insight magazine

A Challenge From Your Chair

Now’s the time to share your story. Now’s the time to inspire the next generation of CPAs. By Lisa Hartkopf, CPA, Partner, Americas Internal Audit Leader, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP | Spring 2017


My father worked in finance for many years. I must have picked it up from him, because I was always good with numbers, too. Who knew taking an elective accounting class back in high school would have led me here, a partner at Ernst & Young LLP and the Board Chair of the Illinois CPA Society.

That first week of “accounting” was spent figuring out what accounting actually was, but it didn’t take long to see that accounting was the right direction for me. I hope that my story can inspire the next generation of accounting and finance students and young professionals to follow suit and pursue the credential that has opened so many doors for me—the CPA.

From my start in external audit at Arthur Andersen, to my time in mergers and acquisitions with EY, to being one of the few women leading a practice in the rapidly growing advisory side of the profession, not a day goes by where my accounting degree and training as a CPA don’t play critical roles in helping me make important business decisions. And the importance of the CPA has never been greater.

From artificial intelligence and Big Data, to diversity, women’s equality and increasing social change, the spectrum of disruptive forces challenging every way business is done is infinite—the CPA profession is no exception. Not only must we be prepared to help lead on these challenges, we equally face major change in how we execute audits, prepare taxes, complete corporate finance functions, connect with our clients and colleagues, and more.

This will not change for me, it’s not going to change for you and it certainly won’t change for the next generation of accounting and finance leaders.

As we aim to adjust, adapt and excel in the face of this change, growing the CPA pipeline will be important to our profession’s success. As the number of people taking the CPA exam remains flat, we need to look for new ways to attract the next generation of thought leaders. I think we must truly challenge the way we market our profession, show the value and purpose of the CPA, and encourage people to become CPAs.

I joined the Society to drive more connection to the profession. I challenge you to join me in helping our profession navigate these uncertain waters. We have important roles to play in business and society, and while those roles may be changing, I want us to be the disruptors, not the disrupted.

It’s an exciting time to be a CPA. Let’s show everyone why CPAs are truly the most trusted business advisors.

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