What We’re Reading – 4/19/17

April 19, 2017By Jess Halverson BowyerUncategorized

This week’s recommended reading on technology, innovation and strategic succession planning:

Wondering how AI will affect business? Learn from those who are already using it: http://bit.ly/2pChQdy

Need some innovation inspiration? Read this article from FastCompany: You don’t have to be born with it, but there are things you can do to help your brain to think of: https://www.fastcompany.com/40405480/how-to-train-your-brain-to-be-more-innovative

Great successors need to be found and nurtured. Here’s one take on bringing strategic thinking into your succession planning: https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Strategy-Talk-How-Do-I-Build-a-Strong-Pipeline-of-Future-Leaders

Here’s one way to implement the opportunities available from automation (instead of fearing the risks): http://cpatrendlines.com/2017/04/07/patil-dragon/comment-page-1/

At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals with stay ahead of change and in front of 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 Impact of Millenials

April 10, 2017By Dave Shatkowski - VP of Communications at Indiana CPA SocietyArticle, Blog, Future of Work and Change Management, Talent Management and People

We’ve been hearing and talking about the millennials a lot, but what does it all mean? To the profession, to your business, to you?

The millennial generation, over 75 million strong, is transforming the workforce and the workplace. Already they make up more than one third of the workforce in the United States, and that number is growing every year.

A post by Justin Hayes on our other blog site, The Smoke Detector, examined what not to say to millennials. Things like “be patient,” “you’re not ready,” “that’s not how it was” and “you’re not working if you’re not here (in the office)” are all things that we have heard before or maybe even said ourselves. But they are not things that resonate with millennials.

I’m a lot older than Justin, but I thought his observations were right on target. Continue saying those things to millennials, and risk losing them. You might lose them to a competitor. We might lose them to another association. Or we all might lose them to another profession.

Millennials want change. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you have too. They want things like flexibility, recognition, inclusion and innovation. An article in Fortune magazine stated “certainly, it’s better to directly address the needs and understand the characteristics of the millennial generation than to pretend they don’t exist.” Are employers doing that? 

Though there are stereotypes surrounding millennials, many if not most are either untrue or misunderstood. And in the end, the changes that result in responding to their needs can benefit all. The Forbes article concludes, “in focusing on the needs of the next generation, these companies are creating a better place to work for everyone.”

Alternative credentialing such as digital badges and verified certificates is one area where we can make an impression on millennials. You (as CPAs) by understanding them and accepting their value, and we (as a CPA-supporting organization) by offering them. 

Millennials are receiving alternative credentials at colleges and universities across the nation, according to findings from a recent study by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. Then they expect them post-graduation as well. One of the experts who conducted the survey said “what was previously thought as cutting edge is now becoming mainstream and is transforming the paths that learners take to success.”

More than 20 percent of U.S. colleges and universities are currently offering digital badges, and the state of Indiana is well represented by IU, Purdue and Notre Dame. After graduation, millennials will look to their profession and their association for their professional development needs. And their alternative credentialing preferences.

Like the changes in workplace culture and environments, other generations are likely to adapt to and appreciate alternative credentials. Let’s be a part of that change in ongoing professional development and lifelong learning.

What We’re Reading – 4/5/2017

April 5, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog

This week’s recommended reading on innovation, leadership, recruitment, and entrepreneurship. 

For any business to be successful, having a great workplace culture is essential. One key area for culture lies with a strong emphasis on innovation and creativity. CPAs, how can your workplace environment help foster these values?



John Minnich discusses his role as the CFO at the Concordia Educational Association, and how his CPA designation helped him play as both a leader and trusted business advisor. What are some roles your CPA designation makes YOU?



During Tax Season, CPAs need to be ready for any challenge that comes their way. Read on to find out how you can be prepared:



CPAs, are you making sure that new hires have the right “soft skills” to succeed in the workplace?



Strategic thinkers add tremendous value to any company or organization. Here are a few ways to find out if any of your job candidates have these qualities:



As CPAs, we have a lot to learn from entrepreneurs. How can we adopt some of their qualities into our own professional development?




At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals with stay ahead of change and in front of 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 War for Talent

April 4, 2017By Stephanie Parton, CAE, INCPAS Director – Marketing CommunicationsArticle, Blog, Innovation, Talent Management and People


Across the country, high school seniors are donning caps and gowns for graduation. Many will head off to college in the fall, full of hope for a bright future. Through the help of family, teachers and counselors, they have decided on a major which will determine the career they will enter into for the rest of their professional life.

