Chief of Staff – Hoosier Lottery
5:30 a.m.: I wake up early to allow myself some quiet time before the rest of the household starts their day. I make a cup of coffee and read. I put ingredients for soup in the crockpot. I like prepping dinner in the morning, as our evenings become so busy. It’s wonderful to walk into the house at the end of the day and have dinner nearly ready to eat.
6:30 a.m.: I make breakfast for my kids (today it’s a Toaster Strudel) and pack their lunches as they eat, so we can start the day together. I enjoy our mornings together, knowing that soon enough they will leave the nest.
7:30 a.m.: Leave for work, with a second cup of coffee in a travel mug. I listen to satellite radio on my way and catch up on phone calls.
8:30 a.m.: Arrive at the office. It’s a long drive from Fishers to downtown Indianapolis in the mornings! After freshening up my coffee, I pull out my notebook and review my “to do” list. I update it each week with tasks that need to be addressed or completed. I’m a huge list-maker—I have a work notebook and a home notebook, full of lists.
"Possessing a CPA allows a ‘foot in the door’ and can lead to a path that involves functions outside of finance and accounting."
Weekly staff meeting with our executive director and other executive staff. During our weekly meetings we provide various project updates, departmental happenings and discuss regular meetings with other staff. Currently we are preparing for our commission meeting so we discuss topics and administrative issues related to the meeting of our five gubernatorial-appointed Commissioners. I present the financial report which covers year-to-date revenues, expenses and transfers to the State of Indiana. The Hoosier Lottery’s mission is to return maximum net income to the state in a socially responsible manner. We provided in excess of $300 million to the State in fiscal year 2018. These funds go towards the Teachers’ Retirement Fund ($30 million annually), local police and firefighters’ pensions ($30 million annually) and the Build Indiana Fund.
Meet with IT staff to address questions from our auditor related to access control and integration of systems. The Hoosier Lottery undergoes multiple audits each year (financial audit, internal audits, State Board of Accounts audit) and a statutorily-required security audit every other year. I’m responsible for preparing a risk assessment on the Lottery each year, which is used to develop our annual audit plan. It determines the areas that will undergo a full, operational audit each year, based on various factors including turnover, financial statement impact, system changes, complexity, etc.
Spend time at my desk reviewing the week’s batch of checks and sign those that require my signature—only after grabbing another cup of coffee!
I’ve packed my lunch today, so I eat at my desk as I catch up on emails and skim through an industry magazine. I’m interested in seeing tickets offered by other lotteries and how they are selling. This issue also includes information on advertising awards presented to lotteries for Scratch-off and Draw game ticket ads, as well as responsible gaming advertising. One campaign, in particular, appeals to me, so I make a note to discuss it in a future meeting.
Meet with a direct-report to review 2018 goals. Performance reviews will be due before too long, and it’s important to me to be aware of how employees are proceeding in meeting goals set for the year. I have regular meetings with my employees so I know what they are working on and any issues that are encountered, but it’s helpful to hold the conversation with the goals in mind.
Attend advance reporting meeting to review the marketing plan for a family of Scratch-off games to be launched in February. As part of our integrated services agreement, the Lottery is provided with planned campaign elements and how the campaign will be supported. This campaign plans television and radio ads, so we are presented with storyboards. We also see plans for billboards, digital media and retailer point of sale. We are given the opportunity to ask questions, and make sure we understand the goals of the campaign and how these goals will ensure we meet the budget for these Scratch-off tickets.
Time back in my office, and I use this chance to review game rules. We launch new Scratch-off tickets on the first Tuesday of every month. Each game has a unique set of rules providing for manner of play, odds, ticket quantities and payout percentage. I’ve already reviewed and approved odds prior to printing of the tickets. I pull out my calculations to ensure the printed odds and payouts agree to what was approved. I play each game to make sure I know how it works, and to make sure the method of play is accurately explained in the rules. I return each set of rules to the marketing department. The signed rules will be posted on the website so players can view them.
Respond to a questionnaire received from NASPL (National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries). NASPL is a primary trade association for lotteries in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Currently 44 of 50 states have lotteries. One function of NASPL is to send questionnaires to gather information from member lotteries. One beauty of the lottery industry is the ability to share information. We generally don’t compete with one another, as each lottery can sell its products only within its state’s borders. These questionnaires provide beneficial information on best practices and lend helpful ideas.
Visit the Security Office at Lottery headquarters. We are conducting a Second Chance Drawing today, related to $1 and $2 Scratch-off tickets. Players who purchase $1 and $2 Scratch-off tickets, who turn out to be non-winners, can enter them into a Second Chance Drawing through the Hoosier Lottery app or website. This drawing will award 10 players with $100 and 10 players with $500. I’m only checking on the status of the drawing today—which is under control! Every drawing conducted by the Hoosier Lottery is under camera and in the presence of a third-party auditor. Our security department has developed procedures to ensure the automated drawing machines used for each Draw game drawing conducted by the Hoosier Lottery (with the exception of Daily 3 and Daily 4, which are drawn on ball machines and air on Fox 59 and affiliates throughout the State) cannot be opened by a single person, but require the presence of both a member of the security department and the third-party auditor.
Swing by a colleague’s desk to discuss an upcoming volunteer opportunity at Gleaner’s Food Pantry. I, along with other co-workers, have signed up to spend the morning volunteering there. It’s important to me to give back to the community—a notion I try to instill in my children, as well.
