Oct 14, 2013

PICPA’s Homecoming has Leaders in Tears

By Maureen Renzi, Vice President - Communications
leadership conference

The PICPA hosted its annual Leadership Conference in late September, and someone suggested that it should be renamed “Homecoming.”  As I looked around the room and saw the genuine pleasure members experienced as they welcomed each other to the meeting, I noted the groups that naturally gravitated to each other because of their shared interest in specific PICPA areas (the government relations group) or geographic area (South Central was one of the more rowdy). I thought “homecoming” was a great description of this special PICPA event.

Bob Firely, PICPA president, takes the lead in developing the Leadership Conference, and the participants are PICPA members who serve as officers, committee chairs, and committee members. Many come back year after year to gain insightful lessons on both professional developments as well as leadership trends and techniques. Participants renew friendships with colleagues from across the state while building contacts with others who share interests in promoting, enhancing, and empowering the profession. The final session with Don Yeager even had participants in tears with his inspirational stories about leadership decisions of some great athletes who faced great personal challenges. To me, these are the ingredients of a successful homecoming.

Whatever you call it, it’s an opportunity to escape the day-to-day demands of your business and look at the big issues. Here’s a quick summary for those who weren’t at the conference so you, too, can begin thinking about the big issues:

  • Ron Baker, nationally recognized CPA firm advisor, spent significant time discussing value pricing. Are CPAs selling time, or are they selling wisdom, experience, and results? Baker has been an advocate of value pricing for years. With today’s technology has it’s time finally arrived? There was some interesting discussion on the demise of the time sheet as many CPAs know it.
  • Bill Ezell, former AICPA chair and current chair of the Pathways Commission  lead the discussion on the future of accounting education. While accounting is experiencing success in terms of record-breaking numbers of graduates, projections show that the number of students graduating from high schools is going down, and this trend is not sustainable. Now is the time to be sure that education reflects the future of the profession, and develop a curriculum that allows CPAs to play a critical role in supporting a prosperous society.
  • Ken Bouyer, diversity leader at Ernst & Young, led a discussion on the importance of diversity in the profession. His personal story demonstrated that it’s not just about bringing different types of people into a firm or business, but establishing a culture where diverse people can thrive. Diversity of thought and perspective drives innovation. Does your firm look like innovation?
  • Mike Colgan, PICPA’s CEO and Executive Director, then posed a few questions to the group. First he asked what PICPA does best. Members reaffirmed that we are continuing to support of mission of providing education, advocacy, and image enhancement. When asked what PICPA should address in the future, the responses were for tax simplification, particularly local collections, promoting CPAs in the community, succession planning, technical information and CPE opportunities, to name a few. The PICPA team is reviewing these recommendations as we plan for next year’s strategic direction.
  • Don Yeager, author and former Sports Illustrated editor, ended the day with his take on what it means to be a leader based on his experiences working with famous athletes, particularly as he worked with them to author books telling their stories. In his observations on working with Michael Jordan – and what he has observed as a common trait for most athletes – he found that “they hate to lose more than they love to win.” What resonated with me is that he observed that leaders know that they will never outperform their inner circle, so they strive to increase the knowledge and experience of those that they work with. Isn’t that what the PICPA is all about? Active members continue to expand their network, increase their sphere of influence, and continually grow and learn with their peers.
In addition to the outstanding speakers, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize that the attendees are a key component of this successful program. A highlight is the recognition of our Young Leaders Award recipients. They are the future of the PICPA and the profession, and that future looks promising.

The most common review from the program was that it’s going to be tough to beat next year. I am confident that we are up to the challenge. Be sure you get an invitation by joining a PICPA committee this year. You don’t want to miss a homecoming that promises to be insightful, productive, and fun!

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