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Jason Dangler

"I've held four jobs," says Jason Dangler, a CPA who works with an auditing agency for the federal government, "…and in every position it always comes down to—"

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Jason Dangler


Federal Government Contractor
Seattle, WA

"I've held four jobs," says Jason Dangler, a CPA who works with an auditing agency for the federal government, "…and in every position it always comes down to—"

Wait. Rather than give away his gem of wisdom in the first sentence, how about starting with a little background? Jason graduated from Purdue University in 2004 with his Bachelor's in Accounting and Management. In '06 he passed all four parts of the exam, and in '07 he became a CPA. He originally worked in property management accounting and then moved into corporate accounting for real estate investment, applying what he learned about equity method, fair value accounting and other specific GAAP knowledge to help numerous clients manage their finances.

And now for the federal government, he tracks down ways to save taxpayers money. When the federal government wants someone to audit defense contracts and make sure Uncle Sam (and, by extension, you) are getting what was paid for, they send in Jason. It's serious stuff – his assignments are so high-level, actually, that he wasn't allowed to disclose just what he was working on when this interview was done. But it’s okay to state his basic objective: “If you find something huge that’s unallowable in a contract and save the taxpayers millions of dollars,” he says, “That’s a win.” We can also tell you how he got the job: “I applied at,” he says, referring to the Federal Government’s official jobs site. “I applied in February and got the position in August.”

So in addition to the super-secret government job, Jason is heavily involved (as in Co-Chair of the New Professionals Committee) with the Washington Society of CPAs. And in all this stuff, he's "focused," "detail-oriented," and all the other nice things an agency loves to see in an accountant. He’s even helping launch a pilot program this year that will match up students with people who are already in the field – Jason and seven of his colleagues will each provide one-on-one mentorship. Pretty impressive.

But back to his quote. "It always comes down to…making things understandable for other people." That – not math skills, not a great memory, not a winning smile – is what adds up to success in the accounting profession, says Jason. "When you’re first getting into this," he explains, "You have to be able to not only get the job done, but to also be very descriptive about how you did it. So later, when somebody tries to pick up where you left off, they aren't scratching their heads."

See? Communication Skills = Efficiency = Success. Constantly be improving your writing and speaking abilities and you’ll stay on the right track. "It’s just a recurring theme," he adds. "And it's something we never talked about in college, but it’s *really* important." Another asset is the knack for picking stuff up quickly, he says. “Being able to do the research mostly on your own, is huge,” he says. “It makes everybody else’s job easier.”

Making everybody else’s job easier comes, well, easily to Jason. A passion for helping people is what compels him to work so much with his local society of CPAs, mentoring those accounting newbies. It's why he co-chairs the New Professionals Committee, in fact. And it's probably why he agreed to share what he's learned on this site – even if he can't tell us where he's working right now.

Wherever it is, though, it’s obvious they’re lucky to have him. “Probably the best thing about accounting,” he says, “is that you play such a vital role in any business you’re a part of. You can help a company save money… or, in my case, help taxpayers save money. I mean, there’s so much out there you can use your knowledge for.” And he’s about to gather up even more knowledge, all of which will be well-documented, you can bet – Jason’s starting courses to earn his MBA this fall.

  • 7am: Breakfast with Washington Society of CPAs

    Enjoying bagels and O.J. while listening to a speaker explain current developments in auditing. (A nice opportunity to get out for breakfast, and the CPE credits I earn also put me a little closer to fulfilling my state requirement – 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education every three years.)

  • 8am: Make calls to support audit

    Call contractor to get more information for the audit. (Unfortunately we can’t say here who the contractor is, or what I’m asking them.) I could also use this time to take an online training course on, say, the latest updates to audit contract costs – that counts toward my CPE requirement too.

  • 9am: Staff meeting - 3 hours

    Head to the office conference room for the monthly meeting. About 20 of us get together to discuss new procedures, recent audit issues and how to improve our audits. 

    If it’s my turn to facilitate, I’ll be logged in to the intranet, bringing up the new guidance from headquarters on my laptop, so I can put the info up on the screen for everyone to see. One nice perk – I get to pay attention to the presentation instead of taking notes,since somebody else is assigned to send out the meeting’s minutes afterward.

  • 12pm: Lunch

    I usually have whatever I packed for myself that morning, or go out with co-workers, but today is a mentor lunch with the WSCPA. We’re launching a new mentorship program this year, and part of that includes several of us sitting down and talking with somebody who’s in training to become a CPA, hopefully finding out what they most need to know.

  • 1pm: Finalizing audit reports - 2 hours

    Put finishing touches on the latest audit, including a summary of how it all came together and what it means. I also make any final fixes based on guidance from our audit checklist program – just one more way of making sure everything’s where it should be, all is initialed and no links are broken. Clean audits make for happy auditors.

  • 3pm: Peer review of audit - 2 hours

    Every audit we do is reviewed by another staffer who has never seen it before, to make sure even someone seeing it “blind” can understand what’s going on. (There’s a Supervisory Review with a higher-up as well, but that person may have been involved in the audit. So this is important too.) I’ll start going through this mystery audit, making sure it’s all crystal clear by the end, and on the back I’ll provide any comments I may have for the auditor.

  • 5pm: WSCPA New Professionals Meeting

    Head to The Washington Society of CPAs HQ in Bellevue for a New Professionals meeting. About 20 of us will catch up on WSCPA activities and share the conversation with any members who may be calling in remotely. (I’m always there in person, of course, since I’m the one running the meeting.)

  • 6pm: Discuss upcoming networking events

    Check status on what’s coming up and brainstorm other ways to reach out to new CPAs. We could be discussing last week’s billiards tournament (how many people came, what they liked or didn’t, etc) or we could be discussing our group’s biggest event: The annual cruise on Puget Sound. Every August, we and about 200 other area professionals (lawyers, bankers and the like) head out on the water to talk shop, plan new business efforts and just enjoy the beauty of a late summer day in Washington.

  • 7pm: Finish networking meeting, get ready for new day

    I may go out with other committee members for an after-meeting dinner, or just head home and update the WSCPA New Professionals page on Facebook.

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