CTO’s knack keeps firm functioning

CONNECTED AND CONNECTING: Lynn Baril’s job as Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co.’s chief technology officer is to keep the firm online, flexible and on the leading edge, although not the bleeding edge, according to Managing Director Alan H. Litwin. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
CONNECTED AND CONNECTING: Lynn Baril’s job as Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co.’s chief technology officer is to keep the firm online, flexible and on the leading edge, although not the bleeding edge, according to Managing Director Alan H. Litwin. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

Lynn Baril | Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd., chief technology officer

Lynn Baril, chief technology officer at Providence-based accounting firm Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd., has helped define the company’s tech vision for 16 years, leading her colleagues toward the cutting edge of information strategy.

“IT changes every day. It’s never boring,” she said.

Baril’s experience with technology stretches back to the time before her own company, Conti CPA in Providence, was purchased by KLR in 2000. She’d been the office manager for 10 years at the time, overseeing Conti’s operations, preparing tax returns and producing enterprise resource-planning reports for clients.

- Advertisement -

Alan H. Litwin, managing director at KLR, took note of Baril’s gift for technology. “When she came in, she had good IT knowledge,” Litwin said. He asked her to make that her focus going forward, a move that proved fortuitous for everyone.

KLR has offices in Providence and Newport, Boston and Waltham, Mass., and Shanghai – all of which use computers and software that Baril and her team are tasked with keeping up to date and functioning.

Litwin said Baril’s efforts have kept the firm’s information technology uptime at 99.6 percent.

“It’s huge. We’ve got 230 some-odd people relying on that technology. If they’re down, we’re down,” Litwin said.

Litwin credits Baril with implementing the strategies contributing to KLR’s technological stability, including power redundancy on-site, and full backups that, in an emergency, can switch over within a millisecond. During a power outage or a loss of data, “your screen might flash, and that would be it,” Litwin said.

Baril, reflecting on her early years as an IT professional, hesitates to mention much of her experience is self-taught. But Litwin isn’t shy about it. “When we say largely self-taught, that’s an understatement,” Litwin said. “Lynn has learned everything on her own.”

In 2007, Baril earned her Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert rating, building on the skills she’d learned while handling IT at Conti. She’s quick to credit the environment at KLR that provided her the freedom to develop her skills.

“I have a lot of people around me who nurtured me,” Baril said.

Baril is constantly researching technology and testing it out, Litwin said, keeping the firm’s information technology up to date with the latest advances, but with a conservative approach. She also chairs the technology committee for firmwide operations, providing commonsense, steady, risk-averse, technological counsel.

“I would say we’re on the leading edge, not on the bleeding edge,” Litwin said.

Three years ago, Baril switched the company over to virtual desktops, increasing the firm’s security and reliability. Using that approach, employees no longer have entire computers on their desks, only terminal connections to the server, known as “dumb terminals,” Baril said.

The approach allows the firm to update and maintain its software more efficiently, and keeps everything behind the company’s firewall. It also streamlines the process when the firm opens a new office. “All we have to do is put some terminals out there and point-to-point [network]” them to the company’s servers, Baril said.

“Since moving to the virtual environment, we can now allow flexible work hours better than we have ever in the past,” Litwin said.

Baril has been instrumental in integrating many of the firm’s acquisitions. She leads a team of four IT professionals she’s recruited, each with a different focus: communication, hardware, programming, software and networking.

When Baril and her team tackle a new project, they collaborate on a strategy to pull it off, she said. “We strategize on the process for how they’re going to do things and how they’re going to handle things,” Baril said.

“During her 16 years with the firm, Lynn has literally rolled up her sleeves and serviced our clients externally when needed, along with implementing, overseeing and maintaining a solid, repeatable, internal technological platform, which has unquestionably contributed greatly to our ability to grow smoothly through acquisition and organic growth to the largest CPA firm in Rhode Island, third-largest in New England and a Top 100 CPA firm in the United States,” Litwin said.

No posts to display