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Employee Spotlight: Lacey Armstrong

Posted 12:00 PM by

Lacey Armstrong, KSM's Learning & Development Manager, with her horse, Kenny

Lacey Armstrong knows a thing or two about pedigree. The ambitious California native is more than Katz, Sapper & Miller’s learning and development (L&D) manager. She is an accomplished equestrian. Lacey spends her weekdays providing leadership development support to KSM’s employees. She devotes her weekends to her nine-year-old horse, Kenny.

Lacey and Kenny recently competed in the American Paint Horse Association’s prestigious 2014 World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. Qualifying for the event is a highly challenging affair. It requires hard work, determination and commitment – the same level of dedication a company of KSM’s pedigree expects from the members of its team. The firm’s employees routinely deliver. Lacey and Kenny delivered, too. 

What was your course of study, and how did it prepare you for a career at KSM?

Lacey Armstrong, Katz, Sapper & Miller's Learning & Development Manager

I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from San Diego State University. I would have to say it prepared me in more ways than I can explain, but the most notable was it gave me the ability to work with various personalities. Psychology taught me how to evaluate and assess an individual’s self-understanding as well as the different learning methods we use to process information. I learned that each individual is unique and that no one person interprets information the same as the next.

What was the career path that led you to KSM? 

After I graduated, I worked in San Diego as a buyer doing purchasing for national theme parks. Within a few months of working there, I was tasked with training all of our new hires and helping them get assimilated. My passion for helping others learn and become better individuals both personally and professionally flourished from there. I have since held various positions, including: instructional designer; employee relations specialist; HR program manager; HR/organizational development (OD) specialist; and L&D Manager. I have always worked in the HR/OD space and could not imagine doing anything else. April 2015 will mark my three-year anniversary with KSM!

Describe what it means to be a learning and development manager? 

To me, being a L&D manager entails representing myself as a leader who takes responsibility for managing and navigating all facets of growth and development for the firm’s employees. I do this by focusing on, creating, developing, implementing and measuring solutions that build skills and competencies across all functions for the entire life cycle of the employee. It also means partnering with all levels within the organization to build credibility, obtain buy-in, and give and take feedback for improvement. 

What do you like best about your job? What is your typical day like?

The best part about my job is the people with whom I work and the variety of projects in which I am able to participate and oversee. While there are things that I do each day, there is always something new and exciting that I get to work on. A typical day for me would be filled with various meetings that have to do with existing projects or the development of new ones. In addition, I always have an open door to assist KSM staff or clients with any CPE, training question or need.  If, and when, there is a moment of down time, I am researching how we can remain one of the leading CPA firms in the L&D arena. 

What would you say is your biggest work-related challenge? 

My biggest work-related challenge would be combatting the desire to have everything come together at the same time. I have a tendency to get ahead of myself sometimes and will get so excited about a certain project that, like a little kid, I want it to come together right then, even if I know that is not realistic. I am not sure that is a work challenge. It might be more of a Lacey challenge!

How did you get involved in equestrian sports?

I grew up in Redlands, Calif. When my brother and I were 8 and 12, respectively, my mom decided she wanted to go back to work. I needed somewhere to go during summer break while she was away. There was a horse camp down the road in Yucaipa … and the rest is history!

What is your horse’s name? How did you find each other?

My horse is a Paint Horse breed, which is highly valued for its color and markings. (They’re smarter, too!) His registered name is “This Sheik Rocks,” but his barn name is Kenny. (He was named after the character in South Park. His stable mate’s name was Butters. True story!) My trainers, who live in Michigan, had Kenny as a yearling until he was three. They sold him to a mother and daughter who lived nearby. The daughter had shown him for years until she decided to go to nursing school and needed to sell him to help pay for her tuition. She reached out to my trainers to see if they were interested in purchasing him back. They had really enjoyed him as a young horse and thought we would make a perfect team. They were right! I went, tried him out and fell in love.

Describe the training regimen.  

The regimen can vary for each individual. For some, it may be riding every single day with multiple horses. For others, it may be riding their horse once a month if they live some distance away from their horse and/or trainers. I drive to Fennville, Mich., every Saturday morning to ride and train all day. Mondays through Fridays, my horse is ridden by my trainers: Garth, Sonnesa and Austin Gooding, who run Bauer & Gooding Show Horses. (I knew the Gooding’s as a youth.) Their program is very regimented. The horses get fed, exercised, blanketed, are under lights daily and shod every six weeks.

What does it take to get to the winner’s circle?

In order to make it to World Championship, you have to “show” at four events and under eight different judges within a prescribed period of time. It requires extreme amounts of patience, hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears. Most importantly, in order to experience success, there has to be a good relationship between the rider and the horse. They have to understand each other’s cue and signals. They have to be a team.

Talk about your Career/Life/Balance.

Riding is my passion, but it also makes me better at my job. Everyone at KSM has always been enormously supportive of my riding. People are always expressing an interest and saying they are proud of me for chasing my dream. In practical terms, the firm’s generous PTO policy helped make the trip to APHA World Championship possible.

What are your personal goals? 

Professionally speaking, I want to continue to grow as a learning leader and aid KSM in the development of relevant coursework and professional development opportunities. I also plan to obtain my CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance).

Personally speaking, my goal is to win an APHA World Championship! I have been reserve world champion three times, and we showed in five different classes. We were third overall at this year’s World’s, but we are always looking to improve. Our goal is to be the best.

About Katz, Sapper & Miller
KSM is a nationally recognized consulting, tax, and audit firm. Through our deep experience across multiple disciplines and industries, we leverage emerging technologies, combined with our people’s differing perspectives, ingenuity, and creativity, to help our clients solve their most difficult challenges.


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