« KC Chiefs’ CFO Has a Winning Game Plan for Management Accounting | Main | Increase in IRS Audits – A Positive Trend? »

Stop the Mad Dash, Create Your Future

CPA-career-developmentCPAs are no strangers to life-long learning. In fact, life-long learning is as fundamental of a core competency for CPAs as integrity, independence and objectivity.

This country has hundreds of thousands of CPAs who every day commit themselves to professional development and improving their professional competency. However, when a CPE reporting deadline approaches, you will find CPAs everywhere scrambling to fulfill their compliance requirements.

Your professional development is important, so make it a priority and put an end to the mad dash. Start by asking yourself the following questions to begin creating a plan.

What would I like to learn about? Start with the blue sky. Maybe it has nothing to do with your day job. Open your mind to new opportunities. For me, I’d like to better understand conflict minerals, dive deeper into global contract law and brush up on Excel. Only one of those might be considered appropriate for my current position, but arguably, the combination of learning will make me a well-rounded and engaged professional.

What’s required? Compliance exists for a reason, so make the most of it. Instead of taking the same courses, the same way you always have, try a new title, instructor or delivery format.

What do I dream of? Follow your passion. Even if it has nothing to do with your career, because the more fulfilled your life is, the more focused and enhanced your performance will be at work. I have one colleague who is a novelist and another colleague who makes incredible greeting cards. Pursuing these passions doesn’t distract them from their AICPA work, it focuses it.

What makes sense strategically? Historically in the CPA profession, career paths were considered quite linear. Understanding a linear progression is pretty easy. But what if you want to take a left turn? You’re a tax accountant who wants to become involved in forensics; or you’re an audit supervisor who’d really rather be a CFO.  What steps do you need to take to get there? Look for relevant training and networking opportunities that can set you in the right direction. Make a list. It should be more than just the annual CPE credits; it may include writing, speaking or even technology skills. Be very specific about the expertise required to take your career to the next level.

What does my employer suggest? If your employer tells you that working on your public speaking, negotiation or writing skills are important—do it. Even if you are unhappy with your current job, go for it, because chances are these are areas of growth for you, and strengthening your competencies will benefit you wherever you take your career.

What will I read? What sparks your creativity and keeps you from being closed into a box? For me, I love to read about design principles, business strategies and leadership, and my go-to sources are Fast Company, IDEO blogs, HBR, CGMA.org and Inc. I know it doesn’t count toward compliance, and I won’t always learn anything new, but often, ideas or best practices that may have become buried remerge and inspire my thinking. Also, the time commitment doesn’t need to be huge, 10 minutes on Twitter a day can be invaluable to my professional development, as can some gym time with Fast Company on my iPad.

How will I find the time? Setting up an annual professional development plan is not so complicated. Most employers embrace the idea—including thinking about development as more than just CPE compliance. You can and should utilize a larger strategic context, one of self-improvement and advancement. And what better ROI: Continuous improvement is key to unlocking personal and team success. Let’s get started.

Clar Rosso, Vice President - Member Learning & Competency, American Institute of CPAs.


Comments are moderated. Please review our Comment Policy before posting.


Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:

CPA Letter Daily