Pretty simple, right?

Not so fast. Landing your dream job right out of college and sticking with it throughout your career is a thing of the past.

Only 14 percent of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job and more than half want to change careers, according to a 2013 Harris Poll.

Making the Career Change

Deciding to make a career change is a huge decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many risks to consider including the cost of going back to school, juggling a full-time job, and maintaining work-life balance while pursuing a new degree and career.

Robert Reynolds, CPA, CGMA, made a career switch in his early 30s. He went from manager of a convenience store to director and shareholder with Brady Ware.

“I finally found my calling, public accounting, at the tender age of 31,” Reynolds explained. “After obtaining my associate degree in business administration, I embarked on my journey to real adulthood as a mid-level manager for Stop-N-Go. Needless to say, the 24/7 retail environment lost its appeal after a few years, and in my late 20s, I found myself still struggling to determine just what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“A wise person I knew at the time spoke of the career opportunities available in accounting, and since I enjoyed working with numbers, I enrolled at Wright State University in the fall of 1985 as an accounting major and the rest is history,” he added. IU Health Ball Memorial Director of Finance Bettie Caldwell CPA, CGMA, also made the career change switch after reflecting on her long-term goals.

“I was a mid-life career–changer, having worked as a registered respiratory therapist in the hospital setting for over 15 years,” said Caldwell. “A family move to a new job market prompted me to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my remaining 25 plus years of work life. I was primed for a challenge and a change, and found what I was looking for in the CPA profession. Eventually my career as a CPA led me full circle back to the healthcare setting, but this time as a director of finance for a large hospital system.”

“I was primed for a challenge and a change, and found what I was looking for in the CPA profession,” Bettie Caldwell, CPA, CGMA, a mid-life career changer.

Desire for Change

While not everyone who wants to change careers will actually make the decision to go through with a switch, a significant portion of the American workforce would like to do so.

Nearly 80 percent of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64 percent of 30-somethings and 54 percent in their 40s according to the Harris Poll.

“I just wasn’t thinking long-term about my career,” explains Mary Milner, staff accountant at Baden Gage & Schroeder LLC. “I didn’t really know myself well enough at age 19 to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I got a job in the real estate industry. I did leasing and a little bit of sales and customer service, putting out fires, conflict resolution. It was great experience and I did that for seven or eight years.

“There were a lot of things about it that I enjoyed but it just wasn’t where I wanted to be for my career,” she continued. “After a while I started doing some soul-searching. I found that all the things I enjoyed doing in real estate had to do with accounting. That was kind of my light bulb that maybe I should be doing this.”

Milner recognized her decision to go back to school and pursue an accounting degree was a risk.

“It was a big risk to say OK, I’m going to go back to school, I’m going to take out more student loans,” she said. Milner said she decided to make the commitment and take the risk knowing it would pay off in the long run. Quitting was not an option for her.

“It’s a whole different experience trying to go to school when you already have a full time job and I was starting a family,” she said. “And it leaves no time for anything because every free moment is spent studying. Looking for a job was probably the scariest part. I was unsure how to navigate that more so than just deciding to go back to school. It was almost a full time job looking for a full time job.”

Enter the CPA Profession

INCPAS President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE wrote about career changers entering the CPA profession in a post “The ‘War’ for Talent” on the Society’s blog I Was Just Thinkin’.

“Career changers are going to end up somewhere in the workforce,” Bolinger wrote. “It might as well be the CPA profession. A lot of these people have got the perspective and talent to be significant contributors in the profession. If we want to leverage this trend, the profession (which includes firms, corporate accounting departments, colleges and universities, and accounting associations and societies that serve the profession) needs to reassess recruitment. Are we willing to accept the need to aggressively recruit talent in places that we have never looked before? The places to start are the ‘career changer’ marketplace and the non-traditional student marketplace.”

Nontraditional Students

There are more than 17.6 million undergraduates enrolled in American higher education. The National Center for Education Statistics reports 38 percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 30. The share of all students who are over age 25 is projected to increase another 23 percent by 2019.
“More seasoned candidates can bring a perspective on business and the role of being a professional to an organization that rests on a foundation built through real life and work experiences,” says Reynolds. “All I can say is at 31, I know I was a much better listener than I was at 21. At 31, I was more patient than I was at 21. I certainly was more thoughtful and empathetic at 31, than 21. I feel these traits and my journey not only allowed me to advance my career, but they contributed greatly in helping me become a trusted advisor to clients.”

