Living on the EDGE in the Big Easy 

Known for its Cajun cuisine, jazz and a bit of lagniappe, New Orleans will play host August 6-8 to the fourth annual E.D.G.E. Conference, a not-to-miss event that offers young CPAs unique growth, education, and networking opportunities to grow.

The E.D.G.E. Conference offers an invaluable experience that can’t be found in the workplace,” said William E. Balhoff, CPA/CFF, CGMA, 2013-14 Chairman of the AICPA, and managing director and CEO of Postlethwaite & Netterville, APAC. “This conference provides non-traditional CPE that enables attendees to develop their career and expand their professional and personal skills, while also networking with professionals from other practices, emerging leaders in the profession from previous Leadership Academies, and even AICPA leaders.”

Built on the acronym, “Evolve-Distinguish-Grow-Engage,” the conference is designed to empower young CPAs with the knowledge and direction to become stronger leaders, possess top-level management skills, and know the ins and outs of developing and sustaining a successful career in accounting.

Whether you’re new to the conference or have previously attended, there’s something for all young CPAs who work in practice, business and industry, government, non-profit and education. In addition to several technical topics, presentations include “Successful Entrepreneurial CPAs,” “World Domination,” “Maximizing a Mentoring Relationship,” “Personal Branding,” “Self-Awareness: The Secret to Effective Leadership” and “How to Use and Filter Social Media Information.”

“Within our own firm, we recognize the value a conference like this brings to our staff and, over the last few years, have had several CPAs attend the conference,” said Balhoff. “Within the firm, we’ve done a good job of focusing on technical training, but haven’t spent as much time developing the kinds of competencies and skills that make our staff better leaders. That’s a very valuable benefit for attendees.”

New this year are four tracks with breakout sessions: Personal Edge, Management Edge, Professional Edge and Leading Edge. The event also includes several keynote presentations.  Tom Hood, CPA.CITP, CGMA, chief executive officer of the Maryland Association of CPAs, will discuss “The Concept of Bounce and Your Career,” an innovative look at how CPAs must be thought-provoking leaders and better communicators while showing some humility and empathy along the way. Kim Drumgo, director of Diversity and Inclusion at the AICPA, and Ed Ramos, CPA, a member of the National Commission on Diversity and a shareholder with Dwyer, Pemberton & Coulson, P.C., will present “How the AICPA is Helping Improve Diversity and Inclusivity.” Drumgo and Ramos will discuss the barriers that stand in the way of the long-term success of minorities in accounting, as well as how important it is for minorities to have a place in the profession.

“The accounting profession continues to change very rapidly, from the demographics of the profession and markets served, to becoming a much more mobile workforce,” said Balhoff. “It’s important for young CPAs rising in this profession to stay up-to-date on these trends while recognizing the personal and professional value they bring to their employers.”

Beyond the content and mentorship that comes with the conference, Balhoff believes that attendees can learn from others while also learning to be themselves. That attending this conference is a positive step to embrace all there is to gain from being a valued member of the profession. Sometimes, the best lessons are the hardest ones to learn.

“When I first started in this profession, I tried to emulate other people who were successful, and it took me awhile to learn to be myself,” he said. “If you aren’t yourself, others can see right through you and know you are not sincere. Learn from others and network with them, but stay true to yourself, develop your own style and be your own person.”

Balhoff believes being a CPA has given him and his colleagues instant credibility and a lifetime of respect in the community, but being the best professional you can be isn’t achieved by just showing up at work and relying on others to lead.

“Allow yourself to be pushed outside your comfort zone,” he said. “Over the years, when I stepped out, these activities became watershed moments in my career, and there’s no reason that approach can’t do the same for you! The conference is the first step in that direction.”

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