By Jennifer Cryder, CPA, executive vice president and COO
PICPA Council met in Hershey, Pa., on Dec. 10, 2019, to talk about the forces shaping the accounting profession. Council is tasked with identifying and advising on issues of importance to the profession and the PICPA. This is a big job. Thankfully there was plenty of Hershey’s chocolate on hand to help!
PICPA Council has 46 members from across Pennsylvania. In addition to PICPA Board members, each of our 11 chapters sends two delegates and there are 12 at-large spots each term. This structure allows for a mix of experiences across the profession to come together and contribute to a robust dialog.
Our most recent Council meeting began with a panel discussion that was aimed at introducing the perspective of some younger CPAs who are not involved with the PICPA. Council heard from Mike Rucinsky (Deloitte), Kelly Mulhearn (Eisner Amper), Deborah Roseboro (Verizon), and Shea Saman (Food Bank of Central Pennsylvania) about their perceptions of the PICPA. A great dialogue ensued between the panelists and Council members as both groups became more acquainted with the each other’s perspective on the PICPA.
Afterward, Council split into small working groups. Each group was asked to think specifically about a particular segment of PICPA’s membership, such as new graduates in public accounting, controllers in closely held businesses, or sole practitioners. The groups talked through things like the professional challenges of each segment, how particular segments of membership like to learn and develop skills, and what PICPA programs, products, and services could be of benefit to each one. The work of the small groups was shared in ways that brought each member segment to life. Let’s just say that PICPA Council members are very creative!
From there, our carefully crafted discussion agenda really went off the rails – but in the best possible way. I was thrilled and surprised to see Council members so engaged in discussing PICPA’s role in providing value to members – and how rapidly that is changing. Everyone in the room ended up turning their chairs around to face the center of the room. Even though more than 50 people were in the room, it felt like a very thoughtful and intimate conversation ensued. PICPA members spoke with passion about all the things the PICPA does for its members and how hard it would be for any other organization to replicate that. Jeremy Allen (The Walz Group) said, “We all built our careers as CPAs on taking calculated risks, problem solving on behalf of our clients and companies, and picking ourselves back up when we may have stumbled. I think we have to keep moving PICPA forward, and am in strong support of taking a few calculated risks to get us where we need to go as an association so we can keep supporting CPAs in Pennsylvania for years to come.”
For me, there were two themes that resonated: the importance of personal interaction and the vital role our chapters play in facilitating those connections. So much of the value that the PICPA provides to members is a sense of community and connection. While all our marketing and communication channels (emails, newsletters, and even blogs like this one!) are vitally important to share information, these can never replace the importance of the PICPA connecting with its members in their firms and companies, at learning and social events, or in local communities across Pennsylvania. We heard from Council many great ideas for how to make the connections with each chapter and the state-wide organization stronger. I look forward to working with the PICPA team to see how we can work these connection points even further in our strategies.
Finally, Council challenged the PICPA to evolve and keep pace with the change experienced across the profession. Council members cited the need for adaptation as evidenced by the perspectives in the panel discussion with the younger CPAs, as well as the need to provide personalized value to many different segments of PICPA membership. The next generation of CPAs will not join the PICPA simply for the professional prestige that comes with the association, nor will they retain their membership if they don’t see how the PICPA directly impacts their life as a CPA for the better. With a brain trust like the one we had in Hershey, I’m very optimistic that we can deliver on a strategy of personalized member value and local connections.
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