As part of this year’s Top 100 Most Influential People survey, Accounting Today asked, “What do you hope your legacy will be?”
The full responses of all the candidates are below.
I would like to be remembered as a leader who put the customer at the center of everything and worked hard to solve their pain points. Someone laser focused on driving innovation to help move the accounting profession forward into the future by delivering expert insights and solutions that help them be more effective for their clients
— Karen Abramson, CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting
I want to leave a legacy of raising the profile of middle market businesses in our country while building the most attractive firm to serve them. The midsized businesses we serve at RSM account for 40% of our country’s GDP and one-third of jobs. It is important that their unique needs are recognized as policy is shaped, and RSM has been a leader in giving the middle market a voice. We have also focused on unique learning opportunities and thought leadership to ensure our people are armed to meet the changing needs of this market while at the same time creating a best-in-class, supportive culture for diverse talent to thrive.
— Joe Adams, managing partner and CEO, RSM US
I hope that I have made a difference to drive change in our profession. I’ve helped to make our profession more relevant and to change with the times. I’ve given
auditors the tools to think about what they do so that their work is not in danger of becoming a commodity.
— Al Anderson, founder and president, Accountability Plus
To have curbed the problems linked to financial irregularities like wirecard, corruption and overall poor financial reporting that deeply erodes trust in civilian society.
— Solon Angel, founder, MindBridge AI
“He paved the way for others to follow”
— August Aquila, CEO, Aquila Global Advisors LLC
Above all else, I hope that my legacy will shine through the two young men I’ve raised. I hope that they exhibit empathy, kindness, generosity, and happiness to the world and that they carry integrity with them throughout their lives.
I also hope that I leave a legacy that shows that I gave more to the world around me than I took from it, that I lived with a sense of courage that allowed me to overcome any fear of failure, and that those around me could always come to me for help and count on me in any season of life.
— Liz Armbruester, SVP, global compliance operations, Avalara
“She actually cared.” I’d be lying to say I don’t have lofty career aspirations and want to continue climbing the corporate ladder, but honestly, at the end of it all, I don’t want to be known for my title or my salary. I want to be known as the one who actually cared about my teammates, my partners, my clients, and my family. I want my colleagues, my nephews and nieces to be inspired to work hard, but also to love hard, and to always be proud of everything that has your name on it. I’ve been inspired so much by the legacy of Kobe Bryant that has been amplified the past year since his passing. One of my favorite things about his leadership philosophy is the idea that the job of a leader is to inspire greatness out of others. If you can push someone else to better themselves, then that’s the sign of true greatness.
— Kim Austin, business development manager, national accounts, Intuit
I want people to know I didn’t just start a business for the sake of entrepreneurship. I’m not a serial entrepreneur. I didn’t do it to be the most well-known CEO in the country. I started LeaseQuery because I knew there was a problem in lease accounting, I became obsessed with the problem, and I put literally all of my energy and cash into solving this problem. It’s a lot easier to give up when it’s not an obsession for you.
However, LeaseQuery has been more than just a personal journey and obsession. I’ve worked hard to inspire a culture at LeaseQuery where everyone is just as passionate and obsessed with what we’re solving as I am. At LeaseQuery, we row the boat together. It’s not just about who I am as a CEO or the legacy I leave behind, it’s about who is capable of making decisions in our company’s best interest, who is keeping the business moving forward. The legacy I want to leave behind is what we have accomplished as a team to make accountants’ lives easier.
— George Azih, founder and CEO, LeaseQuery
He eliminated the billable hour and timesheets, freeing our profession from the tyranny of time.
— Ron Baker, founder, VeraSage Institute
I hope to look back on a profession that is firmly planted in the future.
Leading an organization is a constant reinvention process. Each experience informs the next and that continuous discovery process done right gives you the standing to create sustainable impact. When I look back on the CPA profession in New York, I hope that my message will have been heard. My legacy will be the thousands of CPAs across New York who, through our tireless efforts toward education and advocacy over many long years, are now prepared to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing profession and face the future with confidence and hope. We are paving the way with many legislative victories. We have always striven to be at the forefront of these changes so that we can have an active hand in shaping them to help our members be the best professionals they can be. I hope to see our members not clinging to the past but having taken bold, deliberate steps into the future fully equipped to embrace every changing scenario that may encounter.
— Joanne Barry, executive director and CEO, New York State Society of CPAs
I hope my legacy will be that of someone saying that I helped them achieve their goals. I have already had students come back to me after leaving college to tell me that I changed their lives for the better based on my advice. I have had clients thank me for saving them dollars by not doing or doing certain deals. On a pure personal basis, I hope to be remembered for being an educator, teacher, father, mentor to others — as well as being an almost-great pickleball player.
— David Bergstein, chief innovation officer, Bergstein CPA
That I had a hand in developing professionals who through their efforts as well, have gone on to serve their companies and firms in a competent and ethical manner.
— Michael Bernard, chief tax officer, transaction tax, Vertex
I would like to be known for positioning the firm for the long term by achieving sustainable growth through prudent investments and smart strategy. BDO USA started in a single room on Manhattan’s Lower East Side over one hundred years ago and is now more than 8,000 employees strong and part of a global organization spanning over 167 countries. It is up to us to continue building a company that helps our people thrive so that BDO can be here for the next one hundred years, bringing trusted technical advice and innovative ideas to our clients while being a respected resource in our communities.
— Wayne Berson, CEO, BDO USA LLP
The two people (AccountantsWorld co-founders, Sharada and I) who had a genuine passion for the accounting profession and devoted a significant part of their lives to make accounting practices more relevant and rewarding.
