Rose Report: Issue 9
A Chat with Senior Controller Robert Michaels
Tell us about your role at Rose Financial Services.
I joined RFS in November of 2010, because I wanted to be part of an exciting, growing, dynamic company. I have a passion for using my skills to help clients achieve their missions, and that’s precisely what I get to do every day.
As a Division Leader and Senior Controller, I’m the direct liaison with many of the key decision makers of my clients. I provide CFO-level services for them, and I also manage two operations teams that handle across-the-board accounting functions for our clients. No two days at RFS are the same, much the same way no two client challenges are exactly the same. I love that this work keeps me engaged and on my toes.
What was your career trajectory before joining RFS?
Aside from a year right after college that I spent as an IRS auditor, before joining RFS, I had devoted my career to non-profit work. I held a variety of positions at the American Association for Justice—the national trade group for trial lawyers—including six years as the organization’s vice president of finance. My proudest achievement there was spearheading the back-office functions needed to launch a spin-off group called “Trial Lawyers Care” following the 9/11 attacks. We set up an office in Manhattan, where we helped victims of the attacks get the recompense they were owed by the federal government.
From there, I became Chief Financial Officer of the Optical Society of America, and then I landed here at RFS.
How does your prior experience help you at RFS?
All my years in the non-profit sector have really allowed me to empathize with—not only the non-profit clients at RFS—but our commercial and government contractor clients as well. I know first-hand the budgetary, and finance and accounting challenges that organizations across all sectors face.
RFS counts a number of educational institutions among its clients. What do you do for them?
We do a lot of great work for educational institutions at RFS. Lately, I’ve been focused on helping these clients with grant reporting. Specifically, I’m helping them accurately calculate their indirect rates, so they don’t short-change themselves when the time comes to get reimbursed by the government agencies providing the grants. We’ve had great success assisting institutions in this area. In fact, just recently, I was able to help an educational institution properly calculate their indirect rates, resulting in a significant increase in the rate the government will use to reimburse it. This client was struggling financially as a result of the incorrect reimbursement. It was very rewarding for me to help set things straight.
What else should we know about you?
I’m from Buffalo, New York, which means I’m a long-suffering fan of the Buffalo Bills. I went to Saint Bonaventure University in New York State, but moved to Maryland right after college. I live in Gaithersburg now, with my wife and daughter. We’re very active in our church, and I serve on the church council.