Wayne McConnell, CPA

Managing partner of McConnell & Jones LLP in Houston

Wayne McConnell, CPA, is managing partner of McConnell & Jones LLP in Houston.
Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux/AP Images

'Develop and nurture a true personal connection ...'

Driven by integrity: My mom was a first-grade teacher and taught us the golden rules early in life — do things the right way, with integrity. It was really a value system for me, and it fit right into the passion I have for accounting. I was introduced to accounting when I took a bookkeeping and accounting course as a junior in high school. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a CPA and never wavered from that goal.

Having crucial conversations: As managing partner I have what I call "crucial conversations" with my direct reports. In each instance, I work hard to come from a place of positivity rather than negativity. Then I provide comments to assist them in their personal and professional development. I always ask, "What can I do? How can I help?" There are three "D's" that I focus on: dialogue, debate, and decision. I try to have an open dialogue about the situation, have a healthy debate about whatever the issues are, and then make a decision about how we're going to move forward.

Succeeding in a time of rapid change: I find it important to focus on three major areas for the firm: technology, succession planning, and human resources. It's vital today to have a technology strategy in place. We all hear about big data, AI, blockchain, and cloud computing; I work closely with our IT director and the rest of our partners to develop a strategic plan that addresses the fast pace of change within the technology arena. My partners and I also understand the importance of long-term leadership planning and feel it's important to focus on a succession planning strategy. To have an enduring organization, succession planning at all levels within the organization is essential. Finally, a human resources strategy is critical. We have worked hard to develop a recruiting and onboarding strategy around how to attract the younger generations to the profession, training and developing them and creating the right environment to ensure retention.

Providing great service to clients: A true relationship is key to providing great service. We encourage our associates to look beyond the client service aspect of the relationship to develop and nurture a true personal connection. I like to say they're not just my client, they're also my friend. Having a true relationship with one another is our true purpose for being. There's work to be done, but if you have that trusted relationship, it enhances the entire process. From there, it's easy to communicate routinely; to talk about what's going on with their business and to provide them with feedback for improvement.

— As told to Lea Hart, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. 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.

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