— Chandra Bhansali, co-founder, AccountantsWorld
Successfully raising two kids into adulthood, while simultaneously starting a company to benefit the accounting profession.
— Sharada Bhansali, co-founder, AccountantsWorld
As the CEO of an organization whose primary mission is to enhance the effectiveness of State Boards of Accountancy, I would hope that my legacy will be that I was effective in providing the tools and support needed to accomplish the organization’s mission.
— Ken Bishop, president and CEO, NASBA
I hope to have helped evolve governmental accounting and financial reporting for the data and information age—and help the GASB assume its proper role in that evolution.
— Joel Black, chair, GASB
I hope my legacy will be that I helped the people around me–personally and professionally –to be better.
— Jim Boomer, CEO, Boomer Consulting Inc.
Dot Connector. Someone who has helped transform the profession in order to sustain success and remain future-ready.Think-Plan-Grow!
— L. Gary Boomer, founder, visionary & strategist, Boomer Consulting Inc.
Jim was right, we should have migrated to the cloud and leveraged technology to grow advisory services a long time ago. He had the crystal ball into the future of the profession.
— Jim Bourke, Managing director of advisory services, WithumSmith+Brown
Accounting is a living, breathing profession that continues to evolve with the needs of society. It’s origins date back to 300 BC where tokens and bookkeeping scripts were discovered in Iran, and later rose to greater prominence in the 1400s in Italy during the Renaissance, where double-entry bookkeeping was used by Venetian merchants. And since the time of Luca Pacioli, the father of modern accounting, we have continued to progress, today leveraging emerging technologies, like machine learning, artificial intelligence and more.
As I continue through my career, it is my desire to continue to build onto the foundations of prior accounting leaders. And when I oneday retire, it’s my hope that I’ve left the accounting profession better, more evolved and well suited for future challenges that the next generation of accountants may encounter.
Simply, businesses and participants in the capital markets rely on credible, quality financials, and it is my hope that my efforts in the profession, both through my public service and in the private sector, make the contributions of accounting and assurance professionals more relevant and valuable than ever before.
— Wes Bricker, vice chair and US & Mexico assurance leader, PwC US
I would love for my legacy to influence others that you can be a nice, optimistic person and still be a professional. That you can do your best, without falling on your sword every day or causing undue stress to others. And, that talking about something doesn’t mean you’re doing it, it just means you recognize times and people change so healthy debate is almost always a good idea.
— Jennifer Briggs, president & CEO, Indiana CPA Society
My hope is that through my hard work and commitment to the profession that I will help as many people as I can and be remembered as someone who did their best to leave people better than I found them.
— Dawn Brolin, president, Powerful Accounting Inc.
I hope my legacy is being a professional with unwavering focus on people (clients), an inventor, an innovator and a steward of the new digital asset economy.
— Noah Buxton, director and practice lead, blockchain & digital assets, Armanino LLP
This is a particularly timely question for me as I made the decision earlier this year to step down as President and CEO of The IIA in March 2021. I hope that my most important legacy will be that I left the organization stronger than I found it when I arrived in 2009 and that, as I have seized every opportunity to share my love of the profession, I have inspired thousands of men and women around the world to embrace the profession with enthusiasm and purpose.
In little more than a decade at The IIA, I have presided over an organization that, during that time, has reached important milestones in membership, certifications, conferences, and training. As I step away, I rest assured knowing that The IIA is ready for the new opportunities that new leadership will bring.
— Richard Chambers, president and CEO, Institute of Internal Auditors
Hope to be remembered as an agent of change – inspiring practitioners to constantly seek “smarter, better” ways to do what they do – leveraging technology and applying their expertise to create amazing value for their clients. And of course…HAVE FUN!
— David Cieslak, EVP, chief cloud officer, RKL eSolutions LLC
I would like to be known as a change agent for the profession and the person who led the transformation and expanded value proposition of the CPA designation – leaving a vibrant, highly skilled and nimble pipeline for decades to come.
— Sue Coffey, EVP, public practice, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
The greatest satisfaction is in knowing that the things I accomplished had a positive effect on someone’s else’s life, be it a friend, a colleague, or a future accountant.
— Susan Cosper, Board member, Financial Accounting Standards Board
She brought a significantly higher level of understanding and sophistication to how accounting firms grow, and helped them achieve high growth environments.
— Gale Crosley, president and founder, Crosely+Co.
That I will have had a positive impact on the people in my life including family, friends, colleagues and business associates, and helped to change our profession for the better.
— Kevin Cumley, senior director, Sage Intacct Accountants Program, Sage
To be viewed by others as a leader with vision and integrity during these transformative times.
— Kevin Dancey, CEO, International Federation of Accountants
Strong leader in improving inclusion and diversity in our firm/profession and forward-looking leader who helped guide the firm into many innovative initiatives.
— Ted Dickman, CEO, governing board chair, BKD CPAs & Advisors
That I have empowered others.
— Sarah Dobek, president and founder, Inovautus Consulting
To have helped bring about a more conscious, evolved form of leadership to the accounting profession and the world at large. I hope the world will be filled with leaders who lead with not just their minds, but their hearts, too. I hope more leaders step up into that bigger version of who they are to create the possibilities we desperately need.
— Sarah Elliott, co-founder & principal, Intend2Lead LLC
I am hoping that instead of “thinking outside the box”, others will be more open to “not seeing a box”. My career has been a series of ANDs and I want others to understand that accounting is an amazing foundation regardless of their career path.
