'Market your profession, your skills, and yourself whenever you can.'
A move from for-profit to not-for-profit (NFP) work: I had worked in public accounting for 12 years. As a father with young children, I was looking for a change of pace and less travel. Also, my youngest child is deaf, and I wanted the time to learn as much as possible about deaf culture and improve my sign language skills. After five years with a local corporation as their CFO, I moved to the Rochester Institute of Technology, which includes the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, as their chief audit executive.
Be prepared for culture shock: If you are going directly from public accounting (or a for-profit corporation) to an NFP, be prepared for culture shock. Employees of NFPs typically have their focus set on the organization's mission and on having a positive impact in the areas they serve, rather than being concerned about profitability. CPAs can be vital contributors to an NFP because of their financial discipline, analytical skills, broad business experience, and their ability to assess risk.
In any environment, market your profession: If you want to be included at the table in any organization, tell the right people why your presence is important and ask your supervisor to do the same. Greater exposure of the accounting and auditing profession is opening people's minds to including CPAs on their committees. And when you are invited, contribute. Don't be a seat warmer. Accounting and auditing professionals continually strive to remain relevant in changing times. The way to achieve and maintain relevance is to stay current and to market your profession, your skills, and yourself whenever you can.
Return to public accounting: My career has come full circle as I started to practice at The Bonadio Group in Rochester, N.Y., in February 2017. The fast-paced and variety-rich environment of public accounting aligns with my DNA. But my experience as an AICPA Council member and my volunteer service with the New York State Society of CPAs is what really started me thinking about a return to public accounting.
Understand your clients: Having been on both sides of the table has informed my understanding of what clients experience, and I believe that I will be able to become my clients' trusted adviser because of that understanding. I believe that giving clients the best customer service means timely responses to their questions and requests, and making the effort to really learn about their industry. There are many professional service firms; you have to continually show how you and your firm differ from your competition.