Stephanie C. Palmertree, CPA, CGMA

Director, Financial and Compliance Division for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor

 Stephanie C. Palmertree, CPA, CGMA, oversees the Financial and Compliance Division for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. Last year, she received the AICPA’s 2020 Outstanding CPA in Government Impact Award at the State Level.
Stephanie C. Palmertree, CPA, CGMA, oversees the Financial and Compliance Division for the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. Last year, she received the AICPA’s 2020 Outstanding CPA in Government Impact Award at the State Level. (Photo by Charles Anthony Smith/AP Images)

‘Make employees feel like their work is valued…’

Take a targeted approach: When I started my job at the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor, we were offering general governmental CPE. We invited speakers to talk to our auditors for a two-day conference on an array of topics that were part of a typical continuing education curriculum. The education offerings usually addressed issues that affect larger states like California or New York rather than those affecting smaller, more rural populations like we have in Mississippi. My team decided we wanted to offer a more meaningful and targeted continuing education program. We decided to restructure our CPE programming to better fit the needs of our staff and government auditors we serve.

Provide effective speakers: There is a shortage of people who teach government CPE, and our location presents a challenge. We feel we have exhausted the instructors who will come down to Mississippi and do large-scale CPE, especially during the summer when it's hot and humid. To be able to offer education that is new and different, we decided we would teach the courses ourselves. So we're bringing some of our education in-house. We are training our own staff to teach, with a goal of developing them into subject-matter experts. This way, we can both save on speaker fees and create a tailored approach to our education offerings.

Restructure training: In analyzing the delivery of training, we perceived the sessions were too long and boring. We went from doing eight or 16 hours of CPE per event to conducting four hours of CPE in the morning and four hours of non-CPE training on topics like team building in the afternoon. And when I say team building, I don't mean meaningless activity; I mean training in soft topics such as how to improve your interview skills, how to get along with your co-workers, or how to build relationships with employees across different divisions. While these topics might not qualify for CPE, they are important. We also started cross-training employees across our divisions, requiring them to participate in education programs with other divisions besides their own so they could get to know each other better and have a greater understanding of each other's jobs.

Make employees feel appreciated: We consider education as an investment and a demonstration of appreciation for our employees. When somebody feels appreciated and sees that their supervisors have taken an interest in them, they are going to do a better job. One of my goals is to make employees feel like their work is valued. Most people want to do a good job. We have very dedicated staff. We eat lunch together, enjoy one another's company on a regular basis, and make work as enjoyable as it can be because, if you love the people you work with, you enjoy going to work every day.


  • Favorite books:Harry Potter series.
  • Favorite tech tool: Apple Watch.
  • Favorite item on my desk: MSU cowbell (National Champions!)

— As told to Teri Saylor, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, a JofA senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.

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