As a leader who focuses on Inclusion, I hope that a little girl who grew up in the inner city of Baltimore who became a CPA, the first underrepresented minority Chairman of AICPA, a technology leader with a MSIT from Carnegie Mellon University, adjunct professor at CMU teaching Emerging Technologies and Innovation and who is also a wife and mother of 2 sons is an example of what intention and allyship can achieve.
— Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, executive director – finance thought leadership, cloud business group, Oracle
I very much would like my legacy to be a recognition of the passion I have for the accounting profession and my contribution in developing future leadership.
— Domenick Esposito, CEO, Esposito CEO2CEO LLC
I’ve committed my full professional life to supporting the accounting profession. And my hope is that I can be remembered as a positive influence, working with the individual accountants and their firms as they’ve navigated the risk changes that have impacted their work lives. I hope that when CPAs think of me they believe I have been a trusted advisor to the profession. I take pride in the individual consultations that I have had with CPAs focused on growing their businesses while being sensitive to risk issues. Aiding firms in identifying solutions that would help remediate risk has been extremely satisfying.
— Alvin Fennell III
Well, I think I still have some time to go in the profession before I put away my abacus. But seriously, there is legislation, “The Taxpayer Protection and Preparer Proficiency Act (S.1192/H.R. 3330)”, that unfortunately will not be passed before the end of the current legislative session. This bill would give the Treasury Department, therefore the IRS, the authority to regulate tax return preparers, negating the Loving ruling. With everything that has happened in 2020, it is more imperative than ever that preparers be required to have the current knowledge of the Tax Code and related laws. It is my hope that this legislation be reintroduced in the next Congress, and eventually signed into law.
— Neil Fishman, president, National Conference of CPA Practitioners
I hope to be remembered for having helped others grow and thrive.
— Lisa Fitzpatrick, president, Bloomberg Tax & Accounting
That I helped move accounting marketing from an art form to a science.
— Lee Frederiksen, managing partner, Hinge
I would like for people to remember me for making a difference in the D&I space. That, because of my passion, drive and determination, they can look around and see more people like me working in the profession.
— Herschel Frierson, chairman of the board of directors, National Association of Black Accountants
I want to be known as the person who shattered the accountant stereotype. I also want to be known for helping people to see that who they are is so much more than what they do. I’m working to change these perceptions and help the profession to accept each person for being themselves instead of how much they “act like an accountant.” My research has shown that when we stop trying to conform to an archaic stereotype of what a successful accountant acts like, people in the profession are happier – at work and in life. They’re also more engaged and more productive. In the end, my dream is that one day soon, along with firefighter or astronaut, kids will say, “When I grow up, I want to be an accountant!”
— John Garrett, senior financial analyst, Clarian Health Partners
I’d like to be remembered as someone who lifted people up in the profession, who served as a good role model. Providing sponsorships and mentorships has been important to me throughout my career. Even though I’m retired now, I am excited about helping share all of what’s great about our profession so students, CPA candidates and current young CPAs can see what great opportunities a CPA career provides and how it can take you so many places.
— Tracey Golden, Chair, AICPA and Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
My legacy will be my work in DC to assure that all Americans have a solid tax law that allows them and our economy to grow without the unintended consequences of passing bad tax law that only benefits the large lobbyists and their clients. My goal is to also make the United States more competitive in the world in terms of tax laws that bring commerce to the United States ….and ultimately through ETS and the acquisition of The Growth Partnership and ABLE (CRM made by CPAs for CPAs)…give the CPA community the tools that will allow them to grow in terms of leadership, marketing resources…that ultimately allow their clients to benefit from the great tax incentives they rightfully deserve by investing in the United States.
— Julio Gonzalez, CEO, Engineered Tax Services, The Growth Partnership and ABLE
I’ve been asked this question a lot this year and it’s evolved since I stepped into the role of CEO two years ago.
I hope my legacy is two-fold: One is of someone that cared for our customers and our employees — that in the middle of a once-in-a-century global crisis, I did my best to help power prosperity for small businesses, accountants and consumers as well as our employees. Two, I hope I’m remembered by leading inclusively, doing everything I could to make a mark at Intuit to champion diversity and inclusion, and to create a respectful environment where all voices and perspectives were valued and included to inform our decisions.
— Sasan Goodarzi, CEO, Intuit
There is nothing more important to me in my role than creating a culture where everyone belongs – a culture where everyone feels free to bring their best, most authentic selves to work. To that end, I’m personally committed to driving positive and enduring change, both internally and outside of EY – leveraging our powerful platform on policy matters and those we do business with, as well as directing our community support to challenge some of the systemic impediments that have impacted those in underprivileged communities for far too long.
We, as a firm and as a growth leader in the market, must ensure our culture demonstrates the commitments we’ve made relative to belonging and D&I, because if it does not, then I as a leader will have failed. This outcome is far more important to me than any achievement I can complete professionally.
I’ve learned that you don’t get to choose whether or not you’re a role a model – you only get to choose what kind of role model you’re going to be. What matters to me most in my role at EY today is this: how do we make the world around us a better place, while we are also succeeding as an organization?
It’s my mission to lead this organization through incredible transformation and change, while also staying true to our values and truly building a better, more equal world around us – to be a growth leader, but more importantly, a change leader.
