Leisa: Hi, I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson, and welcome to Women Mean Business where we’re going to chat with extraordinary women who are shattering glass ceilings every day, running companies, starting non-profits and changing the ways we navigate and view the world. My guest today is Casey Curry, Corporate Citizenship Director, it’s such a big title, for alliantgroup. Casey, welcome to Women Mean Business.
Casey: Thank you so much. I’m so excited you asked me to be here.
Leisa: Well, I am just glad to see you any time Casey. Tell us about alliantgroup.
Casey: Yeah, so alliantgroup is a professional services firm. And so that means that we do everything from offering our clients cybersecurity to specialty tax credits and incentives. And we often work with CPA firms to help them help their clients maximize those federal credits and incentives. And the one that we really are kind of known for, it’s kind of our right in our wheelhouse is the research and development tax credit. And I mentioned that because that really is core to what I do for the company. So, I’m not in research and development, I’m not researching or developing anything, but it means we have a lot of STEM folks of science, technology, engineering, math folks, all throughout our building that help companies work on their research and development credit studies. So, engineers speaks to engineer, scientists speaks to scientists, agriculture experts speaks to agricultural folks and can really maximize those credits so they can get back the money that Congress intended them to have.
Leisa: Wow, that’s fabulous. How old is the company?
Casey: So, it’s 18 years old, headquartered here in Houston, we’re now a global company I think like many companies are now, you know, you expand out. So, we’re in India and in the UK and we’ll see what happens next.
Leisa: What is the difference between an accounting firm and the alliantgroup?
Casey: So, the difference is, is that a group will work on those specialty pieces in the tax code, things that are just so complicated and so niche that maybe your accountant just doesn’t know about them, or know how to maximize them. So, most of our clients are actually CPA firms.
Leisa: Tell me about your role in the company. I know it’s exciting and kind of new.
Casey: It is super new. So, about three years ago, our CEO Dhaval Jadav knew that the thing that was really important to our business and to our clients is STEM. So science, technology, engineering, and math. So, we decided when we looked at our corporate citizenship and what we’re going to do in the community that we would try to address that need. So, most of what we do is really trying to get that next engineer, that next scientist to come up through the pipeline and go to work for one of our amazing companies in the US.
Leisa: That’s exciting and I know that, you know, that I’ve been involved with the women’s chamber for years, and they have a huge STEM initiative. But beyond that, like how are you doing this in the community? There’s so many different ways. Like, what are you working in with?
Casey: Can you tell I’m so excited? So, we start from the beginning to the end and everything in between. So, we work with the greater Houston women’s chamber of commerce. We are also a sponsor of Steamtown USA. Our school is Woodson elementary. They’re so great. I love Woodson so much. And so that’s great for us because we’re part of that curriculum, but then our own female scientists and engineers get to go and help mentor those girls, which is so great. It’s like full circle. So, we start from the earliest kids elementary school, and we’re work on programming there. Things like Steamtown, field trips to places like Space Center Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science for grades and schools that couldn’t afford field trips without us. They wouldn’t have the bus money, they couldn’t buy the tickets, they wouldn’t have lunch if we didn’t do that. And we provide these amazing chaperones volunteers that are our own science folks and engineering folks.
We also sponsor the Houston ISD elementary science teacher award, because it’s so important to have teachers that are inspiring this next group of innovators. And then we take it all the way through. So, we partnered with technical colleges here in Houston and around the country to make sure we’re addressing that technical skill need, which is also STEM. So, someone who wants to be skilled in robotics or welding, any of those things are also things that are our businesses need. And then all the way up to college scholarships. So, we have STEM scholarships that are totally, almost now a quarter of a million dollars every year.
Leisa: So, I know this was not your first career. And of course, most people who may be watching this episode many will recognize you. So, I want you to tell us how you got to your first career and then transitioned here.
