Sep 03, 2019

Every CPA Has a Role in Recruiting

By Maureen Renzi, vice president - communications

A few weeks ago, I received a newsletter with the headline, “Stop Badmouthing the Profession.” It was jarring considering all the work we do with the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation to attract students into the profession. The headline led me to the blog, “Share the Joy of What You Do and Attract People to the Profession.” The blogger discussed an experience he had when taking his son, a high school student, to a CPA networking event. While the blogger loves the profession and the opportunities it presents, many in attendance at the event did not share his passion. They talked about how hard the profession was and what little joy they found in accounting.

Image A

Word Cloud Image A

Image B

Word Cloud Image B

See end of blog to find out which one is from
the emerging leader responses
and which one is from PICPA’s elected leadership.

I was perplexed. This hasn’t been the general experience I’ve had with PICPA members. For example, in 2012 we asked 50 members to describe their career in one word for this video. Those answers were inspiring. Have things changed? I decided to do a little social experiment to see what PICPA members say about the profession today.

I reached out to two distinct PICPA groups – our emerging leaders class that will be recognized at our upcoming Leadership Conference, and our newly elected leadership which includes our officers, board, Council, and chapter presidents. I shared the blog and asked them what they thought and if they were willing to share if/how they encourage people to join the profession. I was curious if the two groups would provide similar answers or if the view of the profession skews at different stages of one’s professional career. Before you read on, I encourage you to look at the two word clouds that accompany this blog. Can you identify which cloud was generated by PICPA leadership and which one was by our Young Leader Award recipients?

Almost every response I received started with an expression of disappointment that the young man in the blog experienced such a negative impression of the profession. All agreed that it is not easy to achieve the CPA designation, but the accomplishment provides great opportunities that may not be available otherwise.

Once I looked at how our test group described the profession and their experiences, what struck me first is that both groups brought up the word “trust” several times. This is an important trait for CPAs across the profession. PICPA member Justin Buschman noted, “Being trusted by the general public goes a long way when helping a client or business partner who may not fully understand what we are doing.” Both groups also talked about the diversity of experiences as a CPA. “Each day brings new challenges and contact with many different individuals and organizations” is how Tara Bender explains her career, and young leader Ashley Blessing concurs: “No day is ever the same.”

Our young leaders frequently identified the CPA designation as a door opener to future growth. “Opportunities,” “professional,” “data,” and “skills” were used to describe the CPA value. As John Guerrieri noted, “The CPA designation provides instant credibility and incredible staying power over the span of a career.” Daniel Starceski explained, “We (CPAs) really are an elite group of professionals, and that means we are in demand and we can be very careful about the firm/company for whom we choose to work.” Several responses talked about the unique analytical ability CPAs have. In fact, Scott Herzing talked about how much fun he has when he “turns jumbled data into meaningful information.” Maggie Donato hopes to break through some stereotypes, and she described that skill a bit differently: “Although math is involved in the profession, I think a better way to describe the skill set needed is solving puzzles. Reconciliations and balancing are real life puzzles that we get to enjoy every day.”

The take on the profession was slightly different among the leadership group. These members talked much more about the idea of service, helping others, and diversity of opportunities. Cory Ng and Nicole Buckman both commented on the wide range of career opportunities. As Buckman noted, “You can direct your own career with a personal passion or interest working in a multitude of roles as a CPA.” This group also talked more about the long game – how a CPA’s role can evolve from accounting to C-suite issues. Mike De Stefano described it this way: “It prepares you for critical thinking and problem solving that helps you guide an organization through challenges that it faces on a daily and strategic basis.” Several leaders talked about helping clients succeed and supporting family success. Marty Levin, PICPA’s 2019-2020 president, noted, “There is no greater satisfaction than helping business owners navigate extremely complex tax and accounting rules to enable them to spend their valuable time building their business.” Wendy Newcomer agrees: “I truly help my clients and their businesses … and I love watching my clients grow and succeed. There is no greater professional joy than to be a part of someone’s dream!”

So, getting back to the title of the original blog, be sure to share the joy of what you do, not just the challenges and demands. Every CPA plays a role in influencing career decisions and the future of the profession.

Special thanks to all who helped with this blog, including young leaders Ashley Blessing, Maggie Donato, Troy Fine, John Guerrieri, Scott Herzing, Rachel Horst, April Maschke, Illona Matsko, Dan Starceski, and Kyle Stuckey. PICPA’s elected leadership responses came from Tara Bender, Nicole Buckman, Justin Buschman, Mike De Stefano, Marty Levin, Paddy McGrath, Roxanne McMurtry, Matt Melinson, Wendy Newcomer, Cory Ng, and Joe Zovko.

Oh, and one last thing. The emerging leaders word cloud is the one identified as Image A, and the PICPA leadership word cloud is Image B.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.