— Kelly Grier, U.S. chair and managing partner and Americas managing partner, EY
I would like to be known as someone who opened doors for other people and who made a difference in the lives of leaders, professionals and people in general. I am deeply passionate about empowering people and giving them a voice. I am also passionate about giving people the tools, encouragement and confidence to overcome obstacles. I have been faced with massive hurdles in my professional and personal life ranging from overcoming discrimination (age and gender) to navigating difficult business challenges as well as overcoming a lot of personal loss (parents, brother) and other barriers that would shut a lot of people down. Having the experiences I have faced and working to push through them and learn from them strengthens my desire to be a voice in the profession and beyond for people who want to operate at their highest and best use. I want people to feel that if I was part of their life, I helped them to feel encouraged, valued, capable and powerful. Everyone deals with struggles and I want to be a voice that empowers and propels people.
— Angie Grissom, owner, chief relationship officer, The Rainmaker Companies
My hope is that I can look back and clearly see that I helped to make financial reporting better for private companies.
— Thomas Groskopf, technical director, AICPA Center for Plain English Accounting; assurance service line leader, Barnes, Dennig & Co.
We need a system for sustainability accounting that has the commensurate level of maturity, trust, credibility, and acceptance as financial accounting. I hope to contribute to that reality.
— Janine Guillot, CEO, SASB
Professionally, I would like to be remembered as a professor who was devoted to advancing the profession for the long-term benefit of society.
— Jeffrey Hales, chair, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
To have elevated and accelerated the upskilling and reskilling of our Profession so that we can thrive in this era of accelerating, exponential change while increasing our human dimension and impact. This means we continue to rise in our capabilities to help business and individuals achieve their dreams as experts in the language of business, making sense of this changing and complex world.
— Tom Hood, CEO, Maryland Association of CPAs & Business Learning Institute
Adding value. I would hope the employees at The Growth Partnership, the clients I work with and the audience to whom I speak would all say that I added value each time we interacted. This hope is what fuels me to stay within the accounting profession (vs. expanding to other verticals with my work), learn as much as I can each day and stretch my boundaries of consulting I do.
— Charles Hylan, managing director, The Growth Partnership
That both NMGI and K2 can continue to operate successfully when I finally decide to retire. The management teams and front-line staff seem to be in a position to do this today.
Stated separately, “That everywhere that Randy went, and for everything he touched, there was an improvement. He always led the way on every significant technology from 1970 through 2030.” (Hopefully, I can work that long or longer.)
— Randy Johnston, CEO and founder, EVP, NMGI and K2 Enterprises
As chair of the FASB, I hope to enhance the value of the independent standard-setting process through continuous improvement of standards fueled by diverse stakeholder input.
— Richard Jones, chair, FASB
I hope to be remembered for investing in the lives and careers of the extraordinary people around me. For delivering incredible service to clients, earning their trust and creating long-term relationships that add value all around. Finally, I want to be remembered for “paying it forward” to the next generation of this firm and industry — opening as many doors for others as have been opened for me.
— Kathryn Kaminsky, vice chair, US and Mexico Tax Leader, PwC
Having a legacy that is associated with honesty and transparency. As a leader, I trusted my gut, was courageous enough to take calculated risks, and was patient enough to overcome inevitable mistakes. In addition, I was open to a reinvention process that focused on adaptation and continuous discovery.
From an outsider’s perspective, I hope this translated into measurable tax policy and administrative improvements. For those I worked with, I hope it inspired respect, happiness and engagement.
— Edward Karl, vice president, tax policy and advocacy, AICPA
I would like to be remembered as a good guy that helped firms be better and more confident about the technology and process transformation choices they were making.
— Roman Kepczyk, director, firm technology strategy, Right Networks
I hope that I’ve helped people better understand and manage the complex changes confronted annually within the accounting profession.
— Sidney Kess, senior consultant, Citrin Cooperman; of counsel, Kostelanetz & Fink
I want my legacy to be defined by LOVE: Love for my family and love for helping others. I want people to know that I deeply cared for them and dedicated my time, treasure, and talents to meaningful causes. I want to be an example for others to push themselves to learn new skills and mentor others to improve their skills to open new and better opportunities. When people think of me, I want them to smile, feel positive, and be inspired to contribute.
— Elizabeth Pittelkow Kittner, VP of finance and HR, International Legal Technology Association
“He helped bring subscription pricing to the profession.”
— Ed Kless, senior director of partner development and strategy, Sage
As I began my term, I told our people at KPMG that inclusion and diversity is our legacy issue and that I want to be accountable for leading our firm in a way that drives meaningful change. To that end, on the first day of my tenure as Chair and CEO, I launched a strategic five-year plan called Accelerate 2025, which will ensure that more individuals from underrepresented groups choose KPMG as their employer of choice, build careers at KPMG, and advance to leadership positions within our firm and within the profession. It’s an important business imperative, but it’s also the right thing to do as we live our values and strive for equity.
— Paul Knopp, U.S. Chair and CEO, KPMG LLP
I hope firms will say that I had a major impact on their firm and was able to coach them through some of their most difficult challenges.
— Allan Koltin, CEO, Koltin Consulting Group Inc.
I feel like you’re asking me to write my headstone. Ouch. I think part of my legacy has started with what I left behind at AICPA. I’ve had several reach out to me saying that they always appreciated my candor—keeping it real, while still focusing on helping firms change. I think being a quality change agent who cared passionately about the profession and would do everything to advance it would be what I’d like to be remembered for.
— Mark Koziel, president & CEO, Allinial Global
That I leave a legacy of people who are good at developing and prioritizing relationships, as the backbone of an effective career in public accounting.
— Art Kuesel, president and founder, Kuesel Consulting Inc.
