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On the Record with Rose: Julia Heflin

Brightspot employee Julia Heflin with her dog

Reuniting at Brightspot with several former colleagues, Julia Heflin's role as Controller involves daily, weekly and monthly financial tasks, auditing and forward-looking forecasting to help the business thrive and grow. Outside her day-to-day accounting and finance duties, Julia is a passionate equestrian and is deeply involved with Brightspot mission activities including volunteering at Holistic Horsemanship Services and during Special Olympics' events.

How long have you worked for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I started Brightspot a little over two years ago. I worked with David Bultema (Chief Financial Officer) and Tricia Preston (Accounting Manager) at a previous job and was super excited to have the opportunity to come work with them again, especially as David was taking on his new role as CFO. I’ve been working in finance for tech companies for about 10 years, so it was a really great opportunity for me to join a growing company.

Can you tell me more about your role in the finance department? What is a typical day like for you?
I don’t know that I have a typical day specifically. Accounting and finance are very cyclical, so we tend to have the same things happen every single month and annually. These are tasks like creating financial statements, filing our taxes and doing financial reporting for our investors. Some of the things I do every week are working on billing customers and collecting their payments, and reviewing and paying our vendors. My day-to-day is usually pretty different but month over month it is kind of the same cadence.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job here at Brightspot?
I would have to say the most challenging thing we do in finance in general is to predict the future. Part of our job is to forecast the results of the business, so we forecast cash, revenue and try to predict what’s going to happen to make sure that Brightspot has the resources and support it needs for the employees and for our customers.

Do you have any piece of advice for college students or those who are starting their careers in finance?
I think my best advice is that when you get into a company in a finance role, really take every opportunity you can to learn about the product and the operations of the company. I personally don’t understand coding, but I don’t have to understand coding to understand that our product and our platform is really cool. It’s good to learn about that stuff because it helps me do my job in the end. I think one of the things that we do as part of our annual audit is a review of the software development. This year I sat down with our auditors, Sarah Tarpley (VP, Operations Producing) and Matthew Wardian (Program Director), to look through all the cool new development stuff that the team had done over the past year and it was really great to see what the company has been doing and building.

What traits are most important to make you successful at your job?
I would have to say in accounting and finance that attention to detail is really important. Everything needs to be correct, balanced and accurate. Also, we need to be analytical thinkers and to think about what the financial results mean, and what information that we can give to Brightspot’s leadership team so they can make good decisions.

I know you’ve participated in a lot of different Brightspot mission activities during your time with the company. Do you have a mission project that has stood out to you as your favorite? Why did it stand out to you?
I have to say I’m a lifelong horse girl. My daughter’s a horse girl. We have a horse. With that said, getting to volunteer with Holistic Horsemanship Services and seeing the work that Executive Director Adrienne Freeland is doing out there with supporting veterans is really cool. I enjoyed spending time with the horses and the farm was beautiful. It was interesting to learn how that fits in with the work that Boulder Crest is doing to support veterans and their families as well. It was really cool to see how two of our mission opportunities support each other and I just had a good time on the farm.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
One of my favorite things is that our mission efforts are so important to the company. I enjoy that it’s supported by the management team and that we’re given opportunities to help in a lot of different ways. I’ve volunteered in support of Special Olympics, Boulder Crest, Holistic Horsemanship services and Aldrin Elementary School. I get to interact with and help out in the community in a lot of ways and I appreciate that opportunity immensely.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I am a crafty girl, I like to create things. I have a Cricut Machine. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s like a little robot that will cut out your graphic design projects for you. I make things like cups when we go on family vacations, bumper stickers for our cars, and I even made some special stuff for our whiteboard by the finance team in the Reston office.

What is one skill/hobby/knowledge set that you'd really like to learn?
I love music and I played piano when I was a little kid but didn’t really keep up with it. I’d love to get that skill back and I’d like to learn to play the guitar, too.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your free time?
If I’m going for a vacation, I love the mountains. I am not going to hike or ski or any of that, I just really like the views and the peacefulness of it. If it's free time where I'm staying at home, I just want to be snuggled up with my dog.

Rose Pleskow Brightspot employee
About the Author
Rose Pleskow has been working at Brightspot since 2011 as a content and quality assurance specialist. In addition to writing employee profiles, Rose has played a critical role on a variety of client projects with her keen eye for detail and Brightspot publishing expertise. She has contributed to the launch of various projects ranging from SpecialOlympics.org to Amazon Science and Healthgrades.


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