What We’re Reading – 5/24/2017

May 24, 2017By Elise MayBlog

This week’s recommended reading and listening on leadership, ethics, innovation, and persuasion. 


Innovation is one of many keys to success in any business, but its potential rests on how much that business is willing to embrace it. How much does your company value innovation? 



In this interview, Kim Scott, New York Times bestselling author of Radical Candor, discusses how to be a more honest leader. This podcast is hosted by author and future of work thought leader Jacob Morgan. 

How Radical Candor Can Make You A Better Leader at Work and in Life


Innovative workplace practices, such as flat hierarchies and virtual workspaces, are giving these CPAs cutting edge new ways to get the job done.



Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger is now known across the world as a hero for his incredible water landing on the Hudson River back in 2009. His actions are a case study in quick thinking and problem solving under pressure. This podcast explores his thinking process and examines how we can all benefit from having a similar mindset. 



History can be the future’s greatest teacher. Here are 4 lessons we can learned from some of history’s greatest innovators: 



“If accounting and finance leaders have not considered ways to establish an ethical culture in their company and ensure the interests of all stakeholders are properly aligned, the opportunity is here and the time is now.” Here are several proven ways for accountants to instill ethics in their companies.



According to a survey by EY, many companies’ workplace cultures fail to live up to ethical standards. This article highlights the findings of the survey. Are any of these findings relevant to your company?



At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals stay ahead of change and innovation. Look for our recommended reads on topics like critical thinking and non-technical skills, the future of work, innovation, talent management, leadership, and the changing role of the CPA each Wednesday.

Every Aspect of Life is About Choices, and Workplaces Can Help

May 22, 2017By Jennifer Briggs, CAEFuture of Work and Change Management

I get teased sometimes because I am not a fan of “women’s initiatives.” I always say that I AM a fan of “people initiatives” – ways to make work and life get along better. And I think the way to do this is different for different people at different times in their lives; not necessarily simply differentiated by gender. I know many people disagree with me, but I feel in small ways many well-meaning efforts to help women end up separating women into almost a different class of professional. I don’t mean you can’t highlight particular issues for women, but I think we need to be careful how we go about it. As an example, an idea I hear a lot is that we should all learn to “measure success differently.” This is usually in the context of “not everyone needs to be a partner or a CEO.” Which is fine. And completely true. Many fulfilling lives have been lived by people who were never partners or CEOs. But, when I hear this, it’s almost invariably used in relation to women. My thinking is simple – if this is good for women then it should be good for men as well. I think we all win when choices are open to those who need them and cultural norms allow for many options. (This culture bit is crucial.)

Last year, I asked a question at a conference of a professional I admire very much. This professional was describing the female CEO of a CPA firm as someone who has “lived work/life balance, raised a family, had a career and was very impressive.” That’s nice, right? Who doesn’t want to be considered very impressive? Awesome. But, the way the comment struck me was like this – “See, a woman can have it all! She did it. Isn’t it great?!” and so I asked about it. My question was – would you ever say “Joe is a great guy. He’s got three kids and a successful career. I don’t know how he does it. He’s really impressive.”? I never hear that. The response I received was thoughtful – he said statistically, the number of women in leadership roles in the CPA profession is not as high as it should be considering the number of women who enter the profession; he said citing examples is a good way to bring awareness to that issue.

I get that and appreciated his response. He made me consider my initial reaction. I couldn’t tell in the moment if I was alone on this or not. I was a little nervous about asking the question and not really paying attention to the audience reaction. But, people came up to me for next three days of the conference. They thanked me. They said I was brave. They fist-bumped me and they emailed me. Women with kids, women without kids, men with daughters, women older than me and younger me, and a couple of friends of mine who happen to be men who challenged my question. (I’m sure some women didn’t like it either, but they didn’t talk to me about it.) I was shocked. I didn’t think I was saying anything that others weren’t also thinking. It turns out that I wasn’t, but, I was the only one who said anything. I loved every conversation I had that week, especially with those who disagreed and provided other points of view. I loved the conversations because I think that’s how hard situations are figured out. Not by settling in and standing your ground no matter what, but by discussing what you think and hearing what others think. By understanding the unconscious-biases we all have and how to work through them instead of pretending they don’t exist.

