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.  

 

Fairmont – Over 100 years of hot water and good times

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Aerial View Fairmont Hot Springs

We are excited to hold the 103rd Annual Conference at Fairmont and many members have asked why we made the decision to go to a resort this year after so many years in our more urban areas. The answer is simple: Fairmont built a beautiful new convention facility!

Our hotel block for the 103rd Annual Conference expires on May 23rd (that’s next Monday folks!) which means YOU MUST MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS BY MAY 23rd. We have the awesome rate of $119/night (plus tax) so you don’t want to miss this discounted hotel room rate.

To make your reservations go to: https://reservations.fairmontmontana.com/vRes/Custom/GroupLogin.aspx .
You will be asked for a group id number 17120 and password 486; from here you may enter your information.  if you have any issues please call Fairmont at 800.332.3272.

We also have spots reserved at the near-by Fairmont campground. But like the hotel reservations, the availability of these spots expires May 23rd. There are 30amp and 50 amp electrical sites available. Make your reservation by calling 406.797.3505 and be sure to tell them you are with the Montana Society of CPAs group. The campground is about 1/4 mile from the Resort and DOES NOT include swim passes to the hot springs.

After, Indoor Pool 2013You’re going to love the new convention facility and you will have so much fun in the hot springs! But we thought you’d enjoy a learning about Fairmont’s colorful history. Please enjoy this brief history lesson excerpted from Fairmont’s History brochure.

Long before the white man knew about the hot springs, Native American tribes such as the Flathead, Nez Perce and Shoshone set up tepees in the surrounding trees. The Native Americans called the 12 hot pools “Medicine Waters”.

In 1869, George and Eli Gregson acquired the hot springs from a squatter named Hulbert for $60. Can you imagine?! We pay twice that to stay one night and that’s with our discounted rate!

Gregson 1In the years to come, George and Eli turned their attention to the 12 pools of hot mineral water. They built a well-furnished and two-story hotel that could accommodate 50 -60 guest, a plunge bath and five large bathing rooms. Away from the main building a bar room and separate sleeping apartments were constructed. A covered flume was used to conduct the hot and cold water to the bath houses. The cold water was taken from a pure cold stream flowing about 700 yards south of the hotel.

The springs offered cures for rheumatism and other types of ailments. It was said a savory soup could be made by adding salt and pepper to the hot spring water. The soup was consumed in the hopes of curing various ailments.

In 1890 the Gregson Resort was leased to Miles French and a town site was plotted in 1892. On December 9, 1893, the Butte Miner carried a story about the dedication of the town site. It was also reported that the new B & P Depot has been built at Gregson. In 1901 the Resort was sole to Con Hays and James Breen.

Many organizations and clubs held their annual picnics and parties at the springs. On August 12, 1912, the Butte Miners held the most infamous; 14,000 people took part in the event! A brawl broke out between the Anaconda smeltermen and the Butte miners. Two men died in the disturbance but at the inquest the judge could not determine what really occurred so no one was prosecuted. We’re pretty sure MSCPA’s 103rd will be a lot calmer than this!

Tragedy struck on December 23, 1914 when the dance hall and adjoining buildings caught fire. A week and a day later, the hotel plunge caught fire and burned along with the remaining buildings. The fires were blamed on faulty wiring. At the time of the fires, ownership of the resort has passed on to the Montana Hot Springs Association.

George Forsythe bought the Gregson Resort in 1916 and rebuilt and expanded to accommodate tourists. George died in 1935 and his wife, Victoria, ran it until 1959 when she sold it to Treasure State Industries.

The resort closed in 1971 because it fell into such disrepair, but on August 29th that same year the Gregson Surveyor’s Picnic was held as the last chance to see the old hot springs before new construction began. The Montana Standard reported that federal funds would help build a complex including an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, picnic area, outdoor pool and 190 guest rooms. In 1972 the remaining buildings were demolished to make way for the new complex.

The new construction began in 1972 under the direction of new owner Lloyd Wilder of Fairmont Hot Springs British Columbia. It was designed with an indoor pool 80 x 120 feet and an even larger outdoor pool. A cabaret was once located on the second level which connected via an enclosed “bubble” walkway.

Mr. Wilder sold Fairmont to Leroy Mayes in 1981 but repurchased it again in 1990 after it had been taken over by two financial institutions. Wilder died in the last decade and left the ownership of the hotel in trust for his children.

Today, many owners and a stories later, Fairmont offers a new convention center in addition to the hot springs, golf, tennis and many outdoor recreation opportunities. The 168 degree water is cooled to comfortable temperatures that invite you to indulge in the pools and water slide. The hotel’s main restaurant was recently remodeled and you can enjoy a morning latte in the coffee shop.

Fairmont Fun Facts

  • Fairmont Golf Course’s 5th hole is “mile high, mile long” being a mile high in altitude and at 649 yards long the longest hole in Montana.
  • The large pools contain around 220,000 gallons of water. The smaller pools contain approximately 50,000 gallons of water.
  • 58 laps in the indoor pool is 1 mile. 45 laps in the outdoor pool is 1 mile. 
  • The hot water contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, silica, chloride, fluoride, lithium and other chemicals. Most “smelly” hot springs have a high sulfur content. The sulfur content of Fairmont’s hot springs is very low. 
  • The hot springs originally bubbled to the surface in twelve pools. There are three shingled huts near the Wildlife Zoo where the springs come to the surface near the current resort. Now, most of the hot water comes from a 600 ft. well because this source is cleaner and hotter than water that has been allowed to bubble to the surface.