I hope people will feel I encouraged them to go deeper into themselves to find out what kind of leader they can be when they lead from the inside-out. When we all truly uncover what we care about, we lead and influence and impact others more positively.
I also want people to say I brought love to them and to what I do. Love to me is two-fold: you embrace who you are right now in this very moment, and you also embrace who you are becoming. When we can do both simultaneously, we open up possibilities. We come together. We accept each other. In the end, love wins.
— Brian Kush, principal and co-founder, Intend2Lead LLC
I drove innovation that has enabled people to do their best work, while building a company that did the same.
— René Lacerte, CEO and founder, Bill.com
Currently, I focused on Melio becoming my “Magnum Appus”
I also fully believe that the work I’ve done at Intuit with Small Business owners, Accountants, Bookkeepers, and App Developers has had immeasurable ripples around the world.
— David Leary, director of accounting & bookkeeping evangelism, Melio
To many a legacy is a mark made on an industry. Most people will remember Bill Gates as the founder or Microsoft, but I would rather remember Bill Gates as a philanthropist who donated much of his wealth to help others. I have a loving family that continues to expand as time goes on, so I hope to be remembered as a good and fun husband, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather (someday). If I am remembered as a CPA industry catalyst as well, that will simply be a bonus.
— Bob Lewis, president, The Visionary Group
Fulfilling my vision for the CAQ—that is, that the CAQ is the recognized leader – inside and outside of the profession – on all things public company auditing, whether convener, thought leader or resource provider.
— Julie Bell Lindsay, executive director, CAQ
That I helped accounting firms diversify and build successful accounting technology practices.
— Taylor Macdonald, SVP, channel sales, Sage Intacct
In broad terms, raising global awareness of the critical role CPAs and management accountants play in everyday people’s lives and the fabric of society. It was under my watch that we launched a program for Young CPAs, created a financial literacy program that made a difference in the lives of so many, and built our social media landscape. Within my own organization, I hope I’m remembered as a driver of diversity and inclusion as well as innovation in how communications contributes to organizational strategy and success.
— Janice Maiman, EVP, communications, PR and content, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
I have the distinct pleasure of managing a very talented team, including some people I have now worked with closely for more than a decade. I hope every one of them looks back on their careers and feels I afforded them the same opportunity to learn and grow that’s been afforded to me.
— Charles Maniace, vice president, regulatory analysis & design, Sovos
I have a favorite quote to share on the point. . . “A leader’s legacy is only as strong as the foundation they leave behind that allows others to continue to advance the organization.” -Simon Sinek
— Jason Marx, president & CEO, Tax & Accounting North America, Wolters Kluwer
My legacy will be an international empire that remembers me as founding empress and tells fantastical stories that could not possibly be true! Jokes aside, I truly want to leave an indelible mark from where the rocket burned a new trajectory into the profession. I hope people will remember how hard I fought for the humans of our profession to utilize innovative tech and live better lives.
— Liz Mason, CEO & founder, High Rock Accounting
Founder of multiple businesses, including The Income Tax School; Founding Chairman of the Virginia Council of CEOs. Contributor in many ways to the Greater Richmond Community. Being able to achieve success despite very significant childhood/family difficulties.
— Chuck McCabe, president & founder, The Income Tax School
First and foremost, of greatest importance is for my wife and kids to be proud of me. Next, that I built businesses that helped people improve their lives, whether by solving for the complexity of compliance, or getting and staying in shape by exercising. I’d also want to be known for challenging the status quo, and in the process growing Avalara from zero to over $1B in revenue, while remaining authentic to who and what I am as a person and a leader.
— Scott McFarlane, co-founder & CEO, Avalara
I hope that the decade I have spent single-mindedly pursuing moving the Profession to the Cloud will be remembered as influential.
— Jim McGinnis, EVP/GM, professional market segment, Tax and Accounting North America, Wolters Kluwer
I’ll let others determine the legacy.
— Barry Melancon, president and CEO, AICPA; CEO, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
That I helped my fellow accountants do better jobs running their practices, servicing their clients and retaining and growing their staff; and that I was someone my clients could truly trust and rely on for the right advice, guidance and counsel in their most critical moments.
— Ed Mendlowitz, emeritus partner, WithumSmith+Brown
That I helped the accounting profession become better skilled, more strategic and diverse/inclusive professionals who are comfortable with technology and embrace broader concepts such as sustainable business and multi-capital business models.
— Brad Monterio, chief learning officer and VP of member competency and learning, California Association of CPAs
I hope my legacy will be in moving the needle and truly diversifying the profession. I also want to pass this mindset onto the teams that I lead in the hope that they too will pay it forward. All of this would make my career worth it.
I’m a servant leader and an advent user of the Team of Leaders approach. I empower my teams to make decisions and act as a coach instead of a micro-manager. Equally as important to my leadership style is amassing diverse times as this not only creates the best environments and culture, it’s also a competitive advantage to a company’s success.
Diversity and inclusion are top priorities of my leadership. In my previous role as CFO of Insidesource I built an accounting and finance team that was not only qualified for their roles, but diverse in most meaningful metrics. This was a team of 25 people that went from zero CPAs in the finance and accounting department to four CPAs I hired in management positions. Also, 75% of my managers were women and the team was geographically diverse hailing from the US (east, south, west and north) Africa, Syria, Indonesia, India and Fiji.
In my current role as CAO of Reputation.com I’m laser focused on increasing our diversity. My first three hires include two women (CPAs) and of man of Indian decent. I’m also focusing on increasing the number of Black CPAs as the Chair of the National Society of Black CPAs.