"By starting my career in public accounting, [I was able to] narrow down my interest and it led me to my current position at the Hoosier Lottery."
Time for our monthly governance meeting. As part of the Integrated Services Agreement, our provider holds monthly meetings to update Lottery staff on the progress made against the annual business plan. We discuss financial information through the previous month, including the results of specific games in the market and how we plan to meet our budget for the year. We are also presented with responsible gaming initiatives, product calendars, certain inquiries, public relations outreaches, sponsorship updates and other relevant information. This is a time for included Lottery staff to ask questions, as part of our oversight role. Due to the recent $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot, and the corresponding $687 million Powerball jackpot, our revenues are ahead of budget!
.: Bi-weekly meeting with the Lottery’s controller to discuss projects and updates. We have finally wrapped up our financial audit (we have a June 30 year-end) and are ready to tackle some outstanding items. The accounting department wires funds to winners, issues W-2Gs to winners, collects sales proceeds from retailers, along with performing reconciliations, monitoring budgets, preparing monthly financial statements, and cutting operational checks. Before we know it, we will be planning for the 2019 Indiana State Fair, which is the Hoosier Lottery’s largest-reaching sponsorship. It’s a huge outreach, requiring dozens of staff each day—including accounting staff who will provide cash to sellers, balance daily sales, prepare bank deposits and distribute tickets.
: Quick check-in with my boss, the Lottery’s executive director, to follow up on an open question arising from a meeting that occurred yesterday. We generally operate under an “open door” policy—despite all of the scheduled meetings! She is in her office, so I spend time catching up on things, and discussing the upcoming Legal & Ethics Conference at the Indiana Government Center. All Lottery employees are required to take ethics training every two years, consistent with all State employees. Ethics, security and integrity are at the heart of all we do at the Lottery.
: Return to my office to go through emails, and ensure I’ve responded to all critical items. I mark those that can wait until tomorrow, and block out time on my calendar to return a few phone calls in the morning.
: Pack up for the day and leave the office for home. Text my husband, Ian, to let him know I'm leaving downtown. He will start rolls and vegetables to go with the soup I put in the crockpot this morning.
: I made it home in pretty good time! Dinner is nearly ready, so I call the kids down to help set the table and pour drinks. It’s a good night when we can sit down for a family dinner. Luckily, it’s off-season for soccer, so each kid only practices once per week. When spring comes, we may have a practice every night of the week. I love sitting down together, talking about each person’s day. There is homework to do and chores to finish, but for 30 minutes we shut it down and spend time as a family.
: Change into comfy clothes and leave with my daughter, Libby, to drop her off at Hamilton Southeastern Young Life. It’s a highlight of her week, so my husband and I make it a priority to get her there—even though it’s hard to leave the house once we’ve arrived there! Luckily, I got drop-off duty and Ian has agreed to pick her up at 9 p.m.
: Back home, and my son Jay wants me to look at his board for the seventh grade science fair. He’s done the whole project himself, with no assistance from us, and I’m really proud of the result.
: Ian is ready to sit down and watch the Pacers game. I join him on the couch and we discuss our progress on our basement project—we are in the final stages of making it a finished basement.
: The kids get ready for bed. I still like to say “goodnight” even though they are getting older. I get myself ready for bed and pull out my Kindle to read for a while.
: My eyes are getting heavy, so I put my phone and Kindle on their chargers and turn out the light. I fall asleep quickly. I need to be refreshed for tomorrow!
STROUD'S TIP FOR STUDENTS CONSIDERING THE PROFESSION/BECOMING A CPA
I have never regretted my decision to major in accounting and become a CPA. It was the perfect way to become familiar with various industries. By starting my career in public accounting, I audited manufacturing companies, high-tech firms, hospitals, insurance companies, governmental units and others. It allowed me to narrow down my interest and led me to my current position at the Hoosier Lottery, which is a lot of fun! Possessing a CPA allows a “foot in the door” and can lead to a path that involves functions outside of finance and accounting.
STROUD'S TIP FOR YOUNG PROS WANTING TO ADVANCE IN THE PROFESSION
I would recommend studying for and pursuing a CPA as soon as possible, following school. It’s amazing how much more difficult it becomes as you get further away from the habit of studying. Work hard and ask a lot of questions. I felt I needed to know everything when I started working, so my employer wouldn’t question why they made the decision to hire me. You are not expected to know everything. Ask questions and show a willingness to learn.
ALMA MATER: Miami University (Oxford, OH), B.S. in Accounting.
COMPANY SIZE: 55 direct employees (plus an additional 200 under an Integrated Services Agreement with a private contractor)
JOB DESCRIPTION: As chief of staff of the Hoosier Lottery, I oversee the accounting, IT and security departments.
PREVIOUS POSITIONS: Prior to my 12+ years with the Lottery, I was in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand/PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Crowe Horwath and Somerset CPAs.
WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK
FAMILY: Married to husband Ian for 20 years, daughter Libby (15) and son Jay (12)
PETS: Laila (9-year-old Mastiff)
HOBBIES: Home improvement projects, watching my kids play soccer, reading (I just finished “All the Missing Girls” which I really enjoyed), family activities and vacations. My goal for 2018 was to walk one 5k each month (and I completed all 12!).