Last year, during a one-week period I heard from three different young, male CPAs who were leaving three different public accounting firms because they wanted more time with their families. And just recently, the responses to a thread on vacations during busy season in the CPA Center of Excellence Open Forum makes me feel great that we are thinking and considering that there’s no single right way for everyone and that we can change how we think, or at least consider changing. Life, in every aspect is about choices. Our workplaces should make our choices about home life a little easier and the choices we make for our home lives (for women and men) should help enhance who we are in our careers.

What we say can make a difference in encouraging or discouraging someone – we should express our opinions, but we should also be open to hearing criticism. What do you think?

What We’re Reading – 5/17/2017

May 17, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog


This week’s recommended reading and listening on authenticity, leadership and education. 


“Many of us feel at times as if we are impersonating a leader rather than working out what it means to be ourselves in a position of leadership.” Learn how to go beyond imitation, and become a more authentic leader in your life with this article from strategy+business.com.



Sometimes, it’s the little things that end up making a big difference in the success of a leader. Here are 9 actions that all great leaders share in common:



In addition to what we’ve been reading, here’s what we’ve been listening to as well. In this podcast, INCPAS CEO Gary Bolinger and our very own Strategist Jess Halverson Bowyer discuss the importance of the changing nature of continuing education in the digital age.

Episode 26 – From Clock Hours to Competence in Life and Work


At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals stay ahead of change and innovation. Look for our recommended reads on topics like critical thinking and non-technical skills, the future of work, innovation, talent management, leadership, and the changing role of the CPA each Wednesday.

The Transition – What I’ve Learned in a Year

May 15, 2017By Rachel Smith, CPAChanging Role of the CPA

Last year, I made the transition from public accounting to private corporate accounting. The time has flown by since then and I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. Here are a few of them …

First, CPAs and other accountants work hard. Being in public accounting previously, I have to admit – I felt superior to my friends in private. I thought I worked harder or was somehow better than them. I’ve learned this year that’s not true! I’ve found private accounting to be just as intense and challenging as public. We may not have a tax season on this side, but we do have month ends and year end to keep us on our toes.

Second, we all know tax season is a beast – but it’s prepared me well. However, the work intensity, longevity and challenge had prepared me well to handle our month end close and get through year end. I have colleagues who started in private accounting right out of college, and some struggle with this. As for me, after getting through multiple tax seasons – I feel like I can do anything.

Third, community involvement and leadership are important. In public accounting, we are encouraged and sometimes required to serve in the community and take advantage of various leadership opportunities. Starting in public created a base for me to continue this with my lifelong career along with other CPAs. Although some are involved in private accounting, I don’t see an abundance of this. I am currently serving on the Indiana CPA Society’s Leadership Cabinet, which gives me the opportunity to be involved and connected with both sides of the profession – private and public. This piece of my career boasts my engagement and purpose.

Finally, one of the best decisions I ever made was becoming a CPA. This has remained true. Whether I’m in public or private, the opportunities for me as a CPA are amazing. So many doors have been opened. Being able to have continuing education throughout the year is an asset to my career. Being involved in the Indiana CPA Society and being connected to other individuals dedicated to ethics, growth and bringing value to clients and employers is wonderful. These relationships have profoundly impacted my career as a CPA.

Friends in public and private – what do you think? Have you ever had made the transition? What are some things you’ve learned? It’s been a fulfilling and exciting journey for me, and I look forward to seeing others share their experiences. Based on what I’ve experienced so far, I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

What We’re Reading – 5/10/2017

May 10, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog

This week’s recommended reading on technology, leadership, and relationship-building. 


Advances in machine learning and AI are leading to a situation where finance must embrace new technology. Although many CFOs have reservations on its use, automation could prove to be a valuable resource and help shift the CFO’s focus back to strategic thinking. 



Strategic relationships are a key to success in every business. Uber, Adidas, and Tesla have proven exemplary in these types of collaborations. How can your business benefit from building these types of mutually-beneficial relationships?



PwC is setting the example for trust-based leadership by using its diverse workforce to make a difference in the lives of its clients.  



