Cray Kaiser Employee Spotlight: Carl Thomas

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Carl Thomas.


Carl is an Assurance Manager at Cray Kaiser. His typical engagements include financial statement audits of mid-sized not-for-profit entities and businesses. He has also been involved in many non-audit projects over the years, such as coordinating the budget process, drafting tax levies, ad hoc operational analysis, monthly reporting, ERP systems implementation assistance and more. “You never know what the issue will be when the phone rings,” says Carl.

Carl joined the CK team in April of 2024. He was excited to join CK because of the warm and supportive environment. Carl was most drawn to the growth-mindset shared by the CK team.

Carl received his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reflecting back on his time at the university he said, “The experience was tough and it taught me a lot of valuable lessons about how to be autonomous, how to advocate for myself and how the little things you do every day add up to the big things one day.”


As someone motivated by a challenge and the feeling of a job well done once a solution is found, Carl enjoys the variety of projects and clients he assists at CK. “No two projects are ever the same,” he shared. Which is just the way he prefers it.

When asked which of CK’s core values mean the most, Carl answered, “Education resonates the most with me.” He believes each individual owes it to themselves and their clients to never stop learning and always embrace new challenges. Carl explained, “CPA’s owe it to the profession to share their knowledge base with junior employees and new CPA’s so that we can help ensure the quality of the profession for generations to come. When we see potential in someone up and coming, we need to treasure and nurture it.”

For the up-and-coming CPA’s and those new to the industry, Carl suggests the first step to being successful is to find a mentor. Getting to know your mentor, observing how they work and learning from them is an invaluable opportunity. “I have had someone like this at the highest points of my career and I have lacked someone like this at the lowest points of my career. I don’t feel that it can be explained away as a coincidence.” 


Do you have a special/hidden talent or hobby?

My hobby is manual-camera black-and-white film photography. I prefer the subdued aesthetic of black and white film over the sanitized and overly vivid digital and phone shots. These photos feel distant and dreamy to me, which is exactly how I like to remember these moments. I have all the equipment and chemicals to process the film. Owning the process from shot to print really gives you a new mindset when you push the shutter button.

What’s your favorite movie or tv show?

My favorite TV show is The Sopranos. James Gandolfini’s mastery of Tony Soprano is unmatched in the history of television. My favorite film is Saving Private Ryan – and not because it’s an action movie. I love this film because Tom Hanks’ character never lost his hope, he never stopped daydreaming, and he never lost his ability to care about people in the midst of the darkness around him.

What’s on your music playlist?

I have diverse music interests! Armor for Sleep, Bcalm & Dontcry, Chihei Hatakeyama, Deftones, Down, Dustin Kensrue, Every Time I Die, Floor, Hammock, Hank Williams Sr., Hank Williams III, The Hope Conspiracy, Hopesfall, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Apple Music Lo-Fi Chillhop Study Beats Playlist, Magrudergrind, Nasum, New Found Glory, Neil Young, Palms, Paramore, Pinback, Pig Destroyer, The Receiving End of Sirens, The Smashing Pumpkins, Such Gold, Taking Back Sunday, Team Sleep, Terror, Toro Y Moi, 40 Watt Sun, The War on Drugs, Weekend Nachos.

What was your favorite vacation?

My favorite area to go for vacation is the Orange County, California area. From Santa Monica pier to Disneyland, the Getty Museum, Griffith Observatory, the ocean, the mountains, and much more, there is simply an endless amount of iconic activities and beauty to take in. Southern California weather is also near perfect with warm days and cool nights.

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