It's the experience and not the age that matters, new Missouri Auditor Nicole R. Galloway said last week in an interview just two weeks after she took the job.
"My professional background and my experiences lead so well into what the responsibilities of this office are," Galloway said. "I'm a CPA and a certified fraud examiner.
"I've worked in public accounting - auditing large organizations like Fortune 500 companies and even small, small organizations."
All of that private industry experience provides one perspective, she said, and Galloway has government experience, too.
She said several times during a 20-minute interview the auditor's duties "are not overwhelming to me."
Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her to the auditor's post about two months after Auditor Tom Schweich - elected last November to a second four-year term - died Feb. 26 in an apparent suicide.
Nixon also had appointed Galloway to the Boone County treasurer's office in April 2011, after Treasurer Jan Fugit died. Galloway then ran for and won a full four-year Boone County treasurer's term in the November 2012 elections.
As treasurer, she managed a $100 million investment portfolio "and was responsible for maintaining the county's AA bond rating, and had several accomplishments there - using (the county's) strong financial position to refinance and issue debt, saving the county $4.6 million," Galloway explained.
In his April 14 news release announcing Galloway's selection, Nixon also noted she served as secretary/treasurer of the County Employment Retirement Fund, which is responsible for managing the pensions of 16,000 participants around the state; was a board member of the Missouri County Treasurers' Association; and served as the secretary/treasurer of the Missouri Technology Corporation, where "she has helped cultivate high-tech startups and entrepreneurs."
Galloway said all of those experiences will help with "what the auditor's office is responsible for, auditing local governments, counties, schools, cities" as well as "large organizations like I did auditing Fortune 500 companies."
Galloway said she's excited by the challenges her new job will bring, "being innovative, reviewing things and seeing how we can do things better."
She believes "the auditor's office can make a difference" in the way government agencies operate.
"The whole point of government ... is to serve its citizens," she noted. "It doesn't bother me that it's not an enforcement-type activity, because that's not what the point of the audit is.
"You can see that, when you are independent, (with) good findings, good recommendations (and) people trust what you're doing - they want to do better and follow what's in the audit reports.
"Because they know they're being held accountable for it."
While many may see her numbers-related job as not very exciting, Galloway said: "I've always been a numbers and analytical person. When I was in fifth grade, my dad would assign extra math problems for me to do, after school.
"I liked that I could get the answer right. And, if I got the answer wrong, I liked that I could learn and just do it right the next time."
She graduated from Ursuline Academy, a Catholic high school in South St. Louis County, in 2000.
Four years later, Galloway was graduating from what now is the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, with degrees in Applied Mathematics and Economics.
In 2008, she earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Missouri.
And she sees her job as continuing education.
"Being a CPA and a certified fraud examiner," Galloway explained, "(I use) those analytical skills to talk to people, to communicate with them and learn what they're doing.
"Every time you go out on an audit or read an audit report, you're learning something new."
When she took her oath of office three weeks ago, Galloway said she wanted to add more emphasis on "cyber security" in each audit her office does, because that's a growing part of people's lives - "(and) this office, itself, has to stay nimble and use technology" wisely.
For example, she said, more audits should be delivered by email rather than the U.S. mails.
Even as Nixon in mid-April was announcing his plans to appoint Galloway as auditor, Missouri Republican Party Director Johnathan Prouty said Nixon had "put politics ahead of the wishes of the voters by handpicking a member of his own party to fill the vacancy in the office," and "Nicole Galloway is entirely beholden to Jay Nixon."
After taking her oath of office on April 27, Galloway promised to be independent politically and pledged "to continue the vital work Auditor Schweich performed, bringing the office closer to taxpayers."
She told the News Tribune last week, "My professional standards require me to be independent - it's not optional. I will be an independent advocate for the citizens I am serving and - no matter who the subject of the audit is, whether it's this governor or the next."
With the exception of a couple of people Schweich had chosen to be his top administrators, Galloway has kept the professional staff that had worked for Schweich and, in many cases, for previous auditors Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill.
She's been married to Jon Galloway since 2008, and they have two young sons.
"My family and husband are very supportive. I could not do this without my full family support - and I'm lucky to have that," she said.
Having a full-time job and a young family is "an issue that so many Missourians face," she said. "It's not just me, alone, here - families across the entire state have to balance work and family and life."
Under the Constitution, her appointment is for the rest of Schweich's term, which ends in 2019. She has said she plans to run for the statewide office in 2018.