At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals stay ahead of change and innovation. Look for our recommended reads on topics like critical thinking and non-technical skills, the future of work, innovation, talent management, leadership, and the changing role of the CPA each Wednesday.

Now is the time to be a CPA

May 8, 2017By Lisa Brown, CPA, CGMAInnovation, Technology

I’m a big fan of the TV show, Shark Tank, so I was curious when I came across Lindsay Patterson’s blog, “That Time I Told Mark Cuban He Was Wrong About the CPA Profession.“ Cuban was speaking at the SXSW Conference and Festival and stated, “we’ll see more technological advances over the next 10 years than we have over the last 30.”

In an effort to describe how technology will change the most desirable jobs and skill sets and how important critical thinking will be in the future, Cuban says, “I wouldn’t want to be a CPA right now. I wouldn’t want to be an accountant right now.” Lindsay not only had the opportunity to explain to the public how Cuban did not understand how the CPA profession is already embracing technology, but she was actually able to explain to Cuban, himself, how wrong he was about the CPA profession. She even has a picture to prove it!

There are so many ways technology is impacting the CPA profession that it is mind-boggling to reflect back on the days when creating a spreadsheet in Lotus 1-2-3 seemed like cutting edge technology. Patterson writes about how today’s technology automates many functions which now free CPAs to perform higher value services, services which require specialized knowledge and critical thinking skills. 

Blockchain, FinTech and Artificial Intelligence would have been considered science fiction not so long ago. In fact, I had not even heard of Blockchain and FinTech until fairly recently. Today, these are technologies in which the CPA profession is strategizing on how to incorporate and utilize. FinTech is an entire industry of technologies used and applied in (or disruptive to) the financial services sector. The March 2017 edition of CFO Magazine features the articles, “Betting on Blockchain” by Randy Myers and “How Auditing Will Incorporate AI” by Bill Brennan, Michael Baccala and Mike Flynn.

According to Meyers, blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that is shared by many users over a peer-to-peer computer network. Each “block” of data is built on the block that came before it, ensuring a complete, highly transparent, audit-able trail of information on an ever-growing blockchain that cannot be changed or altered. In 2016, venture capitalists funded $1 to $1.5 billion of capital into blockchain and bitcoin companies. A survey of 200 commercial and retail banks found that by 2018, nine out of 10 will have invested in blockchain solutions for deposit-taking. Other finance applications include elimination of reconciliation, streamlining of settlement activities, facilitating supply chain financing and optimizing and unlocking liquidity.

Brennan, Baccala and Flynn report that artificial intelligence can assist auditors by acquiring, processing and churning through the mountains of data that a business‘s financial reporting systems generate. AI can make it possible to move toward auditing 100% of data instead of sampling. This will allow auditors to study the totality of a business and provide assurance service through thoughtful examination and exercise of judgment, again the specialized knowledge and critical thinking skills possessed by CPAs.

I’m excited to learn more about these and other technologies and see how they’ll be utilized in the CPA profession in the future. Lindsay was right; Cuban was wrong. This is an incredibly exciting time to be a CPA!

What We’re Reading – May 3, 2017

May 2, 2017By Elise MayBlog

This week’s recommended readings on innovation, management, and communication.


Actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani discusses his transition between careers, risk-taking, and his thoughts on the phrase “grilled to perfection.”



Phil Libin, CEO and creator of Evernote turned venture capitalist, stresses not to just dream about an innovation, but instead to make it happen.



Communication is critical to the office environment, but is often overlooked. This article examines three signs of bad communication in the workplace. CPAs, how well does your work communication environment match these characteristics?



There is an increasing generation gap in the modern workforce, and CEOs have to adapt to managing five different generations of workers. How can today’s business leaders cope with this increasing generational diversity?



Facebook has a unique hiring process in looking for the perfect candidate. Our favorite part: recruiting for lifelong learners.



Want to learn more about digital and open badges from the educator’s perspective? Listen to this episode of the Moonshot Edu podcast from education disruptor Bernard Bull.

Episode 22 – What are Open Badges and Why Do They Matter?



