Uncorking a CPA career: Conrad Davis' balanced career began in the vineyard.

Author:Taylor, Dennis
 
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Imagine a Career that began in the Lush vineyards of Northern California and veered, well, "Sideways" in to a successful railing in forensic accounting. No, this isn't some quirky Hollywood movie. It's the very real course that Conrad Davis. CalCPA's 2010-11 chair, is charting as he becomes a go-to guy to unravel the complexities of accounting investigations.

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For a while in the mid-1980s, Davis' path could have gone any number of directions. Entering the University of California, Davis, as a pre-med student, his interests were layered, ranging from helping an orphanage in Kenya and later onto the seat of a tractor in Clarksburg. Each diverse experience was a life lesson that helped shape his professional and ethical being.

Economics had always fascinated him, even when, as a freshman at Davis, he eyed medicine as a career. His interest in studying biology and economics evolved into plain science and business management

He earned his undergraduate degree in 1987 in agriculture science and business management. It would be the first leg of an eclectic journey toward accounting. Hut first, he had a stop to make on another continent.

Into Africa

Davis' faith has always played an important role in his life. His grandfather had been a Presbyterian pastor and Davis himself has served as treasurer of his Presbyterian church in Sacramento.

A big grin crossed his face recently as he sat in his office at the CPA firm of Ueltzen & Company in Sacramento, where he is now a partner. He thinks it's funny that as soon as any organization he volunteers with finds out he's a CPA, he gets shuffled toward the treasurer role, or in the case of his church, chair of the finance committee.

It was during his senior year in college that he began his most memorable application of his faith. Through the Africa Inland Church, an offshoot of the original Africa Inland Mission that was founded in the late 1800s, Davis traveled to Kenya to help construct a workshop at a rural orphanage. There he gained valuable insight into the simple joys of life.

"We spent lime in the hush, sleeping under thatched roofs." Davis recalls. "I would watch these people live lull, happy lives without a care, and they always seemed at peace."

Lavoro della Vite

After returning from Africa, Davis was hired as a vineyard manager at J. Lohr Winery to begin his "labor of the vine." Contrary to many images of vineyard managers in pressed slacks and dress shins sipping a varietal out of an oak barrel, real vineyard managers look more like farmers. Davis would drive tractors, fix equipment and process his product. He had dirt and grease on his hands. But the work was often peaceful and serene.

"Some of the happiest moments I've had were, driving the tractor in the vineyards." Davis says. "You can watch the seasons pass by watching...

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