MSCPA is Going to the House of Lords!

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Margaret Herriges, MSCPA Communications Director

by Margaret Herriges, CAE, IOM | MSCPA Communications Director

What’s on your bucket list? Travel, adventure, fabulous experiences? Me, too, but I recently received an invitation that is beyond what I would have ever had the audacity to add to my bucket list: I’ve been invited to represent the Montana Society of CPAs at the House of Lords.

Did you go back and reread that last sentence? Yes! I said THE House of Lords! You know, Parliament . . .  in ENGLAND . . . how crazy is that?! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate.

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You may know that MSCPA has international members. These are accounting professionals who want/need the recognition of what they do in countries that might not use the CPA designation but who do the same kind of work and have a similar designation from their own country. MSCPA has had a 30+- year relationship with the Association of CPAs International to help these accountants. When an international accounting professional applies for MSCPA membership, they apply through the CPAs International and this organization vets them on our behalf.

The head of this organization is Dr. Anthony Edwards. Dr. Edwards is amazing: a consummate professional with a zest for life and a kindness that comes across international phone lines. He’s an Honorary Life member of MSCPA and has long charmed the staff whenever he calls, sharing what life and work is like in the U.K.

A short time ago I received a call from Dr. Edwards (always a treat). He explained that an auditor regulation bill was recently signed into law in the United Arab Emirates. THIS is a very big deal. In a relatively young country—just 45 years old—this is a sophisticated and progressive step to being a country that recognizes the value of an audit. As he explained, I was thinking he must want me to publish this information in our newsletter, eConnect, about this momentous event—a great idea! But he went on to tell me that CPAs International was planning on celebrating this accomplishment with the help of their sponsor, the Baroness Caroline Cox, from the House of Lords and they would like ME to attend! Seriously! A farmer’s daughter from rural Montana, invited to be the guest of the Baroness and the Association at the House of Lords on May 4th!

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To say I was stunned doesn’t start to explain it! Thrilled, amazed, excited and so incredibly honored is a start. I’ll practice sounding British and say I am gob smacked by this opportunity! In addition to the invitation itself, I have also been asked to make a short speech at the event, explaining the relationship with the International Association and our 56 out-of-country members that make MSCPA a player in the global accounting market.

When I received this invitation my first thought was: I need a passport! I’ve never traveled outside the United States. My second thought: will the MSCPA Executive Committee give me permission to do this?  Luckily the passport process went quickly because the Executive Committee graciously said YES!

This will all happen on May 4th.  My husband, Chris, and I will leave Helena on May 1st for an adventure I would never have had the courage to even dream about. I will be sharing pictures and blogging about this experience on MontanaCPAs.org and I invite you to share the experience with me by subscribing to our blog, MontanaCPAs.org.

Members of the Montana Society of CPAs are an amazing group of people. I get to tell your story on a world stage and I am so incredibly honored for this privilege.

TEMP Queen ElizabethI’m now amending my bucket list. I think I need to be a little more courageous with my dreams moving forward. I mean, how am I going to top being a guest at the House of Lords? Perhaps my bucket list should include an audience with the Queen?

Cheerio!

Allen’s Story

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Allen Lloyd, Incoming MSCPA Executive Director

Hello MSCPA Members!

My name is Allen, and I am excited to become the next Executive Director of this outstanding organization.  My first order of business will be getting to know you and learning what keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning.  To break the ice, I wanted to tell you a little about who I am… You can read about my career in the announcement, but that is only a small part of who I am.

Currently, I live in Columbus, Ohio, and people here ask, “Why move to Montana?”  Professionally, this is a dream opportunity, and I look forward to growing and building on the work of Jane, the staff, and our members.  Personally, my family and I love being surrounded by nature, so we are very excited to explore the beauty of the state and take in the landscape you call home.

One of my favorite hobbies is mountain biking.  I didn’t learn to ride until I was six or seven, but once I learned, it was hard to get me off of a bike.  My wife and I met on a mountain biking trip, and I already have a list of friends who want to come riding in Montana.

