“You can’t teach a person to be ethical, but you show through life experiences, examples of good and bad ethical behavior and hope the person gets it”.

Jim Woy, George D Anderson Distinguished Service Award Recipient, 2021

“My filter is getting better at 63!” Those who’ve had the honor of meeting Jim Woy know he is a straight shooter, passionate about his profession and beliefs, he hates to lose, and he doesn’t hold grudges. Jim is also confident enough to change his mind when confronted with more input on a particular debate issue. These are the perfect combination for a CPA who has dedicated his career to teaching ethics to students and CPAs across the country.

Jim is nationally known for his work in peer review and teaching CPE courses and has been twice awarded the AICPA Outstanding Instructor award.   Jim has continued to teach at the local level at MT Tech in Butte since 1988. If you’re a Montana CPA, it’s likely you received your ethics credits through a local chapter event that Jim presented a time or two in the past. In addition to teaching at MT Tech, Jim, in partnership with Terri Herron, wrote and presented a one credit course at the University of Montana that combined Regulatory ethics and peer review. He taught this class for four years and sees this as a highlight of his career.

Born and raised in Butte, Jim was one of eight children. His father was a CPA and his guiding light. He wanted to follow in his footsteps and looking back, Jim recognizes what a big influence his father was in his career path. His father, Frank, was the first CPA at Montana Power, what is now NorthWestern Energy. Jim graduated from Butte Central in ’76 and went on to graduate from University of Montana. During this time, he married the love of his life, Kate. 

Jim took his first job in Anchorage Alaska after seeing beluga whales in the inlet. Jim worked there from 1981 until 1984 when he returned to Montana and started working at Anderson ZurMuehlen.  He and his family returned to Alaska and his previous CPA Firm in 1986. They stayed there until 1988, when they decided to move back to Montana after a home robbery that shook his young family. Jim returned to Anderson ZurMuehlen and never left!  He did stay involved with his firm in Alaska and in fact still does their peer review!

Jim credits much of his learning from his experiences volunteering at nonprofits. He has been involved with many local and national causes, including, past president of the Butte YMCA, Butte Exchange Club,  past president of the Montana Society of CPAs (MSCPA) and is currently the Chair of Harrison Avenue Urban Revitalization District (URD) to foster improvements locally in Butte. Additionally, he serves on the Oversight Task Force, a national peer review task force with the AICPA and previously served on the PCPS Technical Issues Committee (TIC) where he learned you need to be very tan and smart to serve on standard setting bodies like FASB, GASB and the ASB. Jim just couldn’t get that tan going!

Jim’s involvement with the MSCPA started when he was asked to put his name in the hat for a director role on the board by a Gary Staudinger, a local CPA  . The president at the time, Marilyn Bartlett, gave him a glimpse at how a president operates and inspired Jim. In his words, it was an impressive group, Jim Galipeau, Tony DiLello, Dave Sather and Rick Reisig, to name a few. He wanted to go through the ranks and was passionate about it. Jane Egan, the MSCPA Executive Director at the time, bled the values and made him want to be involved. Reflecting back, Jim felt “it was such a fun loving group and then their was Jim, the conservative auditor, the staunch CPA!”   When his time as president was up, the board knew Jim’s weakness was remembering names. During his Annual Conference where he was passing the baton, they switched their name tags around to see if he’d notice! He did, thinking back on the memory made him chuckle.

The George D Anderson Distinguished Service award is prestigious, and in Jim’s case brings his career full circle.  George signed Jim’s AICPA certificate in 1981. George was President at AZ and Jim still has the welcome letter he received from George when he started his career there. “George was a very good man”, Jim thought back to how the focus of the firm was community and the profession under George’s leadership, it was never about the profit or bottom line.  Although Jim does add that the Bottom line is pretty important and should always be a focus in any business.

An avid runner, Jim has completed 13 marathons. 4 Boston, 4 Portland, 4 Montana Governors Cups, and 1 NYC Marathon for the local Butte nonprofit Mariah’s Challenge. These are amazing feats, however, the most memorable run for Jim, was a half marathon in Phoenix, Rock-n-Roll Marathon with his daughters, as he lovingly called “his girls”, Ashley and Alyssa in January 2020.

With retirement on the horizon, Jim plans to spend time with Kate, his wife of 44 years. They are passionate Chicago Cubs fans and plan to attend spring training for 3 weeks, as they did pre COVID.  Jim loves his family and lights up when talking about his daughters and their families, including his six grandchildren and plans to spend his time attending little league games and being grandpa.

In closing, Jim’s advice to students and CPAs, new and seasoned, always remember, you will be confronted with an ethical dilemmas as a CPA, make sure to think through the consequences of your decision. Once your reputation is tarnished, it’s hard to get back.

One thought on ““You can’t teach a person to be ethical, but you show through life experiences, examples of good and bad ethical behavior and hope the person gets it”.

  1. Congratulations Jim! Well earned. Though my time working with you was fairly brief, I clearly looked to you as a mentor.

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