The Future of Learning and Why You Should Care

May 2, 2017By Jennifer Briggs, CAEArticle, Learning and Career Development

Here at the CPA Center of Excellence and Indiana CPA Society, the driver behind our organization, we have been talking a lot about a competency-based approach to professional development, advocating for change to the CPE regulations and effective learning for CPAs, and the future of learning in a larger sense. Below is our quick guide to the future of professional development and learning.

In 2012 an Indiana CPA Society Board-level task force produced a white paper on the Future of Competency. In this paper we sought to look at the very broad world of education (K-12, higher education and continuing professional education) and consider trends and changes. As an association we need to ensure we’re meeting our members’ needs, and since CPE is such a big part of CPAs professional commitment, we wanted to know more about how education is evolving. After the work we did, we concluded that, well, there’s a lot more work to do.

Education is changing everywhere you go. In just a few minutes of conversation with any K-12 grade student you learn that online learning is so prevalent that some schools don’t even have snow days anymore — if it’s snowing, they just learn from home online. First-graders are being issued iPads. Hard copies of text books are a bit outdated. Smart boards are prevalent and flipped classrooms are the norm at one Indianapolis school. In the area of professional education, simulation and scenario-based learning is becoming more valuable. Some firms like Deloitte have gone to extensive measures creating entire campuses, like Deloitte University, with its enhanced learning and simulations that provide immediate feedback.

I had the privilege to be a member of the AICPA Future of Learning Task Force in 2013-14. I visited Harvard University and heard from their education experts, some from MIT and other nationally-recognized education innovators. I grew to understand our road to change was going to be hard, but that if we don’t start experimenting now, it will be even harder to catch up later. Even at these elite institutions, changing behaviors about learning wasn’t necessarily simple, but an ongoing process of trial and error. Despite that, it was evident the world isn’t going to become less complex anytime soon. With the chance to hear Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, speak about his mission to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere,” I better understood how technology is changing how we learn. It’s not about webinars. It’s about the accessibility of education — to anyone, anywhere. What does this mean for how we value and measure education as an organization at large, and for the CPA profession?


1. THE YOUNG PEOPLE YOU HIRE WILL BE INCREASINGLY DISINTERESTED IN SITTING in a classroom for eight hours at a time to earn CPE. And it’s not about moving it online. Sitting at a computer and staring at a screen with little interaction might be even less tolerable. The type of education you offer may be a differentiator for young people when choosing an employer. They are going to look for hands-on learning and real life scenarios in a way we haven’t seen before.

2. THE WAY YOU UNDERSTAND SOMEONE’S EDUCATION IS GOING TO CHANGE. Learning is accessible in so many ways, and with the complexity of our day-to-day workloads, we’ll be looking for people who can get the job done — not necessarily people with a specific GPA or a degree that took X number of years to attain. What do they know and how will you know they know it? We will begin to look to things like digital badges to tell us where someone has an expertise. Or, which MOOC’s did someone participate in and finish?

3. YOU, OR YOUR ORGANIZATION, SPEND A LOT OF TIME AND MONEY ON CONTINUING EDUCATION per regulatory requirements to meet an arbitrary number of hours to say you’ve maintained your competency as a CPA. Are you always getting bang for your buck in the current hours-based system? Does learning really only happen if it’s done in 50-minute increments? Or, is learning continuous and can it be earned and documented in different ways? Education is a critical area for the CPA profession. For the reasons stated, and many others, the CPA Center of Excellence and the Indiana CPA Society continue to ask questions and study the future of learning and competency.


Massive Open Online Courses are generally free and provide online, interactive learning. Courses typically have unlimited participation. EdX is one of the more prominent providers with universities like UC Berkeley, Harvard and MIT offering courses this way. Generally no official credit is offered; the learner is recognized for completing the course and learning the content.

Flipped Classroom
A form of learning where the “lecture” part is typically viewed online before a class and class time is used for collaboration, in-depth discussion or working on actual problems. It’s basically flipping the lecture and homework. The homework is done with the instructor so the student can ask specific questions or talk with others as needed to gain better insight and a better understanding of the content.

Digital Badges
Digital badges are an assessment and credentialing mechanism that is housed and managed online. Badges are designed to validate learning, and hold the potential to transform where and how learning is valued. They help demonstrate skills learned either online or in person. They are characterized by a symbol of some kind (a badge) that is digital and is coded to show whomever clicks on it, the skills, experiences, etc., achieved by the learner.