No handsDuring the interview process, I was asked about relocating to a smaller city.  I turned 40 a couple of years ago, and while my last 20 years were spent in Columbus, most of my first 20 years were spent in a speck on the map called Clarington, Ohio.  Growing up, my world view was two hills and the Ohio River. We drove 10 miles each way to get groceries once a week.  There will definitely be adjustments, but Helena has everything a person needs (nice people, craft beer, good coffee, and a Target).

Bad selfieMy wife, Jill, is an accountant currently working in industry.  When we met, her plan was to be in Columbus for a few months then move west. I only delayed her plans by 16 years.  We have two boys: Byron, who turns 9 later this year and Winston, who turned 7 in December.  As you can imagine, there is rarely a dull moment around our house.  Our family photos do a pretty good job of capturing a typical night at our house.

I would like to thank Jane, the staff, and the volunteers and members for all their work making MSCPA the great organization it is today.  In particular, I want to thank the Search Strike Force for making me feel welcome during the interview process, and for their belief in my ability to lead this organization.

HomeLogowDatesPlease join me at the Annual Conference in Billings, June 22-23. There, we will celebrate Jane’s accomplishments and reignite your passion for the accounting profession with some great speakers and opportunities to connect with friends old and new.  We’ll roll out the welcome mat so you can relax and learn at your professional home!

Presidentially Speaking

By Annette Hill, MSCPA President 2016-2017

hill-annette-2016Hello fellow CPAs!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’m trusting you’ll take some time today to spend with your loved ones, especially your valentine!  Consider taking a breath to reflect on other areas in your life that cause you to feel grateful; home, health and relationships.

Many of you have asked us how it’s going with the search for a new executive director.  I’m happy to report that we are on schedule with the timeline set by our Strike Force leader, Brenda Byrnes. We are in the interview stage, having received numerous applications from qualified candidates and are on track to introduce you to a new executive director by our Annual Conference in June.

What about Jane?  Even more of you have inquired about Jane’s retirement and we assure you that you will have opportunities to celebrate with Jane, to congratulate and thank her for her many years of service to the Society.  Watch for details!

It is opportunity season for those of us in public accounting and no doubt many in industry, nonprofit, government and education are feeling the opportunity as well, wrapping up calendar year end activities and initiating 2017.  Our staff at the Society office have been closing the January 31, 2017 fiscal year and commencing the next one with issuance of dues statements.  Your statement hit your physical or virtual mail box on February 1st.

As you review the notice, you’ll see that our Society staff has done an outstanding job of detailing the five strategic pillars and the benefits your dues provide our members.

MEMBERSHIP tools and services, volunteer and leadership opportunities

SUSTAINABILITY and focus on being the most valuable resource for members

CONNECTION through Find-A-CPA, MontanaConnection.org, MSCPA.org, local and rural chapters, e-publications, social media and this blog

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE with 52 live CPE courses, 4 conferences and thousands of webcasts

ADVOCACY with representation at the state Legislature, Department of Revenue, State Board of Accountants, IRS and AICPA.

What an inspiring and fitting list for our pillars! They guide our board of directors, staff, committees, task forces and all of our volunteers, charting the course for our mission.  That’s important and we need to keep it in front of us.  However, as you consider paying your dues this year, you might be asking yourself, “What’s really in it for me?”  I’ve spent a few moments considering the value my membership brings me.

In 20 years as a member, I’ve enjoyed benefits in all of the pillars and for that I’m grateful and have no doubt I have received much more than the cost of my membership dues.  One of my favorite benefits though, is really one captured in the MEMBERSHIP pillar.  “Tools and services” include our Society office and staff.  This is the benefit working for us every day that we may not even know is happening. Our Society office and staff are our best return on investment.

Have you called the Society office and been greeted with Heidi’s cheery and welcoming voice?  Have you experienced an issue with CPE and had Jean fix it for you?  Have you had Carol hold your hand as you worked through the paperwork to get your first peer review completed? Have you paused to giggle a little when you read the latest recipe for tax season mixology drinks on Facebook or learned what music Reidun cranks when she needs some inspiration? Attended a fun-filled, professional MSCPA conference? Reconnected with a CPA that left the state? (Thanks Margaret!) Finally, do you know the influence and the respect our illustrious executive director commands with our state legislators? Have you changed your job and in the stress of changing co-workers, locations and career goals, have you found some comfort in the familiarity of your MSCPA staff and office?  Have you remembered that these same people probably call you by name, recognize your spouse, know where you work and understand your passion for the accounting profession?