— Shannon Nash, chair, National Society of Black CPAs
That I made a difference. Nothing makes me happier than receiving emails from clients when they make partner, or managing partner, or whatever promotion they were after and they tell me that they “couldn’t have done it” without me. That’s what drives me. I hope I am remembered as someone who helped her clients uncover their strengths and made them the best possible version of themselves. That would be enough.
— Adelaide Ness, chief learning officer, The Rainmaker Companies
My leaf act will be that I was a positive change agent for the profession spanning six decades.
— Jay Nisberg, management consultant
I want to help every accountant learn how to look forward. (And to be a good dad.)
— Blake Oliver, director of marketing, Jirav
To know that firms have changed their business models to evolve and remain relevant in the future. Technology is one piece of the puzzle, but the best part will be the culture that allows for a more balanced life and equality based on results not on hours. This will allow for women to compete equally and for all CPAs to have a better quality of life.
— Jody Padar, vice president of strategy, Botkeeper
I want to enable the accounting industry in a way that provides a lasting impact felt 3 generations from now.
— Enrico Palmerino, founder & CEO, Botkeeper
If one is locked inside a room with no windows and doors, and daylight bulbs on, a human can’t estimate how much time has elapsed. Time. It is one thing human senses cannot fathom easily. A human can fathom distance, temperature, wind, taste, smell, and sight but not time. We all know every human has finite time on this earth, yet we act as if it is unlimited because we can’t “sense” time. But the relatively short time we all get is enough for leaving a legacy.
I would want to be remembered as someone who left behind a human vision and practical insights that help people become successful and feel truly fulfilled in their lives. I believe my legacy should not be just remembered with my name but actually be used as a framework to enhance and brighten humankind’s future. I will have done my job on this earth if accountants become masters of understanding human behavior. If that happens, it can inspire people to actually seek and leverage accountants’ expertise and experience. Accountants should remember me as someone who inspired them to be a relentless exponent of being human first, and always; to become the business and value builder, and then being an accountant.
— Hitendra Patil, director of practice development, AccountantsWorld
I hope to change the services offered by tax accountants in order to provide sustainability in their roles and better value to their clients.
— Gail Perry, editor-in-chief, CPA Practice Advisor; owner, Gail Perry CPA
I hope to be recognized as having truly made a positive impact on small firm owners.
— Carl Peterson, VP – small firm interests, AICPA
I hope my legacy will be that friends, family, and coworkers will say that I never said no to any request.
— Scott Peterson, VP, U.S. tax policy and government relations, Avalara
I had a client tell me recently that I was a blessing to them because I helped them see what their organization should look like, and the roles that they needed to fill, in order to fulfill the vision they have for their firm. I hope I get to do that 1,000 more times in my career because I think my legacy will be helping people improve their lives and their businesses.
— Jeff Phillips, CEO, Padgett Business Services
I hope my legacy will be that I gave back to others. That I gave back to the next generation of women leaders and that I leveraged my talents and strengths to also give back to my community. That is why I coach and mentor up and coming women leaders in my company, host the Women’s Tax Network in Philadelphia, a group of women tax professionals in the Mid-Atlantic area who meet quarterly to talk about tax and women’s leadership issues & challenges, and am currently using my accounting and tax knowledge to support a local non-profit, Unite for Her, which provides education and support for women fighting breast and ovarian cancer, a program I have supported for 10 years and am also an alumni of as a six year cancer survivor. Giving back and supporting other women is key for me.
— Bernadette Pinamont, vice president, tax research, Vertex Inc.
My personal goal is to always leave things better than I found them, whether it’s a small thing like solving a problem for a staff person or a member, or a large thing like changing our profession for the better. In terms of legacy, I hope that our members feel that the MSCPA is better meeting their needs, is more accessible and helps them be more successful because of the programs and initiatives I have implemented with the amazing team I work with. But my real dream is that I can shift our firms and our profession in Massachusetts, just a little, to be more forward-thinking and open to the things that will make them more successful, including embracing technology, their role as trusted advisor and the importance of becoming more inclusive and diverse. I would also love it if our high school and middle school programs would encourage low-income and minority kids to be inspired to consider accounting and business, along with STEM, to be a great career with unlimited options for their future.
— Amy Pitter, president & CEO, Massachusetts Society of CPAs
I’d like to be remembered as someone who helped the accounting profession change how it delivers value to clients — combining innovation, insights and quality. In addition, I’d like to be remembered as someone who helped our profession be more representative of our diverse and inclusive nation. Finally, I’d like to be remembered as a loving husband, father and friend who acted as a servant leader demonstrating professionalism, care and integrity.
— Bradley Preber, CEO, Grant Thornton LLP
That I was able to move the needle in attracting underrepresented populations into the profession, thereby making it more robust for future needs that are already present. And that I was a strong advocate in supporting the profession’s move into new lines of business via technology disruption and regulatory/legislative change.
— Anthony Pugliese, president and CEO, California Association of CPAs
I want to be remembered as a consultant that firms could count on to do whatever it took to solve their problem.
— Terrence Putney, CEO, Transition Advisors LLC
I hope to be remembered as an empathetic leader who has led teams through a people-first approach. When COVID-19 first beegan impacting our partner firms in March, I challenged our team to set a goal of talking to every Xero partner within 90 days to see how they were doing and how we could support them. In some cases, this meant helping firms get set up to work remotely, providing government resources to work through PPP loans or finding new ways for the Xero community to connect and learn from one another. At Xero, our value of being a #human company allows us to put people front and center and this guides many of my
principles as a leader.
