Moss Adams Voices

Carol Suruki-Carmany: Resilient Women

As part of Women’s History Month, Carol talks about the generations of strong women in her family that influenced her to forge her own path and create a life she’s proud of.

Carol Suruki-Carmany

Carol Suruki-Carmany, business assurance partner, has been with Moss Adams for almost 30 years. Early in her career, she struggled to reconcile the life she envisioned for herself with the expectations set upon her as a first-generation Japanese American woman. Carol has created a winding path that ultimately marries her career aspirations and cultural expectations with 100% support from her husband and three boys—and she did it all while inspired by the generations of resilient women in her family tree.

It’s Women’s History Month! What’s one thing that influenced the woman you are today?

I played basketball as a kid and throughout my twenties, so I’m a big proponent of girls’ sports. It taught me how to lose, how to work together as a team, how to interpret getting yelled at by my coach, and how to use all of that to improve and achieve our goals. That’s really helped me in my career, too.

What comes to mind for you when thinking of challenges you faced in your career as a woman?

The biggest challenge I had was trying to fit into a life plan that I felt from societal pressures. In Japanese culture, it’s traditional for the mom to stay at home and take care of the household. I had an internal conflict of wanting an accounting career and having a family.

When I found out I was pregnant while working at Moss Adams, I told my managing partner after two weeks. I didn’t know if I would want to keep working or stay at home, and my managing partner at the time said, “Whatever you need, we’ll help.” That was huge, and knowing I had the support of not just women but also men, was important. Moss Adams provides that flexibility, and the firm is hyper-focused on doing what’s possible to help.

Carol Suruki-Carmany

What inspired your decision to make your own path at that time?

When I was in college, my mom told me, “Find a career that you love, and be financially independent, so you don’t have to rely on anyone. Then, you have more options to choose your path.” I didn’t realize how profound that advice was until years later.

My mom thought it was important for women to have a choice. While I was in high school, she decided to go back to work. My dad was culturally traditional and didn’t think she needed to work, but I’m sure she felt like it was time to focus on what she wanted to do. It was in her nature to take care of people, so she went back to work as a registered nurse for the VA. She helped me understand I have a choice, too, and it starts with being independent.

That’s wonderful! Did your mom also inspire your career choice?

Unfortunately, my mom lost her battle with stomach cancer and passed away at 51.

My grandmother was a role model to me. I remember going to her office job and sitting at her desk while she worked. Seeing her in a suit with her hair tied up in a bun, interacting with her office mates, always stuck out to me. I was in kindergarten at the time, and I remember thinking how much she enjoyed working.

She’s always been an influence for me because of what she went through and how she persevered. She was always so positive and forward-thinking, even when there were reasons for her not to be. She was sent from the United States to Japan at 20 to marry a man she’d never met. It was expected of her. After the war, she came back to the United States with her husband and kids. My grandfather worked at the farm with my grandmother’s family and, unfortunately, died at a young age, probably from exposure to radiation when they moved to Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. After his passing, my grandmother started working for the first time to support herself and her family.

There’s a theme of resilience in the stories of the women in your family.

Yes, I often think of the strong women in my family and the challenges they overcame—my mom, my grandmother, and my aunt who survived cancer. While my grandmother was in Japan, my great-grandmother and her family lived in Southern California and were sent to the internment camps in Arizona. When they came back, they lost everything they’d built since the late 1800s. They had to rebuild their farm with the help of their neighbors and community. The entire family pitched in to work, including my great-grandmother.

In our culture, we learned from our family through action. We watched what they did. The women in my family were resilient, humble, worked hard for others, and were extremely nice and positive. They blazed trails for each generation down, overcoming hardship. These are traits we needed to keep going.

How do you think Forum W plays a role in advancing the resilience of women at Moss Adams?

When I was a senior at the firm, one of my friends quit because she wanted kids and said, “I don’t think we can do that here.” She didn’t think we could have a career and raise a family because we hadn’t seen it. I figured we had to at least try.

What I took away from that, and what I took away from my experience of trial, error, and correction, is that you can’t do anything without support, and Moss Adams is supportive of making sure women on the path of family and career succeed at the firm. Forum W provides that support and community, and Moss Adams is going to do what’s needed to help retain and promote women on all paths into leadership. There are so many wonderful women leaders at the firm today. I’m in awe because they really promote growth here and I’m so proud to be part of the Moss Adams family.

Go Beyond the Desk

At Moss Adams, we believe in the power of possible to empower our clients and people to pursue success however they define it. Explore stories about our professionals, including their personal achievements, at our Beyond the Desk page.