THIS is the value of membership.  I encourage you to renew (join if you are not currently a member) pay your dues and enjoy the benefits our greatest resource can bring you.  See you in Billings at the 104th Annual Conference!

 

 

My Experience at the AICPA Leadership Academy

schuerg-austin-2015by Austin Schuerg

In October I had the honor of representing Montana at the AICPA’s Leadership Academy (LA), thanks to the MSCPA Legacy Foundation.  This four-day intensive program was designed to engage young professionals in a self-examination of leadership, what that means and how that impacts their personal life and career path.  The facilitators of this Academy, Tom Hood (CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs) and Gretchen Pisano (CEO of p.Link Coaching Center) were truly amazing.  If you’ve ever met Tom or Gretchen, you know they are both passionate and energizing people, key to a successful program.

The program itself consisted of 38 young CPAs from around the country with very diverse backgrounds.  An application process was required that consisted of two short essays documenting the applicant’s thoughts on what the future holds for a leader in the accounting function, whether private or public, as well as how each applicant feels they would benefit from such a program. Outside of the program itself, a key component of LA was the networking and socializing with the other CPAs.  This has already been super valuable in that we have formed a private Facebook group and have bounced questions and ideas around numerous times already.

Prior to the academy, the first step was identifying each of our own leadership strengths.  LA utilized the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath which was accompanied by a Clifton’s Stengthsfinder assessment.  I had always had an idea of where my leadership strengths lie, but this assessment really cemented that for me and pushed me to begin identifying how to leverage those in my daily professional and personal life.  After I returned from LA, I sat down with the leaders in my current company and walked through my strengths.  We have since redesigned my career path to one that will most benefit my strengths as well as the company.  Actual action, I love that.

During LA, the facilitators walked us through an intensive study of the i2a facilitation process.  The generalized concept here is to create buy in from team members to really help drive projects forward.  As a team, you attempt to really break down an issue to its most basic form and then create a plan to overcome this.  I plan to implement this process over q4 in my current role to identify ways to overcome some obstacles we are facing related to our interdepartmental relationships.  If you are unaware of the i2a facilitation process, feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly provide a run down.

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Barry Melancon | Austin Schuerg | Tim Christen

One of the highlights for me from the week was interacting with Barry Melancon, President of the AICPA, and Tim Christen, Board Member of the AICPA and Chair of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP.  During one of our “networking” nights, we had North Carolina barbecue and a bags (corn hole) tournament in which my team got knocked out in the semi-finals.  The last evening of LA, we had the opportunity to have a two-hour Q&A session with Barry Melancon in which we learned about his career path as well as where he sees the profession headed.  He is truly an inspiring leader and the insights he provided were amazing.

Overall, the three key takeaways for me from this program are self-awareness of my own strengths, awareness of what drives other’s motivation, and that leadership is facilitation.

Donna Salter and Erin Carson from the AICPA did a superb job in organizing this academy and I would highly recommend it to any young professional in the accounting industry who is looking to either take, or position themselves to take, that next step in their career.  A special thank you to the Legacy Foundation and the MSCPA for their support in my attendance to the LA.  I truly feel it was game-changer for me and I hope to assist and give back to the profession here in the state as much as I can.

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2016 AICPA Leadership Academy Graduates

Austin Schuerg is only the second Montanan to have the honor of attending the AICPA’s prestigious Leadership Academy, thanks to the support of the MSCPA Legacy Foundation. The first Montana attendee was Jeremiah Rouane (First Interstate Bank) back in 2010, so you can see that Austin’s attendance is landmark for Montana CPAs.

Austin works as a senior accountant with Simms Fishing Products in Bozeman. He serves as the Young Professional member on the MSCPA Board of Directors and is very active in all MSCPA initiatives to promote the success and involvement of our YPs.