As someone who has grown up in the accounting profession, I hope to be remembered for helping to make the industry more diverse and an exciting career path for people entering the field. I firmly believe the accounting profession can be seen as just as exciting as other industries like technology. Accountants and bookkeepers are trusted business advisors. They serve as a key member of a small business’ team and can help them reach their full potential and are in a unique position to help small businesses grow and reach their full potential.
— Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager, Xero
Personally, I’d be thrilled for my grandkids to consider me even half the grandma my own grandma was… Professionally, I’d hope I can be remembered as the person who took a fantastic theory (value-based pricing) and created practical application approaches that even Top 100 accounting firms were eager to apply and adopt. Some business friends say I have a knack for making the complex seem simple.
No Top 100 firm had committed to a 100% up-front pricing model before 2014 when I helped Horne LLP institutionalize the Advanced Pricing Model. Then K·Coe Isom, then Wipfli, and several more Top 100 firms since. Prior to 2014 only solos and small firms had made the transition. I believe that my CPA marketing/positioning background helped me fold pricing and “worth” (I don’t use the term “value,” it’s got too much baggage) into the total client experience approach that resonates so well in the professional services space. I’ve had almost no push back at all with the model.
— Michelle Golden River, President, Fore LLC
I want to be the wizard – the man behind the curtain. I want to help people discover what they had all along.
— Richard Roppa-Roberts, founder, Quasar Cowboy
I hope to be remembered as an accounting professional who helped usher in a new model for running an accounting firm. Someone who truly cares about the profession overall—a legacy of education and forward thinking.
— Darren Root, GM, Rootworks LLC
I have been consulting to CPA firms for over 20 years. No other consultant has done more to educate and inform legions of CPAs on practice management issues with the written word – books, blogs and surveys – than me. My hope is that my materials will continue to be highly regarded and useful to CPA firms long after I am gone from the scene.
— Marc Rosenberg, president, The Rosenberg Associates
I hope that my work and efforts can play a small role in a more diverse and inclusive profession. I strongly believe that paving the way for more inclusivity and diverse thoughts and perspectives will lead to a thriving accounting industry for many years to come. On a more micro level, I care deeply about the customers we serve at Thomson Reuters, and through our focus on accountants’ needs we strive to provide leading edge, intuitive, tax, accounting and audit solutions, that help automate workflows to enable accountants to increase efficiency and to become trusted and strategic advisors to their clients. As we are seeing more and more accountants transition to advisory work with their clients, I hope we can continue to be a trusted partner and help them succeed in this endeavor.
— Charlotte Rushton, president, Tax & Accounting Professionals, Thomson Reuters
When I took over the role of PwC US’ chair just over four years ago, I told my leadership team that if all I accomplished during my tenure was to improve our firm’s financials, I would have failed at my job. In 2017, I told FastCompany that “I will have to consider it a personal epic failure if all I do is grow PwC by 20%” but don’t make real change in our society, particularly as it comes to diversity and inclusion. For me personally, I hope to leave a lasting impact on the diversity of our firm’s workforce, the accounting profession, and the workforce of corporate America.
— Tim Ryan, chair and senior partner, PwC US
Hopefully to be a good listener and to help improve financial reporting through continuous improvement efforts.
— Hillary Salo, technical director and chair of emerging issues task force, FASB
I hope my legacy will be that I inspired accountants to lead their clients proactively through change by embracing new technology and learning the skills needed to fully understand and master it.
— Heather Satterley, CPA, Satterley Training & Consulting
Help as many people and firms that I am able to in my career.
— Gary Shamis, CEO, Winding River Consulting
I hope that I am remembered as someone who positively impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of legal service standards and delivery with the humility and generosity of a servant-leader who helps others be the best version of themselves.
— Russell Shapiro, member, department chair – transactional group, executive committee member, Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC
I hope that my legacy will be that I was passionate about enhancing the value of the CPA profession. Whether that meant talking to hundreds if not thousands of CPAs every year to understanding their challenges or pushing the profession to ensure its relevance by accepting change in the face of a rapidly changing environment.
— Todd Shapiro, president and CEO, Illinois CPA Society
I want be seen as the person who unified and re-inspired the profession to transform accounting to provide peace of mind, vision & clarify, and hope for a better future to all of the constituents and communities that we serve.
— Donny Shimamoto, managing director, IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC
It’s two-fold. Because becoming a CPA was one of the best decisions of my life, I hope to support the profession by continuing to offer opportunity and growth for others. Additionally, I want to be remembered as someone who helps others meet their goals, understand their strengths and laugh along the way.
— Lisa Simpson, director, firm services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
To leave the profession, it’s clients, and the public that depends on accountants’ expertise, independence and objectivity a little better off.
— Rick Telberg, CEO and founder, CPA Trendlines Research
I hope to have provided the means to have a much more diverse and inclusive profession. D&I is more than just awareness; actionable steps at all levels of the profession — from interns to partners — are needed to ensure true progress is made. I continually work towards this endeavor, whether it’s encouraging students, motivating aspiring CPAs, interacting with academic leaders or having a sit-down with managing partners.
— Ralph Thomas, CEO and executive director, New Jersey Society of CPAs
I hope my legacy will be to have strengthened IMA, a more-than-a-century-old organization, not just in size and scope but in reputation, respect and relationships. I also hope I will have contributed to cultivating a better understanding of where our profession is heading, preparing a new generation for the demands of a changing world.
