'I ask students what they are passionate about ...'
Developments in sustainability: Sustainability currently impacts all types of organizations and individuals. From the federal government perspective, the fiscal condition of the federal government is not sustainable. If you doubt this statement, I refer you to the financial statements of the federal government where the annual report states the current fiscal condition of the federal government is not sustainable. Reporting on fiscal sustainability is a required disclosure by [FASAB]. This lack of fiscal sustainability will impact businesses, governments at all levels, and citizens, and will provide many challenges to the accounting profession. Likewise, businesses have recognized the need to implement strategies and operations that ensure they are sustainable into the future.
Advice to students entering the workforce: Most students have not thought beyond getting their first job. I like for them to think longer term and focus on their careers. I ask students what they are passionate about and advise them to go in that direction. In my more than 40 years of experience, I find individuals perform best and enjoy their careers when they are passionate about what they are doing. It has served me well over my career. As a licensed CPA myself, I do encourage students to become a CPA. The options available to students in their careers will be broader, more diverse, and fulfilling as a result of being a CPA.
Challenging today's students: I don't think today's students want anything different than what I wanted when I graduated from the University of Richmond in 1975 — to make a difference. What I do perceive as different is how they will make that difference. The profession needs to leverage current and emerging technologies to enhance students' professional and personal lives. The good news is the students are up to the challenge. For example, every year, we have 25 to 30 undergraduate teams complete practicum experiences, helping organizations solve problems using business analytics. The companies are always impressed with the quality of the results of the practicums. We should not be afraid to challenge students.
Colleges should embrace change: To make sure colleges are teaching students the most relevant material for their future jobs, they must embrace change and engage with the accounting profession. The profession needs the scholarship of the academy to help address the challenges. Likewise, the academy needs to understand those challenges and related skills so we can prepare students to meet those challenges.
— As told to Lea Hart, a freelance writer based in Durham, N.C. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac, the JofA's editorial director, at Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com.