MSUB Alumni selected as 2017 40 Under Forty

Russell Rice

BSBA Accounting

CPA, tax manager, Eide Bailly LLP


RussellWith tax season underway, Russell Rice is putting in marathon hours so that his clients at Eide Bailly can file their income tax returns before the deadline, which is April 18 this year.


“The end of the year is busy for us as we do a lot of year-end calculations,” Rice said during a December interview. “But from January through April, it’s 100 miles per hour for as long as we can go.”


Many accounting firms throw a big party once the last return is filed. The Billings office of Eide Bailly, where Rice is tax manager, will also celebrate the end of filing season.


Growing up, Rice had an interest in pursuing a business career. In college, he narrowed his choices between finance and accounting.


“I spoke with a few people about it, and almost everybody recommended that I take the accounting route,” Rice said. “One person didn’t think I had the personality for accounting, but five or six recommended that I take the accounting route.”


After completing his accounting degree at Montana State University Billings, Rice worked for a short time in a sales and marketing job in Canada. He returned to Montana to work as a tax auditor for the Montana Department of Revenue.


In his spare time Rice began studying for and subsequently passed the CPA exam.


“After spending two years ‘behind enemy lines’ I accepted a job with Eide Bailly and started my career in public accounting,” he said.

Rice started his college education at Brigham Young University in Utah. At age 19, he moved to Honduras for two years doing missionary work for his church.


He transferred to MSUB after his return. Because he was fluent in the language, Rice was able to minor in Spanish while taking only one or two classes.


“I tested out of several classes by going in and talking to the professor in Spanish. The 21 credits of straight A’s helped my GPA,” Rice said.


What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?


An ever-changing income tax code. Most of the bills passed in Congress, whether it’s a healthcare or a highway bill, somehow affect the income tax return or make changes to the income tax code. With a new president, we may be in for another set of changes come 2017…stay tuned!!


What’s the best business advice you have received?


“Work hard and be honest”


Who gave you that advice?


My dad


Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Like many other businesses, Eide Bailly encourages its employees to get involved in the community and volunteer our time to causes and organizations that make our community better. I believe in the power of education to strengthen a community and I work to support the career paths of those within the firm and local students looking for accounting opportunities. I spend time meeting with the professors on local college campuses to make them aware of the employment opportunities within the firm. I work with the Career Advisory Board and meet with interested students. I want to see successful graduates.


Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Baseball. I grew up playing Little League here in Billings and am still an avid fan. During the summer, I play on a recreational softball team hoping that the St. Louis Cardinals need an extra player someday.


Which living person do you most admire?


It’s difficult to name just one person, especially when mentioning my parents. They have always worked together as a team. From my parents, I have learned the values of hard work, responsibility and honesty. I would not be the person I am without combining each of their individual strengths.


Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?


Helping answer my clients' questions and solving their tax problems. Taxes are a big part of our lives and are very stressful for most people. Helping clients achieve success through these stressful times is extremely satisfying.


What do you consider your greatest achievement? 


My family. My wife is my biggest fan and my kids are spectacular. They are a joy and a light in my life and am very lucky to have them.


I’m happiest when I’m… playing the board game “Risk” with my kids. We always have fun seeing which one of us can successfully take over the world.


Article & photo credits: Billings Gazette

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