Purdue University Northwest Department of Accounting Head Ed Furticella says nontraditional students are faced with challenges traditional students might not face.
“The speed of the course work can also be challenging for the nontraditional students,” he said. “Especially the students who are balancing work and family commitments. They are worried about balancing work, life and school. They worry about getting behind in class and typically, these are the students that will drop a class if they don’t think they’re doing well.”
Once Milner made the commitment to go back to school for her accounting degree, her concern shifted to what would happen after graduation.

“I was afraid as a job candidate that the people interviewing me would have concerns about it,” said Milner. “I was afraid they would have concerns and say ‘why did you go back to school, why are you at this age and you’re just starting out, why did you go to school online.’ What I found was that I had more anxiety about it than they did. They just wanted to understand. They wanted to know my story. I was afraid it was going to be a problem and it wasn’t.

“I think the first step begins with the people in charge of hiring having an open mind and seeing the value people can bring when they’ve had different experiences,” Milner continued. “When they look at a résumé, if they’ve been in a different profession, don’t automatically discount them. I think I got lucky here that’s what Baden Gage did. They didn’t discount me because I didn’t have accounting experience.”

Bold Challenge

One of the four “bold challenges” created by the Indiana CPA Society Board of Directors is to “Build bridges to the profession …” and one of the bridges must be the bridge for nontraditional students.

“We tend to focus our energies on current high school and traditional college students as potential future CPAs,” said Caldwell. “We value the longevity and new ideas that youth brings with it, but more mature candidates have their own advantages. When I returned to the hospital as a CPA, I brought with me my previous work experience and understanding of how a hospital operates, as well as the appreciation for the hospital culture and our ‘patients first’ focus.” The Society is working on reaching nontraditional students and encouraging them to pursue a new career in the CPA profession.

“Nearly every day I receive a phone call from a person considering a career change or wanting more information about the CPA designation, specifically the process applying and sitting for the CPA Exam,”said INCPAS Director — Diversity & Outreach Ali Paul. “They are often relieved to learn that depending on their previous college education, only a handful of additional classes may be needed to meet the 150-hour requirement in Indiana.”

The Society’s Diversity Advisory Council is developing a new toolkit to help career changers and nontraditional students better navigate the pathways to becoming CPAs. The goal is to help make the process as clear as possible and give candidates a better idea of what they can expect as they enter this profession. Career changers bring so much experience to the table and when you think about the core competencies of a CPA (Communications, Leadership, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Anticipating and Serving Evolving Needs, Synthesizing Intelligence to Insight, Integration and Collaboration) these are skills that career changers have been developing for years, allowing them to really hit the ground running upon entering the CPA profession.

Do You Know How Blockchain is Changing Business?

April 3, 2017By Jason Bainter, CPABlog, Changing Role of the CPA, Innovation, Technology

If you don’t know what blockchain is, you should because it is going to change the way all businesses transact financial information in the future.

Blockchain is widely known as the technology that underpins bitcoin, but it is a lot more than just bitcoin. Blockchain is the technology that backs distributed ledger technology, which is a trusted way to track the ownership of assets without the need for a central authority. As a result, it could speed up transactions and cut costs while lowering the chance of fraud, according to an article in CIO Journal.

Per Business Insider, blockchains are basically ledgers that accept inputs from a host of different parties. The ledgers can only be changed if all parties consent. These ledgers can be shared publicly. They are housed on servers, or nodes, which maintain the entries (known as blocks) and every node sees the transaction data stored in the blocks when created. Since these blocks are publicly shared, there is no central authority to approve the transactions. The ledgers and underlying databases are immutable and irreversible. The date can’t be revised or tampered with even by database operators. The distributed nature of the network requires that the computer servers reach a consensus, which allows for transactions to occur between unknown parties. The software behind blockchain is written so that no conflicting or double transactions can be written in the data set and thus, transactions can occur automatically.

