Back in high school, I was on the technology-science track and I got ill my freshman year. I fell behind and so they pushed me into the secretarial track and gave me an accounting class. I loved it, and I thrived. After I got my grades up and went back on the college prep track, I kept taking accounting classes. I tell my children all the time, it’s like eating potato chips. You try one and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I just have to have more.”

[Accounting is] something that I took to very easily. Some of the basic concepts that most people struggle with in the beginning seemed to be very clear to me. It came natural to me, the idea of the numbers telling the story.

I went to Deloitte Touche. It was fantastic. I was a nontraditional student, being that I was 30 when I graduated [from college] and I had been married for quite some time to my military spouse. [Deloitte] not only embraced my nontraditional status, but they also made it very easy for me to enter that level.

I went to Japan and I had the opportunity to work with a small importer, and that’s really where my career takes a turn. I’d had this big dream of partnership at Deloitte, but then life and family put some obstacles in the way.

Because of my husband’s success, it was very clear that we were going to be moving every 22 months for the next 10 years, which we did. Instead of throwing up my hands, I took what I knew and each time we moved I found another small business to work with. It gave me a lot of great experiences and I think that’s what makes me good at my job now because I’ve seen a lot of missteps. I’ve [also] seen a lot of things that have worked.

Antoinette Merrill is the chief financial officer for Summit, a D.C.-based analytics-advisory firm that works with federal agencies, financial institutions and litigators. ( Jan Michele photography)

Summit Consulting was such a great opportunity for me. [At the time] my tenure at Dougherty & Associates] was coming to a close. The business had sort of settled, and so I started a very quiet search. I was looking for the perfect place, a place that would combine a need for my expertise but also give me an opportunity to learn new things and face new challenges.

All of my experience has been trying to settle entrepreneurs down and not burst their bubble. When I first talked to [principal] Anthony [Curcio] and he started talking about we have a strategic plan, you would be a part of the strategic plan. I realized that all the things that I embrace are embraced by Summit.

Each company that I’ve been involved with, I’ve been the driver of something like this. What is wonderful about my time already at Summit is I’m not pushing anything. I feel like I am walking along with a team.

— Interview with Kathy Orton

Antoinette Merrill

Position: Chief financial officer, Summit, a D.C.-based analytics-advisory firm that works with federal agencies, financial institutions and litigators.

Career highlights: CFO, Dougherty & Associates; controller, InterImage.

Age: 48

Education: MBA, George Mason University; BA, University of San Diego.

Personal: Lives in Arlington.