Casey: I have just been the luckiest person. I’ve had two careers so far that I have just loved, excited to wake up every morning and be a part of, and my first career was as a broadcast meteorologists. So, I worked in TV news all around the country, right out of college, traveling the country covering weather and news stories all over the country.
Leisa: That’s how I met you.
Casey: Yes, that’s how we met. When you came on channel 13 in Houston, the ABC affiliate. So, that’s was just my amazing first career and learn so much really challenged me in ways I never could have imagined and met lifelong friends that way. I mean, these are people that, you know, are, are my closest friends, are the people that, you know, I always say kind of you know, you’re in the trenches with these folks, you think about big weather events and big news events. You know, you live at the TV station, you’re all in there together using porta-potties when the power goes out, you know, eating Kind bars because you know, that’s all you have. Kind bars are great, but not when that’s your only food source for a week. You know, sleeping on floors and you know, those things that people don’t see at home, but are so worth it and so rewarding because those are the times that you’re most needed by the public. I mean, it’s great to tell people about a sunny day, but it’s really important when you can give them life saving information.
Leisa: Absolutely. I know you left channel 13, how many years ago?
Casey: Three years ago, four years ago.
Leisa: And then you didn’t really leave TV then?
Casey: No, I freelanced after that for different stations and I continue. I’m so lucky. I continue to get asked to fill in for folks when they’re on vacation, it’s really the best of both worlds.
Leisa: I love it. So you still do that?
Casey: I still do. And also the great part is now I get to coach people that I work with to be comfortable in front of the camera to do camera work. I get to travel with some of our scholarship winners. When they’re interviewed by their local hometown TV stations, I get to go and be there with them.
Leisa: So, how did alliantgroup find you?
Casey: I always say it’s all about the network of people that you know, and that’s how it happened for me. It was through charity friends that, you know, non-profit friends of my who were recruiting for the job and happened to talk to someone else when they mentioned, “hey I’m looking for this perfect person.” And they both decided that it might be me and it was. I’m so grateful, like to this day, so grateful that someone thought of me for something I’d never done before to lead up a department to create community outreach for a global company is just…
Leisa: So, with all the diversity of your career and the excitement and the last year being a pandemic, how did you navigate through the pandemic work? I know you’re a mom, family. How did you handle all of that?
Casey: It was really scary in the beginning. I think a lot of people felt the same way that I did. You know, you didn’t know, you know, it’s the economy going to collapse, am I going to have a job, am I going to get sick, is someone in my family going to get sick, you have all those immediate fears. But I went into it really as an opportunity. And it was an opportunity to spend more time with my family. I was at home like all of us, but I was so grateful to get up in the morning and have breakfast with Winnie, she’s seven right now. And I’m not going to get that time back or have lunch with my husband when we both take a break, sit outside with my dog. You know, these are things I would never have been able to do on a Monday at two o’clock before.
Leisa: What advice do you have for someone who wants to achieve the success you’ve achieved? Because it’s more than just career success, it’s happiness, it’s a well-rounded life. So, what do we do to get there?
Casey: I think the most important thing is to find amazing people to surround yourself with. And I don’t mean just go find them, but I mean, maintain those relationships once you find them. Invest back in your friends, your colleagues that you know are operating at this excellence level and are truly good people. Invest in them, you know, make sure you’re staying connected. It’s so hard in our world right now. We’re all so busy. We have families, we have careers. So many of us have elderly parents that, you know, we’re this whole split generation and we’re caring for our own kids and our parents too. It’s hard, but you have to maintain those relationships. And then not just maintain those look for the next, you know, I always say that next person, you know, you see them, it’s a college student you were introduced to, someone young at work, maybe even to someone new, but you’ve noticed that thing in them, you know, bring them into the fold because the more that you give back to someone else, the more fulfilled you are, at least for me I am.
Leisa: Thank you very much. Thanks for being here.
Casey: Thank you.
Leisa: You’ve been tuned into Women Mean Business. I’m your host, Leisa Holland-Nelson. And we’ll be back again soon.
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