Partner Spotlight – Chris Banta

Brown EdwardsPartner SpotlightPartner Spotlight – Chris Banta

Chris joined the firm in August of 2000 after graduating from Virginia Tech.  From the first day he joined the firm, he expressed his interest in auditing and serving the governmental industry and is now the partner with oversight of the firm’s State and Local Government Niche.  Chris was named partner in 2014 and has been located in the Roanoke, Virginia office since he started.  Chris also lives in Roanoke, Virginia with his wife, Kimberly, and his children, Kellen and Katherine.  In addition to serving governmental clients, Chris is also a Certified Fraud Examiner and a team captain in the firm’s Peer Review Services Practice.  Chris also has served on many boards, including serving as past President and Treasurer of the Grandin Theatre Foundation, Treasurer of the Virginia Museum of Transportation; and Treasurer for the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia.

Let’s ask him a few questions:

Where are you from and where did you grow up?

I was pretty transient as a kid.  Born in Columbia, South Carolina where my parents went to college (Univ. of South Carolina).  My dad, a biology teacher, decided to become a sniper and SWAT team member for the FBI.  After that, we moved to Albany, New York for a few years, then we moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey as my dad was transferred to the Philadelphia field office.  I called Jersey my home until I graduated from Virginia Tech and moved to Roanoke, Virginia.  Still, to this day, if you ask me where I’m from, New Jersey is my answer.

Do you have any hobbies? If yes, tell us about them.

I’d say that if you are going to find me doing something in my spare time it comes down to college football, watching movies, building Star Wars Lego sets, working out, reading comics or Stephen King books, and traveling with my wife and kids.  I love Virginia Tech football and tailgating is what keeps me going during my busy season. I’ve always been fascinated with all aspects of movies. Classics, superhero, westerns, war movies, horror movies, great movies, really bad movies, I love them all.  I’m even fascinated by what goes into making movies.  I really enjoy watching REALLY BAD movies because, while it may be total garbage, a lot went into making it and a lot of people poured out all they had to make something that meant a lot to them.  Can we laugh at it? Yes!  But it’s still amazing to see what goes into making a movie behind the scenes.  As superhero movies and tv shows have been adapted by comics, I’ve made a huge investment into reading comics and have been reading Stephen King books since I first read the 1,100-page IT in 7th grade.  Also, what better way to wind down from a long day of auditing than to dump 5,000 Lego pieces on the floor and spend 25 hours putting together the Lego Death Star?  The amount of Lego Star wars sets I have set up around my office and gym at home is out of control.  Finally, I love traveling with my family.  Before I met my wife, I always thought a beach trip was the standard vacation.  After meeting her, we started taking cruises all over, trips to Disney World, to Hawaii, and of course, still, the beach!!

What is something people would find surprising to learn about you?

A lot of the professionals in my audit teams know me as a really hard reviewer and a guy who is the technical guru on a lot.  I think they’d be surprised to know that I had awful grades in college.  I think, to the point that the real reason I got hired was that, in college, I spent time helping a friend with the accounting for his online fishing supply store.  That’s all anyone wanted to talk about at my interviews.  The story behind my “helping” involved one evening over beers helping him figure out QuickBooks.   However, once I started my profession, I really started to enjoy diving into the really technical aspects of governmental accounting and peer reviews and I feel I’ve succeeded in that.

What do you consider your best quality or trait?

As my family says “I’ve never met a stranger.”  I love large crowds, speaking in front of large crowds, and leading teams.  I always want to be the best leader possible and empower those who work with me.

What is the best advice you ever received and from who?

When I graduated from college, Grandma Banta gave me a piece of paper with a handwritten note on it.  All it said was “Christopher, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day the rest of your life.”  19 years into my career at Brown, Edwards, I am happy to say that I’ve followed that advice.  I still have that piece of paper in my office.

If you could be a superhero what would be your superpower?

I’ve always looked at Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies as the ultimate superhero.  He’s fighting to get revenge for his mother, who he felt was wronged.  He’s unstoppable, inhumanly strong, and can turn just about anything into something useful for his purposes (almost like a Boy Scout or MacGyver!).  I actually got the chance to meet Kane Hodder, the actor that played Jason in Friday the 13th 6 through X.  Super nice guy.  I have his autograph in my office.

What is your favorite food?

Macaroni and Cheese. Hands down it’s the meal that caused many a chaotic fight amongst my siblings and me over who would get the last bite.   We weren’t even picky with homemade mac and cheese, we were more than happy for the Kraft box kind and to this day, I love it.

What famous figure (living or dead) would you most like to meet and why?

I’d really like to meet Stephen King at some point.  His imagination and ability to write a character has always fascinated me.

What do you think is your biggest contribution to the Brown Edwards team?

I think my genuine enthusiasm and energy.   In the busiest and most stressful times, I try to be someone that my team can look at and get some motivation from.