'Match your skills with your passion ...'
Mentoring the next generation: It's important to pass on skills and knowledge to the next generation. I first had the opportunity to do that when I served as an adjunct professor at Bryant University. Helping students as a mentor as well as a professor was extremely rewarding. I used to take everyone in the class out to lunch, creating an opportunity to work with them on a one-on-one basis, and that was a way to connect with them beyond the classroom. It gave them a chance to learn and ask questions and gave me an opportunity to pass on what I could to the next generation.
When work doesn't feel like work: To be a good citizen, it's important to focus on volunteering in ways that use your skills to help your community. When you can match your skills with your passion, it never feels like work. Serving as chairman of the AICPA board of directors in 2010 had the biggest impact on my life personally and professionally. It was an incredible experience of personal and professional growth. This experience improved my skills in communications and teamwork. As chair, I had the opportunity to meet people in the profession all over the country and learn from them as well. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and encouraged me to keep volunteering in the profession whenever I could.
The benefits of giving back: Volunteering primarily is an opportunity to give back to your community and your profession. It also gives you opportunities to build skills that can help you in your career. One of the things I have learned by giving so many presentations as a volunteer is how to speak successfully in public. I have learned how important it is to be prepared, walk in the room beforehand to see what it looks like, reduce your variables, leave the audience wanting more, and end with a call to action. Most importantly, you should only agree to present on subjects that you are very familiar with; you need to know a mile to teach an inch.
A worthwhile mission: The AICPA Foundation encourages a wide range of talented and diverse students to pursue their CPA designation by funding numerous scholarships and fellowships, supporting innovative programs in accounting education and outreach, and encouraging diversity and inclusion in the profession. Being a part of that is something incredibly special, and the foundation's board of trustees is a group of like-minded people who really care about this profession. We wake up with "how to help the next generation" on our minds, and I feel incredibly lucky to get to work with such a passionate group.
— As told to Sara Cass, associate manager of the AICPA Foundation. 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.