Staff Spotlight: Rick Arciniaga
Rick Arciniaga is one of the friendly members of the AJCC accounting office, and as Controller, it’s his job to make sure that everything financial runs just the way it’s supposed to. He is so good at this job that you would think that he had always planned to be an accountant, but Rick says that he just fell into finance. “I was going to school,” Rick explains, “and I went to McDonald’s to earn some extra money. It was supposed to just be a summer stint to pay for a car, but I fell in love with the job. I really liked the fast pace, and this job became an opportunity to mold myself differently. I was always very introverted, and it forced me to recreate myself. The job helped to develop who I am now. Quality, service, and cleanliness became part of who I am and my work ethic. I also anticipate people’s needs. That’s one of the qualities I bring to the J.”
McDonald’s was a huge influence on Rick’s life. He met his wife there, and some of the best friends he still has are from his three and a half years there. During that time, he got married and had two of his four children. Rick eventually decided that because of his experiences at McDonald’s, he really wanted to pursue a degree in accounting and went back to school part time. He explains that “between school and work, I was so busy that I have no real memories of my kids’ early years. My wife was essentially a single mom, unfortunately, but she was so supportive. Once I graduated, I left the smaller firm to pursue a position at the PennySaver.
“And then in 1986, I became Mr. Mom and stayed home for four months. That’s when I got into the kitchen and learned to cook a little bit. I had a 4, 3, and 6-month-old. Being a stay at home dad was the experience of a lifetime,” he laughs, “and I would never do it again! It is such a hard job to be a mom! I then got a job at FHP here in Long Beach, and that was my first foray into health care. I learned so much and got some great mentoring. I was there for over 11 years until they were sold to PacifiCare. I went from staff accountant to supervisor to manager to controller.”
Rick had other jobs over the years, including a stint at Ernst and Young, which he felt solidified his CPA credentials, but which also made him realize he didn’t want to be a public accountant. From there he worked several jobs, primarily in health care, and about 5 years ago he landed a job at SCAN: “I was at SCAN for four years, and it was just a meat grinder. It wasn’t fun and I lost my passion. I left SCAN cold turkey and started looking for a job which better suited me. I wanted to be somewhere small where my participation made a difference. I was very picky about where I was willing to go.
“I heard about the job at the J, but I wasn’t sure I would fit in because I’m not Jewish and because I had never worked with non-profits. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to apply and a week later I had an interview. I was hired last August, and it has been exactly what I was looking far. I like to have fun in whatever I do, and I like the process of accomplishing something. We have a good time in our office. I like to play music on Fridays and create a fun and responsible environment.
“I really enjoy working, and I plan to work as long as I’m still having fun. Overall, I really enjoy the camaraderie of the people I work with here. I’m very busy, and I really respect how busy my colleagues are. It takes a lot of dedication to make the J run smoothly. So many people work late and on weekends. I see Jeffrey working so many hours meeting with people and socializing so that this place can run well. It’s a great environment and I really look forward to coming to work.”
Rick has been married for over 35 years, and his kids are now 35, 34, 31, and 22. He is very passionate when he talks about his family: “I have deep family values and they are core to who I am. My last name is rare. It’s originally Basque and there is the town of Artzinega. I am very proud of my family and my children. My kids are now in Chicago, Santa Cruz, and Seattle, and all my vacations are to go visit my kids out of state. My kids are all doing great. I taught them through example that hard work and dedication will get you places.”