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Leadership Columbus: Sara Jacobi

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Sara Jacobi

Born: Lafayette, Indiana

Age: 40

Education: Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Purdue University.

Occupation: Certified public accountant and director, which is the equivalent of a partner, at Blue & Co. CPAs/Advisors

Family: Husband Chris Jacobi, a cost accountant at NTN Driveshaft; daughter, Abigail, 10, and son, Drew, 7.

Hobbies: Right now my kids are pretty much my hobbies, and I also enjoy photography, but it’s mostly attending kids’ events. I am a huge Purdue fan, so cheering my Boilers on is a very big hobby of mine.

● Why and when did you move to Columbus?

When I was about 2 years old, my family moved to Brownstown, which is just south of here. So growing up in Brownstown and Jackson County, Columbus was never very far away. I officially moved here in 1997. I had recently graduated from Purdue and had taken the job with Blue & Co. in the Seymour office. Columbus just struck me as the right community to be in, and I did a lot of work up here; so it was convenient. It was a bigger community than I grew up in with plenty of things to do and relatively close to Indianapolis.

● What was your first job?

It was actually on my grandparents’ farm. They operated a roadside stand where they sold produce. I remember being there with my mom and my grandma and just sitting back and observing the customers come through and I loved being a part of that. I loved the whole experience.

● What primary lessons did you learn from that job that have helped you today?

The concept of selling things, I grasped pretty quickly. That’s what really got me interested in business and landed me in the accounting profession. As I got older, I had the opportunity to work directly with customers as they picked up loads of watermelons and cantaloupes. It became very clear to me how economics work and how the dollar changes hands and taught me the important of working hard, that things are not easy and they don’t always go the way you planned. It taught me you need to make sure that you are providing service and a positive experience to your customers.

● How did you develop your leadership capabilities?

I developed those capabilities by observing those ahead of me. Jim Lienhoop has been a fantastic example of leadership, and there are plenty of other people in the firm who have been examples to me. Everybody is different, and what works for them may not work exactly for me. But if I can take the things I’ve learned from them and adapt it to who I am, that’s probably what has helped me the most.

● What are some of the lessons you have learned or examples that demonstrate the level of community involvement in Columbus?

The community involvement that I have done has really served me well. It’s really helped me to own something and to really think things through from a variety of angles. The skills and lessons that I have learned have really translated well to my job here. My work with the United Way has really been an eye-opener for me. I get the opportunity to see, not only what the United Way is doing, but with these Community Investment Review Teams we get the opportunity to hear about the missions and the plans and the needs in the community. It’s been a great opportunity to become aware of what’s available in the community.

● What advice do you have for people who want to become more involved in the community?

I say, go do it. Find something that you care about and do be afraid to default to what you are trained to do. When I started in community service work, I was generally approached to be a treasurer because, by default that’s what CPAs are trained to do. But don’t feel like you have to go to the default position. Find something that maybe challenges you a little, but first and foremost, really pick the things that excite you. Don’t do it for the resume build. You will get far more out of it personally if you are following your heart, following your passion, rather than putting the right thing on your resume.

Community involvement:

I serve as director of the board of directors for kidscommons. I chair one of the United Way Community Investment Review Teams, and as part of that I sit on their Community Investment Committee. I also work with the Agency Development Committee, and we work with the member agencies to ensure that they have the resources that they need to manage the organization and carry out their mission. If there are areas that they need improvement or help, we work to get them the right resources. I’m part of the Collaboration through Coalition Leadership at Leadership Bartholomew County. I was also named the United Way Volunteer of the Year for 2014.

● You mentioned that you are a big Purdue fan.

We don’t make it to as many games as we used to because the kids are not quite to the age where that’s what they are interested in. We did take them to their first basketball game last winter, and that was a lot of fun. We try to get them on campus at least once a year to look around and start planting the idea of what a college campus looks like and that it would be great if they wanted to go to Purdue.

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