Six minutes that will alter your view of history

To celebrate the AICPA’s 125th anniversary this year, CEO and President Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, challenged the Institute’s in-house Creative Services–MultiMedia Group to create a video highlighting key events in American and world history that hinged on the work of accountants and CPAs.

The result of that challenge is Evolution of a Profession, a sixminute video available at for free download. The video features two CPAs highlighting key contributions of accountants, beginning with the birth of commerce in ancient times through the establishment and growth of the CPA profession in the United States.

“This video truly captures the breadth and depth of CPAs, highlighting our profession’s involvement in some of the most significant moments in human history. The illumination of our past allows us to successfully plan our future,” said AICPA 2011–2012 Chairman Greg Anton. “This video captures the pride I feel as a CPA, and I think it’s a ‘must-play’ at any CPA gathering.”

Accounting historian Gary Previts, chair of the Department of Accountancy at Case Western Reserve University, served as lead consultant on the project’s research. The research team included Dale Flesher, associate dean of the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi, and AICPA senior staff.

“I come from a long line of professionals who’ve done some pretty amazing things,” says Steve Beguhn, CPA, one of the video’s two narrators, in the opening seconds.

“Without us, the merchants of Venice might not have known if they were making a profit,” narrator Noel Abdur- Rahim, CPA, later adds.

Key events in the Evolution of a Profession video include the Mayflower voyage, the U.S. Industrial Revolution, and the establishment of the SEC and the corresponding role of CPAs as auditors of U.S. public company financial statements.

“It’s eye-opening to consider the rich history of the profession,” Abdur-Rahim said of the video. “I learned some things about accounting and the CPA profession that I didn’t know.” Beguhn thinks others will come away from the video with new insights and a sense of pride.

“But I really think it can be more than that. I also think it’s a fantastic recruiting tool,” he said. “I would love for the video to be shown in college classrooms as students are making some of those career decisions and they’re deciding what major they’re going to choose—having something like that in front of them to say, ‘Hey, have you thought about accounting?’ It might be a lot sexier than they originally thought.”

Beguhn works in PwC’s Entertainment, Media & Communications (EMC) Sector Practice. He was a contestant on season 10 of American Idol. Abdur-Rahim is a CPA in PwC’s Core Assurance division in Atlanta. Both said it is significant that the video was narrated by CPAs rather than professional actors. Abdur-Rahim thought the selection of CPA narrators was a true representation of what it means to be a CPA today—blending technical knowledge with an ability to communicate on the world’s stage.

“We’re real people who are passionate about our careers and what we do,” Beguhn said, “and what this profession stands for and what the AICPA stands for.”

Members will also find eight additional videos that explore some of the major milestones in the profession’s history available at for free download.


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