So what does all of this mean? In basic terms, let’s take a personal transaction and break it down. Let’s say that you have a child in daycare and every week, you have to pay the daycare for the services they provide. You write a check and update your checkbook ledger, or do you? The daycare provider deposits the check and updates their checkbook ledger. But things could go wrong. Although you wrote the check, you just picked your child up and they are excited to see you and tell you about their day. So you go off to hear about their day, but wait, you forgot to update your check register for that check you just wrote. And your bank doesn’t know immediately upon you writing that check if you have enough funds in the account to cover that check.

With blockchain, instead of two separate checkbook registers with debits and credits, both you and the daycare would both be looking at the same ledger of transactions. It’s private (encrypted) and decentralized, so neither one of you control the ledger. Since the ledger is decentralized, you both can look at the ledger and each transaction is put into a “block.” Then if you and the daycare provider validate that block of information, it’s added to a chain. That chain is then protected by a sophisticated cryptography, and no one can change the chain after it is created. In this way, you know how much is left in your bank account and your bank immediately knows if there are funds in your account to cover the check. The transaction is instantaneous and there is no more “float.” Also, because of these chains, there is no longer any additional work on the daycare provider’s part on having to issue year-end statements for taxes because you would now have the availability to look at the chain to see your annual payments. Do you think this would assist in year-end tax planning?

Although blockchain is in its infancy, it is quickly gathering speed among financial institutions, trading companies and the health care industry. There are still challenges to overcome such as regulation, cost and security issues. However, financial institutions are big proponents of moving this forward as they see this as a huge cost cutting method by removing back office staff that have to approve trades and transfers.

As this system develops, clients are going to be utilizing these blockchains, and CPAs must keep up-to-date on this technology in order to audit the system. However, based on the premise of this technology, our audit procedures could be reduced or eliminated because there really would no longer be a reason to confirm A/R, contracts or bank accounts. That would all be within the chain of transactions validated by each party.

How do you think your clients could benefit from this technology?

What We’re Reading – 3/29/2017

March 29, 2017By Elise MayArticle, Blog

This week’s recommended reading on innovation, change management and creativity. 

“A Quiet Revolution” by INCPAS President and CEO, Gary Bolinger, CAE, discusses the current revolution in professional development for CPAs:

A Quiet Revolution


As CPAs, how can we address potential new trends and changes in our own workplaces? Read on to see if any of this year’s trends might be affecting YOU:

Trends Shaping the Global Workplace in 2017


The way forward for any profession lies in innovation. However, in order to address the future, it is important to find guidance from the past. This article explains the importance that history serves in guiding our future. How can CPAs apply this to their own career? 



We live in an increasingly chaotic world. How can we respond to the crises presented to us throughout our professional lives? Be confident in your ability to handle problems that arise, and read on to discover how this might very well benefit you:



Think you can’t use creativity in a business setting if you aren’t “born with it?” Try again:

Born creative? No. Way.

At the CPA Center of Excellence®, we help CPAs and service professionals with stay ahead of change and in front of 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.

Indiana University East Implements CPA Center of Excellence® Ethics Course Into Curriculum

March 1, 2017By CPA Center of Excellence® NewsroomNews

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana University East in Richmond, Ind., has partnered with the CPA Center of Excellence® to add its online competency-based ethics course to its current accounting curriculum. This is the first time the course, developed by the CPA Center of Excellence® in 2016, has been utilized in higher education. CPAs in Indiana have been taking the course since last fall following a rule change signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence that enables a competency-based course to meet the ethics requirement for CPA license renewal.

Roger Crane, CPA, director for IU East’s accounting program, championed the decision to include it as part of the program’s curriculum. “We wanted to incorporate an ethics course already used by CPAs so our accounting ethics course is the best it could be,” said Crane. “Anything we can do to get students more real-world exposure to accounting ethics will help them understand and be prepared for ethical situations once they graduate and begin a career.”

Professor Shari Fowler, CPA and instructor for IU East’s accounting program, was also in favor of utilizing the course.

“It is my hope that the addition of the CPA Center of Excellence®’s ethics course will provide a dynamic learning experience for students where they will see how the concepts that we learned from the text are applied in the accounting profession,” said Fowler.

She believes that including the ethics course into IU East’s existing accounting program will serve as a great tool to get students excited about their post-graduation continuing education needs and opportunities.

“I have found that students are always enthusiastic when they are presented with new learning activities in their classes,” Fowler said. “The ethics course is in a format and structure that they have not worked with before, so I anticipate they will be intrigued by this new addition.”

