Partner, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Charleston, 38
On her first paying job:
Ballard worked in a Charleston law firm.
"What I took away from that was clear communication and proper document management in business. I did also take away that I did not want to be a lawyer."
When Allison Ballard was younger, she took math and accounting and thought about pursuing a business degree.
But like most teenagers, Ballard worked a job that did not fit her career goals. The Charleston native's first job was as a receptionist at a downtown law firm, where she learned some key rules of the trade.
"What I took away from that was clear communication and proper document management in business," she said. "I did also take away that I did not want to be a lawyer."
A love for numbers and an understanding of accounting ultimately led her into that field. She received her degree in accounting from Washington and Lee University in Virginia before landing a job at an accounting firm in Washington, D.C. But she and her husband, Ken, didn't like the area, so they moved back to Charleston in 2002. Ballard began working with Simpson and Osborne, the predecessor to Dixon Hughes Goodman. She was made partner in 2009.
"Being promoted to partner in a public accounting firm is my biggest accomplishment," she said. "It's a very demanding job, and I think becoming an owner in the business is a very important step."
Ballard acknowledges that her professional life is demanding. But thanks to a strong support network, she is able to juggle handling accounting information for mid-sized businesses with her family life, which includes three children younger than 10. A teamwork approach helps her meet her goals both professionally and personally.
"As I have a pretty demanding job, my husband and also my parents, John and Linda Hull, are part of my crucial support network in ensuring balance between work and home life," she said. "We also have a very team-oriented approach at my firm, where everyone works together to help serve our clients needs and meet deadlines."
Ballard likes the variety her job provides and said every day she encounters something new.
"We provide services to businesses of all different types in West Virginia and other states. ... There's always some challenge. I like working with people where there's a lot of interaction — and helping businesses succeed."