Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked. Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.
We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements. The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
Tracey Welch is an accounting and finance professional (CPA) with hands on experience in multiple industries, most recently in wine, agriculture, and winery management software. After obtaining a BS in Accounting at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and passing the CPA exam, she progressed through the ranks from staff consultant to senior manager at Price Waterhouse in financial systems consulting. She has worked in businesses ranging from family-owned to multinational corporations and has also had the opportunity to run her own business. She has strong project management and exceptional communication and presentation skills.
Currently, Tracey is the centerpoint of the long-term goal of making DaVero Farms & Winery sustainable economically, as well as agriculturally and environmentally. In addition to the normal juggling of the books and internal administration, she coordinates all of the certifications, including Biodynamic®, organic, and Fish Friendly Farming, as well as production. Tracey is also the President of CompleteDTC, a comprehensive DTC management system, where her passion for great customer service and support is driven this system to exceed expectations of its users.
Tracey is married to Carter, a business coach, and they have 3 almost-adult sons. Since their nest is semi-empty, they spend a lot of free time playing golf together. She’s also very active in her church, working with both youth and women’s groups. Now, that life is almost back to normal, Tracey is excited about doing more travelling to see family around the country and (hopefully soon) going abroad again.
How did you get into the wine industry and what was the journey to your current role at DaVero Farms & Winery?
I didn’t set out to get into the wine industry but it’s proved to be a really rewarding and interesting industry. I love working with people who are so passionate about the entire life cycle of the product from the agricultural side to harvest/crush, making wine, selling wine and building and maintaining customer relationships. My background was as a CPA and financial systems consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers from the time I graduated from college to the time I had my first child. I stayed at home raising my boys for about ten years which was about the same time my husband took a new job in Northern California. When we moved here, I was looking for a position where I could start part-time and move into full-time as the boys got older. The first job that I applied for that fit that description was at DaVero and it just happened to be in the wine industry. It really felt like I was meant to be there.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
Both leaving and reentering the work force to be at home with my kids was challenging. While I think it was the right choice for my family to stay home, I missed the intellectual challenge of being in the working world. I definitely went through a mini-identity crisis those first few months. And then coming back into the work world, there was the challenge of balancing work life and personal life and playing catch-up to some degree in what I had missed while being at home for ten years. The balance got easier and easier the older my boys were and the catch-up was much quicker and easier than I had imagined it would be. And the great thing is that I don’t regret my decisions at all.
What are your short term goals of your career and yourself?
In addition to my role at DaVero, the owner and I are involved in an exciting launch of a winery management software system for small direct-to-consumer wineries called CompleteDTC. Our goal is to increase our market share dramatically over the next few years. I’m looking forward to introducing CompleteDTC to wineries all over the country and helping them grow their businesses.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?
There are two things my dad advised me to do that have served me well. First, in middle school he made me take a typing class which I didn’t want to do because I told him that didn’t want to be a secretary. But now that I’m on a computer all the time, I’m so thankful I’ve got that skill. Second, he really encouraged me to major in accounting. It has opened so many doors for me including my first job and helping me to reenter the workforce after I had my family. It’s a skill that’s always in demand but also in terms of education, I think it really helped me to understand business from a higher and more wholistic level.
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?
To look at a career as more of a journey that doesn’t have to be a straight path of just climbing the corporate ladder. It’s been fine to take detours along the way including trying new industries, new positions, moving to new places, working for myself, being in a start-up and even jumping off the ladder entirely for a time.
What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?
To not be afraid to be themselves and to stick to their values and principles. At the same time, not to ignore where they have weaknesses and see out advice, help or training that they need to fill those gaps.
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in women leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.