Tamar Serna: Breaking the Corporate Mold

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Tamar Serna breaks the mold of everything you think of when you imagine a corporate accountant. And maybe that’s a good thing.

I grew up listening to the Cramps, Skinny Puppy, Butthole Surfers, and drinking beer outside "Rocky Horror Picture Show" on University Avenue in Palo Alto. I did drugs, was arrested and ended up homeless. Thankfully, all that is long behind me, but being a punk rocker with a shady past is still part of who I am.

Through hard work and wild twists of fate, I now lead the worldwide accounting function for a foreign currency software company. When I was a little girl, I never dreamt of booking journal entries and working with auditors. It seemed antithetical to my life.

Many imagine a corporate accountant as a man in a business suit, a woman in a pencil skirt with a blazer, even here in Silicon Valley with it’s casual stereotypes. If you don’t fit the corporate mold there is a good chance you are not taken seriously.

In my case, it has resulted in job rejections, missed opportunities and sometimes contempt. I may have visible tattoos, but I am a badass accountant with a personal history that taught me the value of hard work, investing in myself and others, humility, thinking outside of the box and being tenacious as hell. My untraditional experience has added perspective and value to a corporate environment that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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I’m fortunate that I’m at a point in my career that I can be authentic about these experiences, but I know many others aren’t. Alcohol, drugs and homelessness often and unfairly define someone, rather than being a small part of what’s being offered. It takes guts and ownership for anyone with such a past to apply for a corporate position, and it demonstrates the growth mindset that managers often look for. I believe “unsavory” experiences build character that most colleges cannot offer, and these experiences can be reframed to include the value they bring. Potential is about the future, not past history or alternative looks.

Not everyone fits the mold, but maybe it’s time the corporate mold was broken.

With Doc Martens, safety pins and a Perspective, I’m Tamar Serna.

Tamar Serna is a mosh-pitting corporate accountant, born and raised in the South Bay.