When she was an Ohio high school teacher working in a town surrounded by cornfields, Lori L. Payne couldn't have predicted she would one day look out her office window and see L.A. stretching out beneath her.

"I grew up in a family of educators and I always thought that I would teach," she said. "And I did for several years: I taught bookkeeping, typewriting and business law."

Payne is now the managing director and practice leader for litigation and fraud investigation services at the Century City office of BDO Seidman LLP, an accounting and consulting firm.

It was an invitation to visit a friend here that changed Payne's life.

"I enjoyed California," she recalled of her first trip to the Golden State. "During my visit, my friend convinced me to come out here and get a temporary job. And so I did, and basically never went back home."

Payne's temporary job that summer was as a secretary at accounting firm Ernst & Young. She was interested enough to go back to school to study accounting and she later rejoined the firm as a CPA.

Since then, her career has included stints as a senior consultant at Hagler Bailey and as a senior manager at KPMG LLP. Prior to BDO Seidman, she was managing director at Mesirow Financial Consulting LLC.

BDO Seidman brought Payne in to lead the West Coast fraud investigation practice. As managing director, her duties include working for BDO Seidman clients' employee misconduct investigations, forensic accounting, and anti-fraud programs, among others. She is also responsible for business development, client services and recruiting.

"I like having the opportunity to build up a new practice and to be a business leader," Payne said of her work at BDO Seidman. "I like my role as a developer and teacher for my staff. In a collegial environment, I can teach my junior members about my experience. This allows me to continue teaching without being a teacher."

Payne lives in Simi Valley with her husband and 4-year-old cat. In her free time, she loves to travel, read and knit.

Yoo Mi Chin

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