— Jeff Thomson, president and CEO, Institute of Management Accountants
It is a priority for me to preserve Deloitte’s long-standing culture of purpose and our history of driving diversity, equity, and inclusion from the top down within our organization, and more broadly, throughout the industry and Corporate America. Deloitte stands against the legacy of systemic bias, racism, and unequal treatment that continues to plague our communities, and we are dedicated to the transformation of society that must occur. We are committed to supporting our communities, through substantial investments and pro bono efforts for a number of organizations that are fighting for social justice, tackling employment and wealth inequality, and creating educational opportunities for underserved communities. We are also collaborating across the marketplace with other organizations to drive accountability and make a real impact. As CEO, I am committed to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion from the top—it’s only when the entire C-suite steps up to own diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts that a company will thrive.
— Joe Ucuzoglu, CEO, Deloitte US
I hope I have contributed to a new way for businesses and governments to work together, based on pragmatic dialogue and sharing of objectives rather than publishing policy papers to each other, as well as to the development of a new generation of software that converts legal code into computer code.
— Christiaan Van Der Valk, VP, strategy, Sovos
That I helped the profession create healthier technology, work and personal habits to find happiness in the work they do, and in their personal lives. Rather than feeling that there is only one path to success and that they have to leave the profession if they don’t like it, they learn to align their passions and purpose with opportunities in the profession without compromising their health or individual interests outside of work.
— Amy Vetter, CEO, The B3 Method Institute
Driving lasting change in the accounting profession.
— Garrett Wagner, CEO/founder, C3 Evolution Group, C3 Advisory, C3 Financial
Xero believes in an “inside-out” approach to the customer’s experience, meaning a workplace where people can do the best work of their lives, on behalf of our customers. So when I first joined Xero, I shared that I want us to be known for building great teams and leaders. Years ago, I was asked what my epitaph would be for my work career and I said “to build a factory of world class leaders.” We’re a company of inclusion, aspiration and very serious intent about career development. It’s important to me that people can grow their careers at Xero and honestly feel they’re motivated to do the best work of their lives.
— Tony Ward, president, Xero Americas, Xero
That I was kind, supportive, direct, honest and that I touched people personally and inspired them to believe in themselves and reach for a greater version of themselves.
— Cari Weston, director – tax practice & ethics, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
That I have positively changed the life of at least one person who heard my message at a time when they really needed it.
— Geni Whitehouse, countess of communication, Brotemarkle Davis & Co.; Solve Services; Even A Nerd Can be Heard
From a professional perspective, three things:
— Mike Whitmire, co-founder, FloQast
That I lived my purpose:God first, family second and leadership a strong third. If I make decisions with these priorities in place, I will leave this world better thanI came into it. That Would be a pretty amazing legacy.
— Sandra Wiley, president, Boomer Consulting Inc.
That I invested in others and shared my knowledge and ideas generously to help other people be and do better.
— Jennifer Wilson, co-founder and partner, ConvergenceCoaching LLC
I want to be remembered as someone who championed the profession and loved accountants – each accountant, not just the profession as a whole. I want to be remembered as someone who helped accountants to thrive amid disruptive impacts and to build enduring, technology-driven, distinctive, and highly effective practices.
— Joe Woodard, CEO, Woodard
I hope to be an example to others that anyone can get involved in the profession and make a difference, regardless of your location, education, or background. I’m constantly amazed by the caliber of professionals I’m surrounded by in this profession; this may intimidate some people out of getting more involved due to fear that you’re not educated enough, experienced enough, etc. But in reality, anybody with the determination to lead and to make a difference can contribute.
— Candace Wright, chair, Private Company Council
Addressing this from a professional perspective, I would like to be remembered as a technical expert who elevated mainstream awareness of state and local tax issues through development of distinctive thought leadership. On a more personal note, I would like to be remembered for being a supportive father, a devoted husband and a responsible son – knowing that while no one can make all of the right decisions when faced with challenges involving family, I spent an incredible amount of energy trying to make things better for everyone.
— Jamie Yesnowitz, principal, state and local tax, Washington national tax office, Grant Thornton
I hope my legacy will be the elevation of the sales tax professional from the “red-headed stepchild” to a valued and respected member of the tax profession. I’ve heard from a number of people how I helped them feel valued and have empowered them to succeed in their role.
— Diane Yetter, president and founder, Yetter Consulting Services & Sales Tax Institute
When I stop for a moment and think about what I want my legacy to be, I think of my good friend and mentor, Sid Kess, a true sage within the CPA profession if there ever was one. Sid is a pioneer of education. He started the first big conferences that brought industry leaders, practitioners, and everyone within this ecosystem together under one roof to become a dedicated marketplace of ideas. He made it a point to seek out, train, and develop the next generation of speakers to raise the bar for the individual practitioner and the profession. Sid once said that he saw me as “…a pioneer who has revolutionized the field of education,” and as someone who has, “…discovered some outstanding new stars in the profession and he’s opened the door to thousands of practitioners who are looking for free high-quality CPE.” In my mind, Sid is the true pioneer who is now passing the proverbial baton along. He is challenging me to carry on his work for the next stage of this revolution while training the next generation of speakers.
I want to seize on this moment and Sid’s confidence to take my business to the next level as a positive, much-needed change agent in the profession. I want this to be a sea change moment where CPAacademy.org is known as the company that shifted the accounting credentialing model from paid to free, much in the way that Craigslist or Wikipedia brought access to their respective niches to the masses. By offering the highest quality CPE at little to no cost, our goal is to ultimately drive down the costs associated with CPE and then education as a whole.
— Scott Zarret, president, CPAacademy.org
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