In her 25 years as a financial professional, Bonnie Beardsworth has purposely worked at companies that support her desire to give back to the community.
“I’m glad to be able to give back,” she said. “I want Cedar Rapids to be a great place to live. We need to do our part to make it the best it can be.”
To give back to her community, Ms. Beardsworth has served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cedar Rapids, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, the Cedar Rapids Symphony, Waypoint, United Way and Leadership for Five Seasons, and has volunteered for Metro Catholic Outreach and the Zach Johnson Foundation.
Ms. Beardsworth also serves as school board president at Regis Middle School where her daughter is a student, but doesn’t “count school activities as volunteering, because it is a role as a parent.”
Usually, she serves as the treasurer of boards or performs other duties that utilize her accounting skills, which she has been honing since her days as a student at Maquoketa High School.
“I knew when I was a junior in high school that I was going to be an accountant,” she recalled. “There has to be a right answer.”
After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1989 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, Ms. Beardsworth joined the staff at McGladrey & Pullen as a general service accountant. That’s was where she met her current boss, Kris Gulick, president of the Entrepreneurial Services Group in Cedar Rapids.
“She has an unusual combination of very strong accounting technical skills and communication skills,” Mr. Gulick wrote in his nomination letter. “It should be expected that a CFO and controller have strong accounting and finance skills, but it is just as important for that individual to be able to communicate to management about the meaning of the financial information.”
Ms. Beardsworth joined Mr. Gulick’s team in 2010 after 16 years at The Gazette Co. and a brief stint as senior accountant of St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation.
At the time, she wanted to spend more time with her young daughter and be involved in community activities, so she worked “very part-time” with one client. She now has a dozen clients ranging in size from a factory with 200 employees to a nonprofit without any employees. Her meetings with them range from once a month to once a week.
Getting to know clients and meeting with them at their place of business are important pieces of Ms. Beardsworth’s process.
“When I start with a new client, I ask a lot of questions to get to know the business,” she said. “Would I prefer to sit at a desk and crunch numbers? Oh yes. But that doesn’t work. You need to talk to all of their employees.”
Mr. Gulick wrote that Ms. Beardsworth’s flexibility and ability to adapt to each client’s needs make her an invaluable member of his staff and an indispensible partner to clients.
“Despite being an outside CFO for the organizations that she works with, Bonnie is always viewed by management as a member of their management team,” he wrote. “Her ability to move back and forth from one business task to another is incredible.”
While technology has drastically changed in the past 25 years, moving from desktop computers to handheld smartphones, the principles of accounting remain the same, Ms. Beardsworth said.
“Our role is to get info ready for tax time, close out the year and make sure financial info is accurate,” she said.
She and her husband, Jim, a financial executive at Transamerica, and their 13-year-old daughter live in Cedar Rapids. Mr. Beardsworth also has three adult children.
– Angela Holmes