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AICPA Has Chosen Its 2011 Leadership Academy, You Probably Aren’t On It

We’re not saying that pillars of the profession don’t frequent this site (we know Tom Hood shows up from time to time) but chances are, if you’re reading this at noon on a Friday with absolutely no intention to even pretend like you’re working for the rest of the day, you’re not among the AICPA’s new Leadership Academy choices.

The diverse group of 34 young CPAs will attend courses, lectures and mentoring sessions to develop the skills necessary to become the next generation of leaders in business, industry, government and the accounting profession.

“The AICPA takes its commitment to diversity and the development of young leaders within the accounting profession very seriously,” said Paul Stahlin, CPA, AICPA chair. “Within the last three years, we’ve happily witnessed a surge in the amount of highly qualified young people choosing to become CPAs. The young CPAs selected to participate in this year’s Leadership Academy have demonstrated their commitment to the profession, to their communities and their potential to become future leaders.”

This year’s participants represent a cross section of the profession’s role in the American capital market system, meaning they come from different backgrounds, specialties and even ethnicities. Some work in public accounting and others in business, industry, government or academia. The 2011 class has twice the number of business, industry and government participants as the classes of 2009 and 2010. The tax and audit split is 50 / 50 and 11 states have first time candidates. On an ethnic, gender and geographic basis, this year’s Leadership Academy is as diverse as America. They are equally divided between men and women and include CPAs of Asian, African American, Caucasian, Hispanic / Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander descent from all over the United States.

“The Leadership Academy is a great example of how the AICPA works to achieve its vitally important mission to develop young CPAs to lead the accounting profession and help meet its obligation to serve the public interest,” said Barry Melancon, CPA, AICPA president and CEO, who will address the Leadership Academy. “These ambitious, talented professionals are the future of the accounting profession. And through the AICPA’s Leadership Academy, the future begins now.”

The Institute selected the participants from a large pool of candidates sponsored by either their employers and/or state CPA societies. Candidates, who must be under 35 years of age, were selected on the basis of their work history, licensure information, professional volunteer activities, community service and awards and honors. In addition, each candidate supplied a statement explaining why participating in the academy would be important personally. AICPA senior leadership reviewed and evaluated each submission and a selection committee recommended the participants. All finalists were personally approved by both the AICPA Chair and CEO.

What this means is that it isn’t too late for a lot of you, but, you know, you better stop spending so much time complaining about work and start kissing up to your state society folks.

In all seriousness, this is an excellent opportunity for these young CPAs, and if any of them do somehow read this, we’d love to hear from you and talk about how you feel about being chosen.

Turns Out I Wasn’t the Only One Under 40 at AICPA Governing Council After All

When I wrote Why Am I the Only Person Under 40 at AICPA Spring Council? last week, I knew that my tongue-in-cheek exaggeration would get people talking, which was mostly the point of saying something like that. As I think we all know, whenever someone implies that the profession is still represented mostly by middle-aged men in suits, everyone gets worked into a lather. My goal wasn’t to offend said middle-aged men in suits, most of whom I admire for their leadership, but to bring the issue of under-representation of the younger demographic to the table for discussion.

I didn’t actually believe I was the only one under 40 there (creative license people, dealtand that there is a hierarchy that young CPAs have to work their way up, starting on the state level. As a reporter, I had to do exactly the same, first covering MACPA’s CPA Day in Annapolis to get a feel for how visits with legislators work before being sent to cover Council. Cruising through the Maryland State House was a lot like attacking the Hill except on a smaller scale, and certainly prepared me for what to expect at Council.

As it turns out, I really wasn’t the only one under 40 there (as suspected). Evidenced by the following email I received from a young Washington State CPA shortly after Council wrapped:

Hi Adrienne,

I’m sorry I missed you! Thank you for your article. I am 2 years fresh out of college (work for an international firm), and was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the Washington (State) Society of CPAs to attend the AICPA governing council. I had a chance to meet with my representative, another representative’s office and my senator’s office today to discuss these issues with them and/or their staff. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the other senator from my state. The state society had the same view as you, in that it is important to start including accountants of my generation in the advocacy role, because these issues that are being introduced today will transform the profession for years, potentially decades, to come. The AICPA Governing Council has exposed me to numerous leaders in the accounting profession that serve as a great resource for the younger crowd to learn from. All it takes is the interest of young CPAs to become involved. It’s important now more than ever to have young CPAs step up to the challenge. Thank you for urging all young CPAs to contact their state society or nearest member on the governing council for more information.

“I found that for whatever reason, most state societies use their Council seats as ‘rewards’ for their (usually senior–both in experience and often age) members–so the ‘free’ attendance that Council members receive are not generally available to people our age. So I don’t blame most of the young CPAs, since without this free ticket, I wouldn’t be able to afford to attend this meeting either,” said Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, founder and director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies and the only young CPA we were able to track down at Council. Does that tell me that the system is rigged to keep middle-aged men in suits at the top of the food chain? No, it tells me that perks like comped trips to DC for Council are earned through demonstrated leadership, which is a commitment of both time and energy toward advancing the greater good of the profession.

As I said last week, if you are interested in legislative issues and want to get involved, you can start by contacting your state society of CPAs and checking out the AICPA Leadership Academy, which will be meeting in October in Durham, NC.

Here’s the bottom line: no one is going to approach you and ask if you want a free trip to our nation’s capital just because you have a pretty face (sorry, Joe Carey). You can position yourself as a leader by staying on top of important legislation that impacts the profession and even if you couldn’t make it to Council, there’s nothing keeping you from writing your Congressmen to share your feelings on this year’s key issues.