Laura Williams often spends her commute thinking not only about the small inconveniences of life but how to adjust and improve them.
Simply put, Williams likes making things better. As UNC Charlotte’s controller, she is constantly devising small changes to processes to make work easier for members of the University community.
“Whether it is establishing guidance on account codes or becoming more intentional about outreach to business officers, just trying to improve things every day is a part of what drives me,” said Williams.
The Controller’s Office handles the mechanics of the flow of the University’s money like cutting checks, issuing direct deposits or collecting payments from students. The office also coordinates the year-end financial process by preparing and reporting annual financial statements. According to Williams, accuracy in reporting is critical, because it demonstrates the University’s financial health to external audiences, facilitating access to capital for important campus investments.
Williams stresses the value of having a great team. She recently welcomed three new direct reports to the Controller’s Office. These additions, coupled with two office veterans, will enable her team to elevate the level of services provided to the University.
“I can only do so much, and my success really depends on the success of everybody in the Controller’s Office. When I see other people succeed, it makes me really proud,” Williams said. She noted one of her best UNC Charlotte moments was when she could offer a complimentary report from the state auditors as part of her presentation to the University’s Board of Trustees.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy, Williams worked in the tax department of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Seeking to join a mission-focused organization, Williams, following a recommendation from a friend, applied to UNC Charlotte in 2009. She was hired as part of the financial reporting team, then assumed the assistant controller for compliance role for three years before being named controller four years ago.
While being controller is stressful, Williams likes it. She said it is rewarding to meet so many people across campus and work collaboratively and to serve on different committees. She has been on the Student Success Working Group and its Financial Need subcommittee, the Student Financial Processes Committee and the Lab School Finance Committee, among others.
“It’s fun meeting people from different areas on campus that are doing totally different things than I am and see them be so good at their jobs in ways I could never be,” said Williams.
As the mother of two young boys, Williams also established a UNC Charlotte Moms group on campus for faculty and staff members who have children elementary school age or younger. This informal group aims to connect working moms at the University through standing lunches and other events. Eventually, Williams would like the group to create a resource list for student parents and tackle other initiatives to ease life for working parents.