Kimberly Kirkendall, CPA

President of International Resource Development Inc. in Cleveland.


‘Challenge yourself by taking more risks …’

Building a career in international operations: I studied international business and Chinese language at The Ohio State University. I wanted to live overseas, and I wanted to work in operations, so I moved to China for five years where I began studying Chinese at the Beijing Language and Culture University and then managed manufacturing and supply chain for a U.S. company. I was promoted to general manager of that company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong, where I was dealing with bank relationships, managing cash flow, and setting up a purchasing system.

After returning to the United States, I earned a second bachelor’s degree, in accounting, and got my CPA license. I worked at Cohen & Company, a regional CPA firm. Then, in late 1999, I started International Resource Development, consulting on international operations and supply chain systems, especially the intersection with accounting and finance. I am thankful for my CPA license. The technical knowledge I gained studying accounting and working for the CPA firm gave me a competitive advantage.

Getting started in global business: For CPAs interested in international business, my advice would be to immerse yourself in different cultures. Educate yourself on global accounting standards and practices and stay on top of trends by networking and tracking industry-specific and international news. Find an adviser who has worked internationally on a real hands-on, transactional basis and will challenge your assumptions that business transactions are the same across the globe when, in reality, accounting processes and implementation are different in other countries.

In a global environment, you need to develop a high level of trust with your partners. Build both personal and professional relationships, which is important across cultures. Strong relationships will see you through when problems arise.

Peering into the future: Unfortunately, due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, the supply chain has been in crisis. Companies call me to help solve problems with moving manufactured goods, connecting with suppliers, dealing with financial transactions, and other operational issues. Looking at the world supply chain, I believe we will be going from singlesourced products to multiple sources located in regional hubs. We will see manufacturing and distribution centers centralized for one geographic area: Asia for Asia, North America for North America. Because of this, companies will need more warehousing and equipment in different countries than they do now, and finance professionals will need to learn the accounting norms in various segments of the supply chain.

I think international travel will be impacted for at least another year. We won’t be going back to what I call on-demand international travel. Four years ago, if you wanted to go to Brazil to see a supplier, you could go tomorrow. I don’t think we’re going to have completely open borders anytime soon, and we can’t count on things staying stable in the near term.

Favorite app: I joined Instagram during COVID because I wanted some uplifting and fun accounts to follow.

Favorite destinations: My three favorite places to travel so far are Bali, Turkey, and New Zealand.

Favorite food: The Chinese restaurants near universities here have gotten really good. I also love Vietnamese and Colombian food.

— As told to Teri Saylor, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest another subject for Last Word, contact Courtney Vien at


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