

Now a partner at Santa Barbara accounting firm Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co., LLP (NHH & Co.), Holehouse has worked in the accounting field for over three decades. “This career? I liked it when I started and I continue to love it,” she said. “This is my 36th tax season – every day is new and different. You are dealing with all the technical aspects and all the people aspects – you are helping people create and run their businesses.”

Before she graduated from UCSB in 1981, Holehouse began her accounting career at Sloan Technology Corporation in 1978. “I had the opportunity to work in the industry, in public accounting,” she said. “From then on, it was a natural progression.”

After graduation, Holehouse earned her CPA license and her Certified Management Accountant designation while working at Bartlett, Pringle and Wolf in Santa Barbara. In 1993, she joined Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co. “When I had the choice, I stayed in Santa Barbara,” she said. “I saw myself not fitting in the big firm environment.”

At every fork in the road of her career, Holehouse recognized the need to be true to her strengths – and to be honest about what she wanted out of life.

“We alumni have things to say about the business and a lot of important real-life lessons we can share with the students,” she said. “Most important is realizing how to know yourself as a professional. It’s important for us professionals to gain access to the students and have them to get to know us, as who we really are.”

She shares these important life lessons with college students today by representing NHH & Co. at events hosted by the UCSB Undergraduate Accounting Society, where she was honored as a distinguished alumna of the UCSB Economics Department in 1999.

“Annually, we do one or two accounting association involvements,” she said. “We try to get out there at every opportunity we can. We are all competing for the best and brightest. The big firms, they’re hiring 20 or 30 students – we are hiring 4 to 6 here at our firm. The accounting students have had great success – this is one of the more practical degrees that the kids get at UCSB.”

Holehouse hopes future accountants take into consideration personal strengths that go beyond just being able to grapple with the numbers. “Knowing yourself – who you are – is vital,” she said. “You need to have the fortitude to do it better and better – and have the stamina to re-read and check every detail and focus on the business relationships.”

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