Maddie attended the 2018 AICPAs Prestigious Leadership Academy and we got the inside scoop.
Q: Did you always want to be a CPA?
A: No, I didn’t. I had originally attended college, at Montana State University, for creative design. I was exposed to accounting as a career when I took my first accounting class. The class was challenging and when studying the hours would go by and I was sucked in. I knew this was a career path I wanted to pursue.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being a CPA?
A: My favorite part is when I get to operate in a creative space when meeting clients, talking to them and learning about their business. I really enjoy brainstorming ideas on how to grow clients’ businesses.
Q: How were you introduced to the AICPA Leadership Academy, and what was the application process like?
A: Four years ago, I helped put together a Young Professionals track for MSCPA and we hired Joseph Rugger as a speaker, an Academy Alumni. After meeting him and helping with the logistics of his presentation on the Generation Gap, he reached out to the society for my contact information to refer me into the program. Honestly, I was really scared! I didn’t know if I would make it in or if I should even try. He lit a fire and pushed me to try. He helped me with the application process and talked to me about how to set myself up for success.
Q: What was the application process like?
A: Lengthy. It took almost a year. The application itself consisted of two essays, of which they had received over 120 applications with only 43 accepted into the program. It was a time commitment, but I’m am appreciative of the support I received from the MSCPA and my firm, Wipfli, LLP.
Q: What are three things you can share about the Academy?
- The process really helps you self-reflect on how others perceive you. Before you leave for the Academy, a survey is filled out by yourself, your peers and your supervisors. You receive and review the results before you attend. This survey helped peel back layers and provide insightful perspectives. It also helped me attend the first day of the conference with an open mind ready and ready to learn.
- While at the conference we learned about our top 5 values and how they drive our decision making. My Top 5 are – Creativity, Fairness, Bravery, A Love of Learning and An Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. We learned that we all place our values in a different order and understanding how our values can be played as strengths or be limiting helps us lead with an outward mindset and work to achieve goals we didn’t even know we had.
- At the Academy we spent time discussing the rapid pace of change the accounting industry is currently experiencing and what it the means for the future of the industry and our young professionals. We learned how to have open conversations about change and how to face it in a proactive manner. I hope to keep this conversation going in my firm and in the MSCPA, and work to make it so that we can be a part of change rather than let change happen to us.
Q: What do you plan to do with the knowledge and experiences from the Leadership Academy?
A: When I came home from the academy what I wanted to do first was reflect on what I learned and find a way to use it a little bit every day. We learned so much, and to tackle it all at once would be un-manageable. I want to use the self-reflection to help prioritize my career and make sure I focus on areas where I can provide value and can afford the opportunity to create. I hope to help young professionals grow and achieve their goals, and help our team at Wipfli, LLP work together toward common goals.
Q: Have you always considered yourself a future leader?
A: I wouldn’t say I considered myself or looked at myself as a leader. I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity to lead. The Academy taught me what it means to be a leader and helped me understand all the opportunities and different ways we can lead.
Q: Is there a leader who has positively influenced your career for the better, who would it be and why?
A: Sydni Tangaro whom I worked with earlier in my career. There were times when balancing life and work were too hard and I wanted to quit. She took the time to talk through the situation, provided solutions and called me out when I was wrong. She just leads by example.
Additionally, I understand more clearly the power of people coming together. How lucky are we that we have the MSCPA and AICPA to help be a part of our success and a support system? Going through this process and reflecting on it has really helped me understand how valuable these societies are, and I want to continue to find ways to give back.