Gina Bennett Pruitt, CPA, CISA, CRISC, CHFP, CCSFP, CHCO
Member-in-Charge, Risk Assurance & Advisory Services
Never one to back down from a good challenge, Gina Pruitt has spent most of her career staring down daunting tasks.
Growing up in Crossville, she decided to pursue accounting at Tennessee Tech but was also intrigued by computer science, a subject she found a bit overwhelming. "I thought I'm not going to be afraid of it ... I'm going to learn about it," Pruitt said. One slight issue - Tennessee Tech didn't offer an option to pair computer science with her accounting major. "So," she noted, "I developed my own minor in Information Systems."
That problem-solving mindset has served Pruitt and her clients well over the years. She began her career as an auditor for the state comptroller's office, where she tested a new computerized accounting and reporting system. Before long, she transitioned to a "Big 4" firm. Making the move to Deloitte, she noted, "led me to many of the areas I work in today at KraftCPAs."
Pruitt credited Terry Cowles, the partner who led Computer Assurance Services (later renamed Enterprise Risk Services) for the Southeast region of the national public accounting firm, as being one of the most impactful mentors in her career. "He encouraged me and gave me the feedback I needed to be successful," she explained.
Pruitt's combined love of technology and accounting soon extended to an interest in Nashville's burgeoning healthcare industry, and Cowles fostered that career objective. "He was the person who told me that I should try to start a national healthcare industry team for our service area, and then he helped connect me with the right people to allow me to do it." She added her mentor and lifelong friend was also the one who recommended her for partnership in the firm.
Although professionally successful, Pruitt longed for more time and flexibility to enjoy her children. Taking a 10-year break from accounting, she worked in medical billing and software sales while son Bennett, now 26, and daughter Camille, now 23, were young. However, her passion for accounting was clearly infectious as both children followed in her footsteps. Her son is an accountant in Charlotte, N.C., and her daughter is just finishing up her master's in the field at the University of Tennessee.
In fact, talking to her children and their friends about accounting led Pruitt to discover another passion. "I love recruiting and mentoring young people who are still in college, as well as those just starting their careers. I know first-hand what it means to a person," she explained.
Joining KraftCPAs in late 2010 to head up Risk Assurance and Advisory Services, she often has the opportunity to serve as a guest lecturer and share insights into her diverse areas of expertise at universities across the region. Back at the office, she leads a team working at the intersection of technology, risk management and regulatory compliance with healthcare being one of their largest industry sectors. Assessing threats and advising clients on cybersecurity, HITRUST, HIPAA compliance, risk management and ways to maximize new opportunities, are all in a day's work.
"The good thing about highly regulated industries is the rules are laid out in black and white," Pruitt said with a laugh. However, she continued, those rules tend to shift frequently. "We have to always be on our game," she added.
"Healthcare is an ever-changing world," Pruitt continued of new technologies, services and delivery methods. "You must be agile and willing to change with the industry, as well as be open to new technologies such as blockchain. If you do that, you can be successful."
For Pruitt, it's critical that she help develop the next generation of successful leaders. "If I don't do that, then I really haven't developed my team the way I should," she said. "We have a lot of talented people, and I want to help them grow our business."
She's also mindful of helping her team strike a work/life balance. "Our job is very stressful, and we put in a lot of hours," Pruitt said, adding everyone is keenly aware that a missed protocol could have serious consequences both for client companies and patients. With that pressure, it's important to find what feeds the soul outside of the office. For her, that's time on her houseboat and working to make Nashville better for all.
"I have been blessed with a great career," she concluded. "That affords me the opportunity to help others whether it be through service such as Habitat builds, serving at my church or donating to important causes."