On the job with Cynthia DuPree

Cynthia DuPree is a CPA, CCS with Draffin & Tucker, LLP.

Cynthia DuPree is a CPA, CCS with Draffin & Tucker, LLP.

“On the Job with....” is a weekly Sunday Inc. series spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today’s interview is with Cynthia DuPree, a CPA, CCS with Draffin & Tucker, LLP.


NAME: Cindy DuPree

POSITION: Healthcare Consulting Partner with Draffin & Tucker, LLP.

BACKGROUND: DuPree has been associated with Draffin & Tucker for 23 years. She also has worked with two large hospital systems — Medical Center of Central Georgia and Phoebe Putney Health System — during her career. She consults primarily with hospital clients throughout the country on reimbursement and operational issues. She also spends a significant amount of time educating and training hospital financial staff for national and state health associations.

FAMILY: She has been married for 40 years to Wayne DuPree and has a son, Dusty, who lives in Alpharetta with his wife, Kristen.

ETC: DuPree has been a member of First United Methodist Church for more than 20 years. She is a Sunday School teacher to the Women of Worship class.

Q. What was your first job?

A. I worked with Georgia Power during the summer while in college, however my first full-time job was in 1973 with American-McGaw Laboratories in Milledgeville, Ga. I worked as a cost accountant to monitor the cost of producing plastic bottles that were used in giving IV drugs to patients. I worked there for about nine months, before moving to Albany due to my husband’s job transfer.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. Wow, that was a long, long time ago for me, but it was probably used to help pay my college tuition and books. I married while a sophomore in college and worked summers to earn money to pay my college expenses.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. The most effective technique is to hire the right people. There are three consultants at Draffin & Tucker who work directly for me, and each one is very self-motivated. This makes my job very easy since I am blessed with good employees that I can depend on.

Q. What led you to your current position, or career field?

A. When I was beginning my senior year in high school, my Aunt Shirley encouraged me to become an accountant. So I took a bookkeeping course my high school senior year and absolutely loved it. I am a very structured person and the process of putting “debits and credits” in the right places and the numbers balancing was perfect for me. Before I went to college, I knew I wanted to be an accountant.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. I have several that have “molded” my career over the years. My parents, of course, gave me a good foundation encouraging me to reach any goal that I set for myself and to have a strong work ethic. Charlie Jenkins was my first mentor when I began work at Mauldin & Jenkins. He taught me a lot about client respect and integrity. Will Kidd, a former partner of Mauldin & Jenkins, and Jim Blanchard, a former partner with Draffin & Tucker, provided me with great technical skills and attention to detail. And I am mentored daily by God through his Holy Spirit.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Business is, and has always been, cyclical. Planning is essential. Don’t be overly cautious, but always be prepared for the unexpected.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology — examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. — what would you most like to see go away?

A. Annoying cell phone ringtones. I may be in the minority and old-fashioned, but some of the ringtones I hear have no place in the workplace.

Q. What is your favorite

work-related gadget?

A. My husband recently bought me an iPad. Many conferences I attend no longer supply handouts, but rather post the information on the Internet. I can download the handouts on to the iPad and then refer to these during the conference, as well as make notes.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I try to save this task for my son and daughter-in-law each year.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. The last book I read was “The Orchard” by Jeffrey Stepakoff. He is a Georgia author and has recently written books taking place in Toccoa and Ellijay. I regularly read the Bible and Biblical references to provide material for teaching Sunday School.

Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. My morning routine depends upon where I am each morning. If I am in Albany, I usually wake up by

6 a.m. and try to make it to the gym (not very good at that). My husband brings me coffee each morning and we usually talk a while before getting ready for work. When I’m out of town, depending on the time zone, I may actually get to sleep later. But then, I have to make my own coffee.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Helping my husband build things, embroidering, crocheting, reading, teaching Sunday School, or anything that has absolutely nothing to do with accounting. Our first grandchild is due in January, so I’m sure I will have a new hobby then — babysitting my grandbaby.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I wouldn’t take anything back. Even the choices that appeared to be bad at the time ultimately became great learning experiences for me.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. There are several things I enjoy. I love teaching. I spend a great deal of time working with national and state hospital associations in providing training to hospital employees. It’s rewarding to take a very complex subject and break it down into more simple concepts for teaching. I enjoy working with a great group of partners and staff. A couple of years ago we started a voluntary Tuesday morning Bible study group at the office. We meet at 7:15 each Tuesday morning. It’s great to know that there are still opportunities today to worship in the workplace.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The travel and being away from home.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Bookkeeping my senior year in high school.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I really love what I do, but if I had to pick a second career it would definitely be teaching.

Q. Finish this thought; “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…

A. Playing with my grandchild.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Patience. You often come to work with your day planned, only to have it totally changed by circumstances outside of your control. You need a lot of patience to make it through those tough days.

Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. Since I’m not an economist, I won’t even try to guess at that one.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. I don’t own an iPod, but I do listen to XM radio. My favorite station is The Message.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. My best vacation was living on a catamaran for seven days and sailing in the British Virgin Islands with my husband and four best friends. We had a captain and chef, so all we did was relax.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Accountants are spending more time becoming business advisors and consultants, rather than “bean counters”. Changes in governmental regulations and health care reform have definitely caused us to become more flexible and creative in assisting our clients.