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Petersen is still right at home after career change

Thu, Nov 1, 2012

One on One

Mike Petersen works at Stockman, Kast, Ryan + Co., LLP as a senior tax consultant.

Despite the term “senior” in his title, the 36-year-old Petersen is new at accounting, and that’s because this is his second career, both of which began here in Colorado Springs. He worked for 10 years in insurance at USAA before changing fields.

Petersen has been a Springs resident for most of his life, and while he has a taste for the arts and enjoys international travel, he’s staying planted, and growing, here in the Springs.

What led you to Colorado Springs and why have you stayed?

I am originally from Omaha, Nebraska, however my parents moved to Colorado Springs when I was still very young so I have pretty much lived all of my life here. I love Colorado Springs for many reasons. First, it is beautiful here. I also love the weather, specifically the fact that we experience all four seasons. Most of my family and friends are here. Most of my wife’s family and friends are here as well.

How has your career path unfolded?

This is my second career. I worked in insurance for 10 years at USAA prior to making the transition to public accounting. After 10 years, I reached a crossroads and had to ask myself whether I could see myself doing it for another 10 years. While USAA was a wonderful company to work for and I loved the people I worked with, I simply found myself unable to answer “yes” to that question.

I graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, I spoke to one of my accounting professors whom I’ve always admired and respected, Dr. Paul Miller, and he helped me arrive at the conclusion that I would enjoy a new career in public accounting. As crazy as it might sound to “enjoy” tax work, it turns out he was right. Beyond the number crunching, I enjoy getting to know the people behind the business, their goals and their fears. I enjoy the diversity of our clients and the chance to deal with the challenge of constantly changing tax law and regulations. I have been with Stockman Kast Ryan + Co., LLP now for almost four years and have enjoyed it immensely. To be given the opportunity to be mentored by people like Tax Partner Eric Ryan is one that I am truly grateful for and sincerely appreciate.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

Tax season, 70-hour workweeks and dinners at the office with my colleagues become the norm. I said that I love the people I work with, but not that much! I’m only joking, of course. To get through that time of year, I just do my best to keep a positive attitude. If there is any life lesson that I learned from my dad, it is the power of positivity. He served in the Army and was wounded in Vietnam when he was walking point and stepped on a land mine. He lost both of his legs and was blinded in both eyes from the shrapnel. He was only 20 years old. In spite of his disability, though, he has always stayed positive. He’s never let it get him down. I always remember that and try to keep things in perspective.

What is the most rewarding part about your job?

Tax season. Beyond the challenges, it also gives me the opportunity to work more closely with our clients and see the results of our planning efforts throughout the year. Our clients don’t just come to us for our services. They come to us because they want someone to look at the big picture — their company or personal goals. What are they doing right? What’s not working? How can they progress? It is through our big-picture approach that we can help answer those questions. I’ve met so many new and interesting people in this business and I love that. I’m also given the opportunity on many occasions to promote our firm at various community events, including recruiting events, economic forums and charitable fundraisers and that is always exciting as I love getting involved in our community.

If you could change one thing about Colorado Springs, what would it be?

I feel like I travel to Denver too many times when it comes to performances, such as the Buell Theatre often hosts. I also love the many museums that Denver has to offer. The Fine Arts Center does a fantastic job of bringing the Arts to Colorado Springs; my only wish is that there were more opportunities for the Arts locally.

When you’re not working, one is likely to find you…?

If it’s a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m either working out at the Flying Horse Athletic Club or studying, as I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Taxation program at the University of Denver. Thursdays I’m usually socializing with friends at the El Paso Club as I am a member there. On the weekends, I could be embarrassing myself on the golf course, having dinner with friends, on a date with my wife or just hanging out at home watching the Denver Broncos game. I also enjoy traveling. I have been to France, England, Italy, Hawaii, among other interesting places. Most recently, my wife and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary on the island of Maui.

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