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Patti Tripp: ‘I want to continue to learn new things that will help me to keep advancing my career.’

By Hilary Reeves

If there was anything constant about the early years of Patti Tripp’s career, it’s that she was constantly on the move.

Tripp, now Assistant Controller at Tropical Shipping, was born and raised in “the southeast corner” of Colorado, near the state’s border with Oklahoma, where she attended college.

“It was far enough to enjoy college but close enough that I could come home if I got homesick,” she laughed. “I wanted to be a veterinarian, but there were a lot of chemistry classes required, and I was terrible. So I thought, ‘what else can I do?’ I settled on accounting because everyone needs an accountant.”

Tripp met her then-husband in college; the couple married in 1992. She received her undergraduate degree four years later and moved from Oklahoma to Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and eldest daughter in tow to start her career at a Federal credit union.

“It wasn’t a very high-paying first accounting job, but it gave me valuable experience to start my accounting career, and Tallahassee was a nice little city to live in,” she said.

The family stayed for five years before moving back to Colorado and welcoming a second daughter into the fold. Then it was off to Chicago.

“I worked in Chicago as a financial analyst for IBM for a couple of years; IBM was exciting and fast-paced, adding big corporate experience to the resume,” she said. “But having young children, I needed to be closer to home, so I took a job as a senior accountant for a commercial cleaning company specializing in cleaning and elevator services for commercial high-rise buildings.”

Tripp worked in Chicago for seven years, earning her master’s degree in 2003, before moving back to Florida in 2004.

“Honestly, we’d just had a terrible Chicago winter and decided to move back to Florida,” she laughed. “Ironically, we moved back the year five major hurricanes hit Florida.”

This time the family settled in Jupiter. Tripp worked at a private bank as a senior accountant progressing to the Accounts Payable Manager before leaving the bank.

“This was pre-recession, and the bank was primarily into mortgage lending,” she explained. “The job was exciting and fast-paced, but again, having two kids, I needed to find a job with more work-life balance.”

New rules

Tripp came to work at Tropical Shipping in 2006 as a senior accountant within the Revenue/Accounts Receivables team and has been progressively promoted throughout Accounting to her current position of Assistant Controller last year. According to Tripp, she’s finally settled into a job she loves. Tripp currently manages Revenue/Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Port Accounting, and NVOCC Accounting.

“I like to be challenged and learn new aspects of a business,” she said. “ I can honestly say, I’ve learned something new every day at Tropical and I’ve never been bored.” 

Perhaps the most exciting project of late is the delivery of six new container vessels.

“The most exciting piece for Tropical, from an accountant’s perspective, is that we were able to build these new ships without taking on any debt,” she said. “As a person who pays attention to details and tries to ensure we minimize the occurrences of bad debt, this approach to our new vessels acquisition says a lot about who we are at Tropical and our strategic and savvy leadership approach to doing business.”

Over the course of her career at Tropical, Tripp has had the privilege of working on various projects including her most recent involvement in the implementation of the new Revenue Recognition Rules that went into effect in January 2019.

“It was a good project because it was a complex one that made our team think outside the box, and I got to interact and work as part of a cross-departmental team with some great people,” she said.

Away from accounting

When Tripp is not at work, she loves to travel.

Tripp’s eldest daughter is now 25, an athletic trainer at a university in North Carolina, and her youngest is a junior at a university in South Carolina.

“My daughters and I just got back from a vacation to the interior of Alaska,” she said. “Our next adventure is a 16-day cruise from the Netherlands to Australia.”

Tripp’s parents still live in Colorado, in the same house they bought when she was two years old. And for the first time in her adult life, Tripp said she feels settled in for the long haul. She’s been Tropical’s Race for the Cure chairperson for the past several years.

“It’s a labor of love,” she said. “I’m very fortunate not to be personally impacted by breast cancer. I do it because it’s a great cause and our employees are just so generous with their donations. It amazes me every year how much we’re able to raise.”

Tripp also recently took part as a protégé in a new mentoring program at Tropical.

“The program pushes you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “It makes you feel you can do things you couldn’t before.”

Eventually, Tripp said she’d like to advance to the company’s leadership team. “I’m super-happy at Tropical. I want to continue to learn new things that will help me to keep advancing my career. If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not starting here sooner and getting the opportunity to learn from the best and have them challenge me more professionally.”

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.