Jessica Carlson: The Woman, the Myth, the Legend

Jessica C.Think fast: Name the second-newest member of Haberfeld’s Executive Team.

If you answered Jessica Carlson, CFO, you are correct! (Newest is CEO Ben O’Neill.)

What else do you know about this stellar addition (as of 2021) to the Haberfeld leadership team? We took a few minutes to sit down with Jessica to learn more about her story, her work, and her family.


She grew up in a military family.

She considers Nebraska to be her “home” as her father was stationed at Offutt the longest. She graduated from Papillion-La Vista High School while her father was working on assignment in the Pentagon. Her parents now live in the D.C. area, and everyone traveled to their house for her parents’ 50th anniversary—including a total of 37 kids and grandkids—which made for a full house!


Jessica originally wanted to be an architect.

Jessica was very much into drafting in high school and considered that career track. However, when she took basic architecture classes, she realized her classmates were not her tribe. Her father suggested accounting, so she went to UNL for college, got both her BA and MA in a dual program, and fulfilled the 150 hours needed to sit for the CPA exam—all in 4.5 years. She also worked retail the entire time and got affordable clothes to look fabulous in the classroom and out!


She had six job offers right out of college.

The economy was incredibly robust, so she felt blessed. The ultimate factor in her decision was the staff at Arthur Anderson (absorbed later by the local KPMG). She has always gravitated toward culture. She started out on the tax team in their Omaha office, her first real “grown-up job.” Unfortunately, the Enron scandal caused her firm to go under after her first few months there, and Jessica saw lifelong employees lose their whole retirement. It was a humbling experience, one that made her aspire to lead like the Arthur Anderson Omaha partners led. With their livelihoods on the line, those leaders agreed to transfer their book of business to another firm, but only if all the staff were part of the deal. Truly incredible leadership in action.


Jessica’s friend told her about the open position at Haberfeld.

Jessica went to the private sector and was working at Computer Services, Inc. Her friend—a corporate recruiter—said, “You should check this [Haberfeld] out!” Jessica politely said, “OK.” And Jessica’s friend insisted, “No, you should really check this out!” The friend raved about our leadership. While Jessica hadn’t been actively searching for a new job, she wasn’t opposed to it either. She decided to apply.


Jessica is Haberfeld’s first CFO.

Jessica tells us that when you’re creating a new role, you can look at it in a few different ways. You have the freedom to create your own path, but you must clear the way as you go.

Nothing was broken when she came aboard, but the company was in the process of maturing and growing. In fact, our strong culture and excellent leadership team allowed her to quickly get her bearings as CFO. What’s really appealing to Jessica is the way the leadership team leads, with much more group decision-making than in most companies. It’s less hierarchical here, and people are more accessible. Anyone can throw out new ideas, and everyone has a voice.


If you come over to the Carlsons’, expect a busy house and a stocked pantry!

Jessica and her husband have four kids ages ten to fifteen, and they live on an acreage near Malcolm, Nebraska. Jessica loves the pace of country life, where other parents are close and always helpful. She also tells us that if you were to look in their kitchen cupboards, you would find every manner of snack (including pretty much every flavor of Pop Tart).


Her dream vacation would be going to Greece.

It probably won’t happen this year, but as she and her husband will soon be celebrating their 20th anniversary, they will definitely be going somewhere memorable!

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