The course is currently being implemented this semester and will be taken by all accounting students during their spring semester before graduation as part of IU East’s accounting program’s capstone Accounting Ethics and Professional Development course.

The CPA Center of Excellence® hopes to use the IU East partnership as a model to encourage other colleges and regional campuses in Indiana to incorporate the ethics course or other competency-based courses into their curriculums. The additional six courses currently offered by the CPA Center of Excellence® cover vital business or “soft” skills needed by current and future professionals.

The course is the first of its kind, based on the profession’s Code of Professional Conduct, with its launch in October 2016 coinciding with the new rule that added two new options for ethics education. Its interactive, online format includes links to online articles, case studies, video components, real-time discussion with other course participants, and other participatory features within each of its various modules.

CPA Center of Excellence® Receives Association Honor for eLearning & Live Training

February 27, 2017By CPA Center of Excellence® NewsroomNews

Indianapolis, IN – The CPA Center of Excellence® was presented with the Silver Award for “eLearning and Live Training” by Association Trends at a ceremony on February, 23, in Washington, D.C. Association Trends, a provider of news and information for association leaders, annually recognizes association excellence across the country through its TRENDS All Media Contest.

The award-winning CPA Center of Excellence® is a wholly-owned subsidiary of INCPAS, established in 2014 to enhance business skills vital to the success of CPAs and other professionals. The components recognized by this award include:

These courses are designed to cultivate the “soft skills” that ultimately are what will help CPAs and other professionals succeed throughout their career by going beyond mere technical knowledge: Communication, Critical Thinking, Decision-Making, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Networking & Collaboration. These online course modules are designed for CPAs and other professionals to take them whenever it’s convenient, and their progress in completing the course is saved as they start and stop at various points. Upon successful completion, a digital badge is awarded.

Competency-Based Ethics Course

The launch of this first-of-its-kind online competency-based course on ethics coincided with the effective date of a landmark rule change that made Indiana CPAs the first CPAs in the nation to be able to take competency-based education as one of three options to meet the ethics requirement for CPA license renewal. The course format is similar to the CPA Center of Excellence®’s other online courses and features interactive content.

Talent Academy

CPA partners, CFOs or those involved in HR often report that they are struggling with recruiting and retaining top talent. To help these companies focus on retention strategies that are innovative, relevant and manageable, the CPA Center of Excellence® hosted a new, live five-day Talent Academy in Indianapolis. The instructor was internationally-recognized thought leader in talent management and knowledge sharing David Griffiths, Ph.D., of Wales who co-authored an award-winning practice management case study based on his prior work with an Indiana CPA firm.

Competency-Based Education Gaining Momentum; Supported by Indiana CPA Society

February 8, 2017By CPA Center of Excellence® NewsroomNews

The movement toward a new learning model for professionals in the state of Indiana continues to gain momentum. Today, draft enabling legislation supported by the Indiana CPA Society, the statewide professional association for CPAs, was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly as HB 1467. It has the potential to add competency-based education to the current hours-based education model for CPA license renewal in Indiana.

The bill was authored by Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne) and co-authored by Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson), and was assigned to the Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo).

Its purpose is to give CPAs the ability to take only competency-based education, or a combination of competency-based and hours-based education, to satisfy the educational requirements for CPA license renewal. CPAs in Indiana must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years as part of a system created to maintain professional competency that has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 50 years.

The General Assembly will be considering competency-based options for both professionals and students this session. The draft legislation for CPAs coincides with draft legislation for K-12 education that also calls for competency-based learning.

“We believe that this is the ‘next step’ toward significant reform of the requirements for CPA license renewal in Indiana,” said INCPAS President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE. “This draft, if enacted, will provide Indiana CPAs with additional flexibility in learning options to renew their Indiana CPA license. It would give the Indiana Board of Accountancy the opportunity to explore this new learning alternative beyond traditional continuing professional education. Competency-based education has been proven to be a much more effective method of learning.”

Competency-based education is a method of education that has checks in place to measure that a certain competency level in the course material is attained. Hours-based education only counts time spent in a classroom with no proof of subject matter learned. In 2016, the Society was instrumental in expanding the ethics education requirement for CPAs to include a competency-based course or experience serving in an ethics capacity (an hours-based course remains as a third option). That rule change was approved by the Board of Accountancy in July and signed by Gov. Mike Pence in September. Additionally, a pilot program was adopted by the Board of Accountancy in 2014 to allow for up to two competency-based courses to count toward a waiver of up to 16 hours of education. That pilot program remains in effect.

