Not many business leaders in Montgomery County grew up in the county and worked there exclusively for more than three decades.
Lisa J. Cines, managing partner of the Rockville office of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, fits that bill. She never really had a desire to work elsewhere, she said.
“This is a wonderful business community,” said Cines, 52. “It’s fairly recession proof, and there are great opportunities here.”
Cines is also fairly unusual these days in having not changed companies much in a little more than 30 years.
She landed a job at Aronson LLC in Rockville in 1982, shortly after graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Maryland. She became one of the few female managing partners of an accounting firm that was ranked in the top 50 nationally.
Following almost 29 years there, she joined Dixon Hughes Goodman in 2011.
Along the way, Cines has become quite involved in numerous professional and business groups, including as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Board of Examiners, which oversees the industry’s CPA process, and a Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce board member and small business vice chair.
“Lisa has attained national recognition as a leader in her field,” said Gigi Godwin, president and CEO of the Montgomery chamber. “As a result, she is able to help the chamber shape its programming and strategic growth to serve our members. ... As vice chairman of the chamber’s Small Business Committee, Lisa provides valuable insight on how our companies need to adapt in order to meet the challenges on the horizon and turn them into opportunities.”
At Rockville Economic Development Inc., Cines is a board member and chairs the Maryland Women’s Business Center, an initiative REDI began a few years ago. She provides a valuable perspective from a larger local employer, and as an accountant, lends feedback on how local businesses are doing, said Laurie Boyer, executive director of REDI.
“She has also provided assistance as a mentor for start-up businesses, and is always willing to make connections that would be of benefit to us for projects or initiatives,” Boyer said.
Balancing the time needed to volunteer with such organizations along with her work and family can be challenging, Cines said.
“But you should be passionate about your life’s work and find the time to be involved in activities that can make a difference,” she said. “You do have to constantly evaluate that you are doing the right things with what time you have.”
The work with the chamber and other organizations keeps Cines informed on not only what is going on in the business community, but lends insight on important trends, she said. A recent presentation by economist Stephen Fuller before Montgomery County chamber leaders brought home how much more is needed to do to help private employers add jobs, she said.
“Maryland needs to be more flexible, especially regarding its regulations,” Cines said. “Those regulations are generally more stringent than neighboring states. We need to be doing better in attracting companies here.”
She was glad to see Choice Hotels International staying in the county and planning to move later this year into a new 198,000-square-foot headquarters right by her office in downtown Rockville. County officials say eventually there will be new housing developments, a 140-room Cambria Suites hotel and 40,000 square feet of retail in that area.
Growing up in Silver Spring, Cines graduated from Kennedy High School before attending the University of Maryland. She said she was drawn to accounting as a field that would “give me flexibility” and got involved with the equivalent of an accounting club at the College Park campus. The club linked students with employers; Cines matched up with Aronson that way.
Some people think of accountants as doing somewhat dry, even dull, work, unless they want them to find more tax deductions before the mid-April deadline or face an IRS audit. Cines admitted she didn’t really expect to work in the field so long, but has learned it is anything but dull.
“We work with so many different businesses and clients,” she said. “Helping our clients build their businesses is anything but dull and dry.”
Her husband, Larry, also is a Terp, as are some siblings. Cines returns to the campus to speak with students on issues such as getting their CPA certification, and has been on the University of Maryland Accounting Department’s advisory board.
Aronson provided her with good career opportunities. Before she became a managing partner, she worked at the firm with a lot of midmarket federal government contractors on auditing and tax matters.
At Dixon Hughes Goodman, Cines is focused on increasing company market share in areas that include real estate, government, nonprofits, technology and health care. With more clients doing business with other countries, Dixon has a growing international segment, as well as a strong banking presence, she said.
The Rockville office has 85 employees, with another 165 in Tysons Corner, Va. Overall, Dixon has more than 1,700 employees in 11 states.
Cines worked through the changes of the post-Enron years, when the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act altered the landscape of reporting requirements for most public companies and some private ones. That time was an important eye-opener for the profession, she said.
“SOX changed the industry drastically,” Cines said. “The rules didn’t change as drastically for small to middle-market companies, which is what [Aronson and Dixon Hughes Goodman] focus on. But we all had to make some changes.”