Jessica Sayles, Principal at HRC, named Rising Star in Business




Accounting has a new face, and Jessica Sayles is proof.


Sayles, a principal at Houldsworth, Russo and Co., is a young Hawaiian woman who shuns the accountant stereotype.


“When you think of an accountant, you think of them sitting in the corner, saying, ‘Don’t bother me, don’t talk to me,’ ” Sayles said. “I want to change these perceptions.”


Sayles began her career at Houldsworth, Russo and Co. as an intern in 2007. She stayed with the company and rose through the ranks, becoming an audit manager, then a CPA, and today she is a principal.


The firm specializes in audit and tax works for nonprofit organizations and small businesses.


“It’s really passionate people who don’t necessarily have a financial background,” Sayles said.


Sayles is also a part-time instructor at UNLV, teaching governmental and nonprofit accounting to graduates and seniors.


It’s a way to give back to the academic community where she earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s. It also allows her to keep a pulse on the university’s up-and-coming next generation, she said.


Sayles came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2001, with a goal of keeping strong ties to her culture.


“They call Las Vegas the ninth island. It’s pretty connected here,” she said.


She competed in hula dancing for six years and dances for fundraising events. She previously served as treasurer for the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club and is finance chairwoman.


Recently, she and a team of professionals formed Pacific Rim, which gives advice to struggling minority-owned businesses. Accountants, marketing experts, lawyers and insurance professionals volunteer their time.


Currently, Pacific Rim finds candidates through word of mouth, but the group hopes to soon formalize the application process.


Nonprofit organizations and giving back are themes in Sayles’ life, ones she attributes to her culture, her mother’s positive influence and her company’s culture.


“You don’t have to be the mold,” she said. “You can be something different and still be successful.”

— Kristy Totten


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