Fairygodboss of the Week: Kristen Keats

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Keats.

Photo Courtesy of Kristen Keats.

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June 23, 2024 at 3:35PM UTC
If you'd told Kristen Keats two years ago that she'd be the CEO of a company full of happy colleagues who serve happy clients, she wouldn't have believed you. Keats got her start in the traditional accounting world before founding Breakaway Bookkeeping and Advising. With Breakaway, she's able to give the people she serves the kind of attention she's always wanted to provide — even during COVID-19. 
Recently, we talked to this entrepreneur, mother and bookkeeping extraordinaire about her career journey, her greatest accomplishments and challenges in creating a company and how she unwinds. She also shared her best advice for women who want a career that feels fulfilling. Hint: It's all about being flexible. 
Fairygodboss of the Week: Kristen Keats
Founder and CEO, Breakaway Bookkeeping and Advising
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get where you are now?
After graduating with an accounting degree, I started at a “Big 6” firm (now down to 4), which I think of as a boot camp for accountants. I continued to work in the industry for a couple of years until I had my first child. Then I started my own accounting practice and worked from home for nine years. After that I worked for a local firm, then at a larger regional firm. Those experiences planted the seeds for starting Breakaway Advising and Bookkeeping (Breakaway), where I am now founder and CEO.

What's an accomplishment that you are proud of?

Leaving a stable and lucrative job to start Breakaway was terrifying, but I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. I love going to work everyday and working with people who are excited to be there! Being able to act as a mentor to our new advisors and see them thrive is particularly rewarding.

What's a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

Starting a new business is full of challenges! As we grow Breakaway, we’re constantly swerving, pivoting and adjusting to overcome challenges, both big and small, and to provide the best experience for our advisors and clients. Lately, working from home has been a personal challenge — between a very vocal pup and two teens, everyone seems to need my attention. Luckily, I’ve been able to work through it by just accepting the occasional disruption and not stressing about rescheduling meetings when necessary.

What's the No. 1 career tip that you'd like to share with other women?

You never know where your career might take you and it’s important to keep an open mind when opportunities come your way. If you’d told me two years ago I would be a CEO creating my dream company, I would have told you you were crazy — and yet, here we are!

Why do you love where you work?

At Breakaway, our tagline is “Bring joy."  After working for so many years as a CPA for firms that only cared about hourly billing, I love creating and working somewhere that values joy above all else. I can also finally serve my clients in the way that I’ve always wanted, helping them reach their goals and live their dreams. Our advisor team is kicka** and I love being surrounded by smart, fun people who aren’t afraid to work hard, be vulnerable and have a blast doing it.

Who is your Fairygodboss? Why?

Brené Brown. I love that her whole jam is being vulnerable. I am striving to build a company that is authentic above all else and vulnerability is a big part of that.

What do you do when you're not working?

I keep busy supporting my two teens and volunteering on the board of their high school band boosters. Who knew marching band was such serious business these days? I’m also looking forward to hiking, camping and spending time on our beautiful Oregon coast once we can be out and about again. During the pandemic, I’ve passed the time reading, walking my labradoodle, Bruno, and doing puzzles.

If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?

Elton John.

What's your karaoke song?

"Material Girl."  For karaoke, it’s always Madonna or Britney for me!

What's your favorite movie?

"It’s a Wonderful Life."

What book would you bring with you on a deserted island?

I can only bring one?!? Probably BushCraft 101… I will need a reference guide. Otherwise I’ll be dead in five minutes.

What's your go-to self care activity?

I enjoy a good massage or a hot yoga session. During stay-at-home, I’ve been making daily yoga a priority and was thrilled to discover Yoga With Adriene, which has become my go-to!'

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