When Accounting Manager Mae Sung heard that she was being honored as Employee of the Quarter for her exceptional work , she reacted with astonishment.
“It was very surprising to me because I just felt I was doing my job,” she confessed. “And I was amazed at how my team all came to support me. I definitely can be hard on them sometimes because I hold them to such high standards. But I also hold myself to those same standards and never ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”
Mae’s management style is to lead by example. She never balks at taking on any job, large or small, because she views it as an opportunity to learn. Her energy, positive attitude and willingness to chip in wherever needed inspire her team to do the same. Everyone is encouraged to cross-train to gain a better understanding of each other’s jobs.
From left to right: Omnitrans CEO and GM P. Scott Graham, Employee of the Quarter Mae Sung, Board Chair Allan Wapner and Finance Director Donald Walker
“We are more than a good working team,” she points out. ”We are like family. We work well together and all of us genuinely care about each other. Every single one of us has a specific skill that contributes to the whole. If any part is missing we cannot complete our work. We understand this and respect each person for their contribution.”
Mae believes that open communication is the key to the department’s success.
“Wednesday mornings we have our staff meeting, and free speech is always encouraged. We talk about business and sometimes we’re all in agreement and sometimes we disagree. But we discuss what’s going on and let them know what is expected by the company, by each department, our boss, a board member, whatever the case may be. In the end, we all have a clear understanding of our goals and how we will attain them.”
Mae proudly poses with members of the finance team
Often the biggest challenge Mae faces has to do with gathering the information she needs from the various departments.
“Not everyone understands finance and accounting, so sometimes I have to nudge other departments into cooperating with us. We are held to tight deadlines that they don’t have. For example we have a deadline for payroll. We want to be sure everyone is paid accurately and in a timely manner. We have deadlines to pay vendors and have to collect invoices from each department in order to make payment. I don’t want to receive a phone call about a past due invoice. Sometimes I have to personally walk down to the departments to prompt them, but I think they understand that’s my job.”
In her private time, Mae enjoys music and travel. She has been to Japan, Taiwan, China and is looking forward to touring Europe. Most recently she had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Italy.
“I was looking forward to listening to some of the famous operas in Italy, but I was disappointed. It was too crowded and I didn’t have the time. But I did get to enjoy some of the live bands—such beautiful music and talented artists.”
Music has always been an important part of Mae’s life. Growing up she was trained in classical music and played piano.
”I don’t have time for it now, but I dream that later after my retirement I can do that again. There’s a deep joy that comes from playing the piano. That type of music is so soothing and brings you a quiet peace. I live in Corona and always set my radio to 91.5 FM the classical music station during the commute. I love it.”
Finance Director Donald Walker with Employee of the Year Mae Sung
Still, Mae can’t bring herself to don earphones in the office to listen to music. “I can’t do it,” she laughs. “It makes me feel cut off. I have to hear everything that’s going on outside the door. They might need me for something.”
Although Mae has worked at Omnitrans for more than 9 years, she is still passionate about what she does and it shows.
“I love my work because I like to give people a better understanding of their financial situation,” she explains. “Companywide, people spend but they don’t have the big picture. Our goal is to collect information from each department, analyze it, readjust it, classify it, and illustrate it with diagrams and beautiful pictures and compile it into a report. This way everyone is aware of how much we earn, how much we spend, and what’s in our future.”
Don and Mae share a laugh together. “She is such a pleasure to work with and is truly deserving of this award,” Don tells us.
In fact, since 2006 when Mae and her boss, Director of Finance Donald Walker, first joined Omnitrans, every annual comprehensive financial report they have put together has earned the agency top awards.
“Don and I work very well together. I feel so lucky to have such a nice boss. From the beginning, he has always given me room to grow. He’s not controlling like many other bosses but is very understanding. He gives me the space to go ahead and do whatever I think I should do and encourages me to expand this position into something more.”
The team teases Mae: “We celebrated your award at lunch without you. But the waitress sent her best wishes.”
Laughter and conversation erupt in the outer office as team members gather together to have a group photo made with Mae. She smiles.
“Omnitrans is a very nice company to work for,” she says. “There is room for people to grow and move up, and people are allowed to be themselves. I’m happy here, and I think all of our finance team is happy too.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson