Susan Crane – My career has been split in to two phases. I am a CPA and worked in public accounting for 16 years with Ernst & Young and Andrews Hooper & Pavlik rising from a staff accountant through the ranks to finally becoming the first woman partner at Andrews Hooper & Pavlik. I later came to work for Saginaw Valley State University where I have worked for 19 years originally as the Controller and now as the Associate Vice President for Administration & Business Affairs.
I feel like it is a time for reflection and gratitude. Not just to give appreciation to those that have helped to pave the way but also for the people who continue to make the world a better place now and for the future. It’s a time to think about the kind of world we want to live in and capacity we each have to help make it that way.
I am going to start with a quick story. When I first entered public accounting, while there were female secretaries, there were very few female CPAs. Our office was down the road from the Saginaw Club, which at the time was a men’s club. We had various meetings and events at the club, but women were only allowed in the meeting and banquet rooms upstairs. Women could not be on the first floor. There was a separate set of stairs at the back that women had to use to get upstairs; so when we went there for meetings, the guys would all go in the front door and the few women had to go around and go up the back. It is great to see how far we have come and how things have changed.
I have been very blessed to have a strong support network of family and coworkers. Early on in my career I was often the only one, or one of very few women, in the meeting — which was tough, at first. Over the years, there has always the need to balance family, work and volunteering. I think it has been important to understand what you want to achieve and why — and then be willing to work to do it.
I once read “Don’t settle for less just because it is available to you.” And I feel that is good advice. Decide what it is you really want and then trust in yourself to make it happen.
As I look back, I feel like I try to make a difference by leading by example. In the various positions I have held, both through work and through civic and volunteer organizations, I was often one of the first women filling that role, and helping to pave the way. When I was in public accounting, I did a lot of recruiting and helped to recruit and hire more women. Once I was in a position to do so, I continued to hire and promote women and to hopefully serve as a role model to them.
6. Who was your role model and how did they change your life?
I feel the women in my family are my role models in many ways. My mother instilled a strong work ethic in us and the importance of giving back. She also instilled the belief that we could be anything we wanted to be. My great grandparents came to the United States as migrant workers to provide opportunity for their family. My great grandmother worked in the fields alongside my great grandfather while raising six children. Now her grandchildren and great grandchildren are teachers, lawyers, health professionals and accountants — all of us working in our own way to continue to make a difference for others.
I hope that they continue to strive to be who they are and who they want to be, free of any preconceptions of what they should be.
“A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch but in her wings.”
— Author Unknown