Resilience course for women accountants
Women made up 59.7% of all accountants and auditors and 52.6% of CFOs in the United States in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor. This kind of track requires resilience.
Three accomplished women shared their experiences and trials during a recent webinar titled “Leading the Way: Women in the Accountancy ProfessionWhich was sponsored by the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee and the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. Moderated by Adrienne Davis, CPA, Financial Advisor at Northwestern Mutual, topics included mentors, lifelong learning and managing challenges, among others.
Learn from setbacks and successes, and have courage
All professionals face their ups and downs, and that was certainly the case with Tifphani White-King, Principal and National Head of Tax Practice at Mazars in New York. One of her worst career moments, she recalls, was losing her first client. After debriefing her client and sharing this information with her team, her company was able to “take advantage of some of these points to gain new work in the space,” she said during the webinar.
However, her brightest moment was the one she had prepared for and dreamed of: becoming a partner. “I had this goal when I walked through the door on day one,” she noted. Her father was her most ardent champion, telling her through the years to “remember the P,” she said.
Years ago, Selene Benavides, based in Pflugerville, Texas, CFO of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA Inc.), was at a crossroads in her career as to what to do next, but her transition to the position of CFO for an organization she was passionate about ultimately emerged from this stressful time of decision making. “The one milestone that catapulted my career has probably been a leap of faith from the corporate world,” she said during the webinar. “This opportunity gave me the title and the responsibilities to open more doors.”
Meanwhile, Sandra Wiley, shareholder and president of Manhattan, Kan.-Based Boomer Consulting Inc., which serves accounting firms, shared her apprehension years ago when the AICPA asked her to speak. of performance management to managing partners.
“I was not at all confident,” Wiley said during the webinar. “The subject I was good with; the audience, not so much.” But the audience, she concluded, responded favorably to her speech and ultimately it boosted her confidence. Today, she is a sought-after speaker at national conferences and a renowned author of books.
Wiley is also proud to have graduated from college while working and being a single mom. She advises other women not to limit themselves but to seek what they want. “For me, it’s a question of balance, and it’s a question of courage and of moving you forward,” she said. “Work on that inner strength that you have, and you will be awesome.”
Live by your words and your standards
Courage is important for women in business, who often have to juggle work and family. But Benavides also embraces discipline and tenacity. “Everything in front of me is seen as an opportunity,” she said. She also subscribes to simplicity and simplicity. “Life is already too complicated, with too many variables we can’t control, so why make it harder?” Said Benavides.
White-King said she lives by the credo of being “thankful and grateful,” and that she exudes gratitude and indebtedness in her daily interactions with clients, her team and everyone she sees. meet. Money and compensation, she noted, is not the best solution. “What really means the most to people, I think, is to feel appreciated and just say the words ‘thank you’ and to be grateful to your teams and to each other,” he said. she declared.
Find a mentor, be a mentor, pay it
Gratitude and recognition come easily to White-King, especially when it comes to Robert Stricoff, his longtime mentor. Stricoff, who recently retired, hired her as an intern at Arthur Andersen and then took her with him to Deloitte. During the webinar, she noted that Stricoff had taken her to meetings to observe and learn, with client approval, and this experience helped her rise through the ranks and gain knowledge on how to lead. . “It was great, really, having those whispers in my ear along the way,” she said.
Wiley also appreciates his steadfast mentor Gary Boomer, shareholder and visionary strategist at Boomer Consulting. But she has also been helped by other people over the years, including her high school counselor; his first female supervisor, who taught him to stay professional and control his emotions; and his coach, Shannon Waller, which helps keep her feet on the ground.
“I’ve had people who walked into my life at exactly the right time,” Wiley said. “And all of these people were intentional in my life, and I’m eternally grateful to them.” Today, Wiley enjoys helping others and paying them up front, but she offered this advice: “You can be that person for someone else in your life, but it has to be intentional.”
Learning also has to be intentional, “even if it’s just reading an article or blogging, or watching a TED talk,” Wiley said. She strives to learn something new every day and enjoys reading authored books. John C. Maxwell and Jim collins, among others.
White-King, meanwhile, reads motivational books from Joel osteen and more recently read Michelle Obama To become with the Mazars book club. A new mom whose son has made appearances on Zoom Calls, White-King also advises working mothers to read – with their children – Vashti Harrison’s books, which give short biographies of accomplished people in history.
Benavides’ most recent favorite reads are Captivating, a book by John and Stasi Eldredge, and Dare a lot, through Brené Brown. CaptivatingShe said, taught her “to be a woman and to allow me to be vulnerable at times.” Benavides also stressed the importance of staying relevant by reading, listening to podcasts or getting a mentor.
“Dig deep, understand yourself, know yourself and stay true to your heart,” she said.
For more resources to retain and advance women in the profession, visit aicpa.org/womenlead.
– Cheryl Meyer is a freelance writer based in California. To comment on this article or suggest an idea for another article, contact Sabine Vollmer, a JofA editor-in-chief at [email protected].