November 19, 2012|
Partner, Assurance, Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP
By Samantha Ricketts
Allison Ballard loves a challenge. She has proven this by working hard to become a partner at Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, where she enjoys confronting and solving problems. “My profession has so much variety that I have challenges daily, some big and some small.” Charleston is lucky that this Illinois-native moved here when she was 10 and decided to return later in life to pursue a career in accounting.
Ballard left the Mountain State to go to college at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and later lived for several years in Washington, D.C., but she couldn’t stay away from West Virginia. “I wanted to live in a place where it didn’t take me an hour to drive 10 miles to work,” she says. “Besides, both my husband and I grew up in the area, and living in Charleston also meant we could both be close to family.” Ballard praises Charleston as a place with culture, art and shopping like a big city, but without all the chaos.
“West Virginia is a place where you feel a true sense of community and can really make a difference and get involved,” Ballard shares. She volunteers her time with several efforts to help children, including the Junior League of Charleston, Daymark, Inc. and the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council. Ballard’s passion for helping children stems from being a former girl scout, a problem solver and a mother of three, and she sees her interest in helping today’s youth as just one more challenge to conquer.
Ballard’s love of a challenge can also be seen in her hobbies. She once hiked through lava fields in Hawaii with her husband, and she enjoys running the many trails in West Virginia. In fact, her dream is to run a race in every state. “The original goal was to run a marathon in every state, but after training for one, I think I will leave that goal more general as it is not really something I’d like to do 50 times.”
Out of all these challenges, however, Ballard says the hardest is balancing her time among her family, her career, her hobbies and her volunteer work. “This is a challenge that I face every day, and while I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it, I think I manage it OK,” Ballard says. She attributes her success in this area to her support system, which includes her husband and her parents. “I believe the key is to communicate my time constraints, prioritize what is important and have realistic expectations of myself for what I can reasonably get accomplished.”
Ballard’s Dixon Hughes Goodman partners, Bob Simpson and Sandy Thomas, have also helped her in her life—by challenging her. “Bob always had a way of challenging me to figure out the answer for myself or would have a wonderful perspective on how to approach a difficult situation in a practical manner,” Ballard shares. “Sandy has mentored me in more ways than I could count, from advice on parenting and work-life balance to setting a wonderful example as a successful woman in a largely man-dominated field.” She explains that without them, she would not be where she is today. “I consider my greatest success thus far to be becoming a partner at an accounting firm the size of Dixon Hughes Goodman,” she says. “Not everyone accomplishes this goal in my profession, and I am honored that the other partners in the firm felt confidence in my skills and abilities to ask me to become an owner.”
Besides the generosity and support of her partners, Ballard attributes her success to hard work, dedication and teamwork. “I believe you need all three together to be effective and successful. Hard work brings the effort to get things done, dedication brings the willingness to get things done and teamwork brings together your resources to accomplish a common goal.”
Photography by Tracy Toler on location at Adventures On the Gorge