We hope you’ll join us at Fairmont for the 103rd Annual Conference to make a little history of our own. This year’s Conference boasts:

  • Up to 13 hours of CPE
  • Young Professionals Track
  • Highest honors being awarded
  • Dueling Pianos
  • New book club event
  • Fantastic speakers
  • Crazy fun events
  • Ethics credits
  • Super connections with CPAs from across the state

Be sure to register before June 1st to take advantage of early bird pricing and don’t forget to make your hotel reservations by May 23rd.

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So much AWESOMENESS–Part 1

Herriges Margaret 2014by Margaret Herriges, IOM | MSCPA Communications Director

Many of you know I get a little excited when it comes to the convention and this year . . . I’m beyond excited for the 103rd Annual Conference at Fairmont. Let me explain why.

We have really changed things up this year! By your request, many of the sessions are one hour instead of two hour. The first set of concurrent offerings will look like this:

Thursday, June 23, 11:00 – Noon

  • Option 1:  Young Professionals Track–Catapult Your Career b103rdAnnConf2016y Paul Moya (Part 1 of 2)
  • Option 2: Ethics–Its History & Application in Today’s Business World by Jimmy Williams (Part 1 of 2)
  • Option 3:  Social Media for CPAs by Barry MacQuarrie (1 hour)

At noon we’ll celebrate Gary Staudinger, 2016 George D. Anderson Distinguished Service Award Recipient, and then we’ll have our second set of concurrent classes.

Thursday, June 23, 1:00 – 2:00pm

  • Option 1: Young Professionals Track–Catapult Your Career by Paul Moya (Part 2 of 2)
  • Option 2: Ethics by Jimmy Williams (Part 2 of 2)
  • Option 3: 50 Apps in 50 Minutes by Barry MacQuarrie (1 hour)

You’ll be able to take one hour or two hours–it’s up to you –just remember to take both sessions of the Ethics class if you need your two hours.

On top of this we are doing fun new things with our Business Meeting. Yes, we know, business meetings can be dull, but hopefully you notice our efforts to try to make it more interesting. We’ve turned this year’s Business Meeting into a game of sorts and we’ve even scheduled happy hour to start a little earlier to help keep things interesting.

On Friday, concurrent sessions are all in two hour blocks again but we are doing an encore performance of the Ethics class so if you want to take other classes on Thursday, you can still get your ethics credits.

Friday, June 24, 8:30 – 10:30am

  • Option 1: Young Professionals Track–Crucial Conversations by Donna Salter
  • Option 2: Ethics: Its History & Application in Today’s business World by Jimmy Williams
  • Option 3: Unflappable You: Women in Leadership by Future Sync

From there we’ll move into a one-hour general session, The Honest Leader, and conclude with lunch and a professional issues update by Tommye Barie, AICPA recent past chair. She loved coming to Montana last year and we are incredibly lucky to get her back again this year!

“Awesomeness” will be a short series of blogs designed to help you understand and get excited about the changes we’ve made to the 103rd Annual Conference. There are so many fun things to share with you! If you have any questions when you register, or anytime before the Conference, I’m happy to answer them. You can post them below in the comments section or you can call me at 800.272.0307 or email me at margaret@mscpa.org.

It’s a Great Time to be a CPA! Come join us at Fairmont, June 23 & 24.

The EDGE Experience

By Jodi Dunfee, CPA, Rudd & Company, Bozeman

Dunfee Jodi 2016Last August, I had the opportunity to attend the AICPA EDGE Conference. It was an awesome experience!

EDGE is a national conference designed to extend the professional skill sets of young accounting professionals.  At the time, I was almost certain I wanted to return to public accounting (and I since have), but I really wanted to meet with like minds and try to figure out what I enjoyed and disliked about where I was professionally and where I could be.  I met some really great people who gave insight and encouragement about my career path.

The speakers at the conference (to be called EDGE Experience starting in 2016) were great!  There was such a broad spectrum of sessions that I got to hear from a wide variety of presenters.  Some of the speakers were close to my age and owned their own firms; they shared their experiences with us.  There were also speakers, who’ve been in the field longer, who had the charisma and energy that kept us engaged.

I’d say that the most important parts of attending EDGE were the connections I made, the array of session topics and the capability of the conference to light that fire that we all need after a long tax season or even if you just feel stuck in a rut.  There are so many opportunities and possibilities for our generation in the accounting field.  I think it’s important to get out of the everyday work mantra and realize that leadership is our generation’s responsibility, and the EDGE Experience does that.

MSCPA Note: If you are interested in an experience designed for young CPAs103rdAnnConf2016 that’s a little closer to home, we encourage you to check out the Young Professionals Track at the 103rd Annual Conference, June 23 and 24 at Fairmont. This year’s speakers will include Paul Moya, Harvard Millennial expert specializing in next generation consulting, and Donna Salter, Senior Manager, AICPA Young Member Initiatives (the lady in charge of AICPA’s EDGE Experience). Watch for more information about the 103rd Annual Conference coming soon!