The ethics rule change made Indiana the first state in the nation to allow competency-based education to officially count toward CPA license renewal. Now, this draft legislation is the first of its kind for the CPA profession in any state. It would give the Board of Accountancy the flexibility to set any amount of competency-based education, up to the full equivalent of 120 hours, to meet the professional education requirement. The draft legislation also includes a section that would require the submission and approval of a learning plan prior to participating in competency-based education.

“The Indiana CPA Society is the recognized leader in advocating for competency-based education for CPAs, and other professionals as well,” said John Sauder, CPA, CGMA, of Carmel, Ind., INCPAS chairman of the board. “This legislation could have a widespread impact throughout the United States, and begin a transformation of the profession’s education system that is long overdue for a major overhaul. Hours-based education simply does not meet the needs of today’s CPAs, and by extension, their clients and employers.”

The CPA profession in the United States is regulated on a state-by-state basis, but a major development such as this in any one state has the potential to have a carry-over effect to many other states. Nationally, the American Institute of CPAs’ Future of Learning Task Force recommended sweeping change to the professional development model in a report published in 2014. Competency-based education was a major aspect of the recommendations and concepts outlined in the report.

The Indiana CPA Society is poised to help facilitate competency-based learning in Indiana and beyond. The CPA Center of Excellence®, established in 2014 and powered by the Society, already offers online competency-based course modules in six vital business skills as well as a competency-based ethics course. Additional courses on other non-technical and technical topics could be developed over the next several years.

#10: Never Stop Learning

January 17, 2017By Jess Halverson BowyerBlog, Future of Work and Change Management, Learning and Career Development

Resolve to be a lifelong learner

Books are my great love, and my great compulsion. I browse bookstores and libraries to relax, clinging to the little shots of adrenaline I get discovering new stories and new ideas from the thoughtfully crafted end caps and table displays. Each new volume represents hope – optimism – unlimited possibility – delivered by new ideas from the words on the page.

Discovering new ideas brings depth and meaning to my life. This passion for learning has also been a great benefit to me professionally – and this is what we hope you get from our resolution blog series: 10 ideas or goals for the new year to bolster your career.

Luckily, I win. Everything we’ve written about this week can be tied to the resolution I chose to write about: Never Stop Learning.

No matter what you choose to focus on this year, the act of career improvement is lifelong learning. Changing your organization’s annual performance review policy requires you to learn. Improving your leadership, decision-making, communication and other non-technical skills is a form of learning that also requires you to think differently and be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. To make this type of learning happen, you must plan for it. To improve your interactions with other generations you must learn about them. Being open to a new method of working, like collaboration, allows you to learn from others. Lastly, innovation takes everything you’ve learned and feeds it into the basis of new ideas.

If you sincerely commit (or recommit) yourself to lifelong learning, there are no losses. No matter what you do, from first year public accounting to acting CFO of an international company, learning goes with you, it grows with you, and it will always give you an advantage — especially in today’s increasingly complex and global environment.

In a knowledge economy, your competitive edge comes from what you know or your ability and willingness to learn.

Now, I realize that some of you may be thinking, yea no kidding. It’s not a revelation that you must learn and adapt to be successful. Yet, this doesn’t mean we do our best — willingly or less so — to make time for deep learning. Day-to-day tasks, urgencies, emails, meetings and everything else involved with actually doing the work required for your career often pushes active learning aside. Truly becoming a lifelong learner requires incorporating the act of learning into your routines, your daily schedule, your calendar and your priorities. But often we don’t take the action to plan learning, as most of us operate under some modicum of curiosity and assume absorbing the knowledge we need is something that will just happen.

To truly be competitive in this knowledge economy, we must take an active, not passive, role in our own learning and develop a practice of learning.

That is my challenge to you this year – if you do nothing else, take an active role in your own learning, no matter what it is you need to know. And please forgive me for ending on an overused quote, because there is no better way to say it: knowledge is power.

If you need me, I’ll be over here, with the pile of books made from real paper.

Jess Halverson Bowyer is the strategist at the CPA Center of Excellence® and has worked for the Indiana CPA Society for six years. With a background in communications, design and visual thinking as well as a passion for learning, she has a hand in all things CPA Center of Excellence®, from strategic planning to learning design to hosting presentations and webinars.