As part of our series, CRE Future Leaders, we caught up with Caroline Linton, a tax manager with Shepard Schwartz & Harris LLP. She provides planning and strategic guidance to her clients with a focus on partnership tax law, real estate transactions, tax planning for real estate investors and tax-deferred exchanges and cost segregation studies.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Highland Park, Illinois and went to college at the University of Arizona. My master’s degree was at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
An architect. I like to think this is why I love the real estate industry. If I can’t design the building, I want to be around people who design, build and own it.
How did you get your start in the industry?
The public accounting industry was initially because I enjoyed my accounting classes in college and found a job in a regional CPA firm in San Francisco. The real estate industry was because I went to work for a client who had started a real estate fund and needed a CFO. The experience at the fund taught me that I’m better equipped in public accounting versus private CFO work, but it started my love of the real estate industry so when I went back to a CPA firm, I focused on real estate clients and their owners.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Luckily, I’ve had both. There were two partners (Larry Wood and Dan Heller) in the San Francisco firm that developed and supported me during my 13 years in San Francisco. I’m still very close to both of them after leaving San Francisco. Currently, my mentor is Mary Fuller. Not only did we sit on the CREW Chicago board of directors together (her as president, me as her treasurer), I went to work for her CPA firm (she is the co-managing partner) in December of 2017. So she’s now doing double duty as my boss and my mentor.
What does a day in the life of Caroline Linton look like?
Ha, nothing early in the morning. What I like about my job as a CPA, is no one day is like another. Normal is getting tax returns reviewed and finished (tax season especially) but financial services and tax planning is constantly changing and so do the requests from my clients. When I’m not managing my client relationships, I am an active board member to CREW Chicago and recently the Junior League of Chicago.
What do you like most about your job?
Taking the guess work out of taxes and financial reporting for my clients. I want them to spend time doing what they are passionate about and less time worrying about their cash flows, taxes and filing requirements. I like de-mystifying the tax law and helping my clients build successful businesses and accumulate personal financial goals for themselves and their family.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
To become a partner in a CPA firm. It’s something that I have worked towards since my early years in the accounting industry. The idea of being the owner of a business is an important goal for me.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
When I’m not reading real estate blogs, I’m so intrigued with the restaurant industry. I joke that I moved to Fulton Market just so I can be closer to a fabulous restaurant neighborhood. I’m out trying new places all the time and always looking for the next great culinary experience. Basically my hobby is food. Oh, and I’m a huge sports fan. I’m always up for a Cubs game or to watch a golf tournament. I’ve been learning a lot about hockey now that I’m back in Chicago so count me in for a Blackhawks game.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
I just got back from Poland and Budapest. Both were incredible places to visit. I definitely have Greece on a very short “to-do” list but I’d also like to take my mom to the French Open tennis tournament in Paris next spring.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Bond Companies has a vice president of accounting, Anna Plewa, and controller, Victoria Rommer, who would both make great candidates.