Marilyn Lunnemann - Always Learning

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It's not enough that Marilyn Lunnemann has a bachelor's degree in mathematics, and minors in accounting, French, and music, a strong background in computer technology, and CPA and Certified Information Technology Professional Certificates. The education background, she notes is, "not necessarily the customary mix for a partner in a CPA firm!"

During her career, she has been continuously enrolled in college courses about operating systems, applications, and database classes through colleges in St. Louis. It's a strong commitment to learning.

"I have never stopped learning," says Lunnemann, who is an avid reader of books about business and management, a taste that comes into play in her role as a partner-in-charge of IT services at St. Louis-based Humes & Barrington.

Partner Insights

In running the 10-person unit, that draws its revenue about equally from technology planning and deployment services and software reselling, she utilizes the knowledge she got in audit at Arthur Andersen, where she was involved in strategic planning, and in controllership services, where she got started in computer systems by helping select them.

Lunnemann has done things a bit differently. She started at the firm in 1985, as a part-time partner, at a time when female partners were not numerous and being a part-timer equity owner "was unheard of," she says.

With $6.5 million in annual revenue, the firm is headed for $7 million in its current fiscal year with an IT department that is staffed with a combination of accounting technology consultants.

"We even have a couple of die-hard MCSE technology consultants. But even those guys have run their own businesses," she says.

Besides the planning and deployment services, the IT department sells Sage Software's Accpac ERP and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Lunnemann, herself, is a certified consultant for both Accpac and GP with industry specializations that include distribution, manufacturing, service, and not-for-profit organizations. She also has technology consulting specializations in integrated-solution design, application selection, and project management through development and deployment phases.

Involved in the community as chair of the Greater St. Louis YMCA, she is also involved in the profession as a member of the Sage Leadership Alumni Association and the Information Technology Alliance.

Lunnemann says both sides of the group's IT business fit into a single concept.

"I think our objective foremost is to make our clients succeed. It's never just to sell boxes," she says.

Lunnemann notes that her audit experience was helpful because she entered the profession at a time when it was transitioning from spreadsheet-based audits to transactional flow analysis.

That approach helps when her department does a requirements analysis, which often includes documenting a client's processes. Often, the staff uses Visio, a Microsoft business and technical diagramming application, to document the processes. Often, Lunnemann's group finds that "what they think are their processes are not their processes."

The firm leadership believes that all members of the team are involved in leadership at some point.

"Some of the things they are expected to do is help identify ideas and opportunities from the clients' perspective and to help determine what we could be doing better, where we could be changing and become more proactive with our clients or more effective," she says. "They also help us with our communications; when we are not communicating as effectively as we think we are."

The firm also tries to go beyond simple one-off kinds of sales.

"We are looking for solutions we have that are repeatable, marketable solutions," she says. That means that there are standard operating procedures and the firm doesn't have to re-invent the process with each engagement, which makes them more profitable.

HUMES & BARRINGTON

HQ: St. Louis

Revenue: $6.5 million

Partners: 8

Professional Certifications: CPA, CITP

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