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How One CPA Got the Chance to Edit the Journal of Accountancy

Lindsay StevensonHave you ever wanted to try something completely opposite from your everyday norm? Maybe BASE jumping from a mountain or zip-lining through the jungle? For me, writing and journalism have always been that out-of-the-ordinary experience that would be radically different from my everyday CPA-related work. (Don’t judge; it can be as exciting as BASE jumping in some circles!)

So when the team at the AICPA’s Journal of Accountancy (JofA) reached out and asked me to join a small group of young CPAs to guest edit the May 2017 issue, I jumped at the chance.

It started with a video call to meet the team that would put together a top-notch (and I am definitely biased here) issue. During the call it became pretty evident that our group had many ideas and that being a guest editor was going to be about a lot more than redlining some articles. We discovered that our job included developing a theme for the issue, determining content that would carry the theme, and helping to choose a cover design. Not as easy as it sounds.

After a lot of emails and a few more calls, we settled on culture and retention for a theme. It was by far my favorite of all the topics we discussed. In today’s CPA world, we are constantly trying to identify what the profession will look like in the future and how we can start working today to prepare for what comes next. Culture and retention should be part of that discussion.

Once we chose the theme, we were excited to start identifying articles and other content that aligned with providing resources, best practices, new insights and relevant information to JofA readers. Although I LOVE all the content we brainstormed, my favorite article is one dealing with culture as a component of retention, “Rethinking Retention.” Getting insights from experts outside the CPA profession—like Chason Hecht, CEO of Retensa, who was interviewed for this article—on how we can leverage this opportunity to build our long-term talent strategies is exciting to me and the article does just that.

CPAs from across the country also contributed to “Innovation Showcase,” an article sharing innovative cultural initiatives that firms and organizations believe contribute to long-term retention. And to top it all off, our team contributed to “Checklist: Be Your Own Best Ally,” about promoting your value as a CPA.

While there was some work involved in bringing together a cohesive issue, it was one of my favorite projects this year. I was given the chance to work with innovative CPAs, some of the profession’s best writers and editors, and to provide my own insights throughout the process.

What really blew me away was the amount of effort that goes into producing each issue. It isn’t just about content and themes; it’s about creating an experience for readers that engages them enough to stop their daily routines and absorb new input. It made me feel like we were part of a ripple that could have a real impact on the future of the profession by providing original and relevant material. That is a whole lot more than the collection of articles I expected to edit before that first call.

If you get the chance to do something out of the ordinary, take it. I promise it will be well worth your time and the experience will stay with you long after the ink dries.

Lindsay Stevenson, CPA, CGMA is the VP-Finance at 1st Financial Bank in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota and is a graduate of the AICPA Leadership Academy

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