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When considering the many paths that professionals take to get to the role of a CPA or industry professional, a military background may rank as one of the unlikeliest. However, that’s exactly where Lt. Gabrielle Groom of Padgett, Stratemann & Co., in Austin, TX, originated from before transitioning over to her accounting career.

Lt. Groom was born in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, TX and raised in the DC Metro Area. She is the third of four children, with her older brother David also currently serving in the military as an Air Force C-5 pilot. Groom decided only in high school that she was going to join the Navy, and shortly after graduation, she enlisted, was processed through the Baltimore MEPS, and attended Boot Camp at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes.

While fulfilling her military career, Groom initially completed the requirements for her Associates Degree in Spanish Language Studies. Later on, she obtained her B.A degree in International Business and Accounting from the University of Texas at San Antonio while still fulfilling full-time active duty assignments.

“I really [went] to school to get into international business and be a liaison for the US,” says Groom. “I still thought I would do high-level security intelligence. [But] I did want a little bit of a change; something a little more black and white.”

Groom explains that while attending UT San Antonio she was approached one day by Dr. James Groff, a professor in the school’s accounting department. It was via Groff that she learned that the profession was just what she was looking for in a post-military career.

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“[He] built this confidence in me to explore the field,” says Groom. “He opened my eyes to what opportunities exist in accounting than I ever imagined.”

And much to Lt. Groom’s surprise, her military skills had as much more to do with accounting than she gave herself credit for.

“As a service member, you’re always working as a team; it’s always ‘us,’” says Groom. “As an auditor, it’s engagement teams, team-oriented; learning to work together. My discipline really carries over into researching an audit and asking the right questions when talking to a client. Taking that leadership position on an engagement and having that confidence without having all the information to carry you through.”

Lt. Groom says that the transition from military duty to civilian life/career might seem daunting for service members, but if they examine their skillsets and use their military experiences to move forward, having a thriving career is well beyond possible.

“I think a lot of service members undervalue what’s engrained in them since the beginning,” says Groom. “Leadership skills are a skillset that [are] repeatedly…put in a position to complete something. We feel like we sometimes don’t fit into the civilian lifestyle. [Leadership], actually, not only carries over, but it gives a service member an advantage out in a civilian career."

Lt. Groom is currently studying for two exams to become a certified CPA. She still serves as an Intel Officer in the Naval Reserves.

"There are so many situations that make you doubt joining the military," she says. " [But] to sit through that experience, you face and learn from it and take that to your next challenge.”

Lt. Groom is the first entry in our ongoing series on intriguing professionals. If you have a submission that we should know about, email sean.mccabe@sourcemedia.com.


Other entries include: