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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sharing Memories on Sunday - Urbandale Early Days


Sharing Memories on Sunday - Urbandale Early Days

In the last entry in this series, on May 13, we had just arrived in Urbandale from West Branch, on Halloween, 1969. Annette was 9, Allison was 5 and a half, Arrion was barely five weeks old. Nancy and I had just turned 30. My new job was with the new Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. Management Consulting firm.

Here is my work description that I included on my resume in later years: "Consulting engagements for various clients included design of complete accounting system for large-scale commercial egg-laying operation, operational review for wholesaler, personnel study including salary survey and 100 job description write-ups for major hospital." Great experiences. The down-side was that between these great consulting assignments, they would send me out on audits - I did not sign up to be an auditor/accountant for the CPA firm. I signed up to be a management consultant, but their marketing was inadequate to keep us in consulting jobs. When it came time for my six months review, I was expecting to be patted on the back for 'jobs well done' and given a raise. Instead, I was told: "We don't think you like working here anymore…" and was released with notice. Shocker. [Note: Within a year or two, they shut down the Des Moines consulting business and reverted back to doing that work out of the Chicago office, like they had done, before.]

Within a week or so, I had a new position (again, according to a later resume), just down the street from my consulting position: Special Project Assistant to the Vice-President (Operations Manager) Cowles Communications, Inc., LOOK Magazine Subscription Division, Cowles Marketing and Data Center, Des Moines, Iowa (Starting in June 1970). Job description: Revised internal accounting system to provide departmental responsibility cost reporting; reviewed monthly statements with responsible operating managers; assisted in budgeting and forecasting; reviewed operational procedures. [My blunt assessment when I arrived in this operation, based on my experiences as a GE Auditor and with Peat Marwick - this operation was fat, dumb and happy - totally unsustainable personnel and accounting practices. Every manager had two secretaries; no cost control whatsoever. They had been making money hand-over-fist for so long, they didn't seem to notice. But, times were changing. The operations manager, my boss, knew this, and asked me for help. I did what I could, as noted above.]

During this first year in Des Moines, I also resumed work on my Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA) at night school. I had taken 12 hours in Louisville, but only 6 were allowed to transfer to Drake University. In addition to the Master's level course requirements, I also took all of the undergraduate accounting course required to be eligible to sit for the Iowa CPA Exam. [I seemed to be the first to do this at Drake; now days, this is routinely done at many schools and called something like: MBA with an Accounting Concentration/Emphasis]. In addition, we became active in the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where I served on the Committee on Finance for two years. I became active in the Urbandale Lions Club. The first summer I became involved with the organization of the Urbandale Girls Softball League (Annette was eligible to play as a nine year old) and I served as a member of the Board of Directors, Secretary of the Board and Manager of a team (the first of 13 consecutive years). [In prior years, one guy had tried to run the summer program himself - he did a fine job, but as the program had grown, he knew he was over his head, and recommended the reorganization, about the time I arrived. I was pleased to become one of a half-dozen or so Dads to become totally immersed in the operation for a few years - I had three daughters, after all!]

To be continued…

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