Launched in 1998, Mozilla is a community of technologists working to make the Internet accessible to all and to promote innovation. One of the group’s project is Mozilla Backpack. Available at backpack.openbadges.org, the backpack is like a locker you had in school or a network drive on your computer. It’s simply a place you can store your digital badges, making it easier to share them online via social media or your LinkedIn profile. Read the last page in our online courses guide for a brief tutorial on uploading your digital badges to Mozilla Backpack.

Sal Khan/Khan Academy
Through Khan Academy, students can make use of a library of content, including interactive challenges, assessments, and videos from any computer with access to the web. Sal Khan’s speech about his mission received a standing ovation at the October 2013 AICPA Council meeting in Los Angeles.

Future of Competency
A 2012-13 INCPAS task force that focused on the identification (plan), acquisition (education), and demonstration (experience) of behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for successful performance as a professional. Learning is one part of the future of competency. Read their report.

Future of Learning Task Force
A 2013-14 AICPA task force explored a new vision, developed by the task force, to reinvent lifelong learning and competency in the CPA profession. The task force research resulted in an extensive report.

Smart Board
The Smart Board is an interactive whiteboard that uses touch detection for user input (for example, scrolling and right mouse-click) in the same way as normal PC input devices.

Competency-based Learning
Learning formats that allow students flexibility to learn where and when they want to and to demonstrate mastery of content vs. completing a specific semester, or hours-based system. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education had several experimental sites allowing universities to try this approach without losing federal-aid eligibility. This is the type of education we advocate at the CPA Center of Excellence.






Embrace Change – Don’t Fight It!

May 1, 2017By Jenny Norris, CPA, CGMAFuture of Work and Change Management

Change is everywhere in business today. It is rare for any business process or product to remain the same for any length of time, but this is particularly true of technology where things are always evolving at a rapid pace.

Like most companies, here at the CPA Center of Excellence we are evaluating technology, upgrading software, moving to the cloud, and trying to increase efficiency and flexibility. Not to mention hopefully saving some money along the way, too. We’re having some success, but there have also been challenges along the way.
But, as we go through these changes, whether it is something like moving to Office 365 and constantly being on the latest version of Microsoft Office products, or moving our file server to the cloud, these transitions mean things don’t work like they used to, or there is new functionality, or my screen looks totally different when I log into a program.

It’s easy to sit around and gripe about changing, but instead of grumbling, we should be looking at how these updates can make our lives easier. I want to encourage you to not get caught up in complaining about how things don’t work the old way, but look at this change as an opportunity to reevaluate processes and procedures. Maybe there are efficiencies that can be gained through the upgrade? Also, use the changes as an opportunity to help your co-workers.

As you figure out a new process, don’t hoard that information; share it with your co-workers. If everyone shares their ideas of how to use the new technologies in new ways, it will make the change a lot less painful, and in the end, it could actually help make you a stronger team.

What opportunities and challenges have you encountered with regard to changes at your company, specifically with technology? Do you have a culture that embraces change, or have you had to work at it? Have there been programs put in place for training and education?

Share some of your experiences and best practices for change, technology or otherwise, and how that change made your organization more effective and efficient. Have these changes helped you better respond to your clients or employers needs? Have they helped with staff morale and productivity?

But remember, don’t get too comfortable with the most recent changes, because more changes are sure to be on the way!

What We’re Reading – 4/26/2017

April 26, 2017By Elise MayBlog

This week’s latest recommended reading on communication, leadership, and innovation.


While communication transparency is important in the workplace, it can also lead to trust issues with superiors. Read on to see how these implications could affect your business: 



Technology is one of the primary drivers of innovation. Here’s the latest report from Deloitte highlighting the most recent technology trends set to revolutionize the business landscape for 2017. 



Today’s most successful companies are often the most innovative. Innovation and success are linked, and its important to learn from the best. Here are their habits: 



We all are aware of the bad reputation United Airlines has created for itself over the past several weeks. In crisis situations like these for a company, its leaders must do as much as they can to guide it back on track. Here are five leadership takeaways: