Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop: Inspiring the future
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Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop: Inspiring the future

1 month ago · 3 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

The Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop (ASLW), an annual AICPA Foundation-sponsored event, aims to increase the representation within the CPA profession of people from ethnically diverse and underrepresented populations. The workshop encourages and supports students from diverse backgrounds interested in pursuing a career in accounting and finance.

ASLW exposes students to myriad opportunities within the profession and helps them envision themselves prospering and potentially growing into leadership roles. Participation in the program is enriching, and the benefits of attending are far-reaching.

With the theme “Blaze new trails in accounting,” learning sessions in ASLW 2022 were designed to broaden students’ understanding of the profession. Attendees learned strategies for career growth, networking, developing a personal brand and creating their path to their dream careers. Panel discussions and speakers offered guidance about licensure options within the profession, including how to acquire them, and provided inspiration for pursuing a rewarding career in accounting and finance.

Promoting inclusive leadership

To provide an opportunity for as many students as possible, participants may attend the workshop only once, making it a truly once-in-a-lifetime event for the next generation of accountants.

James Do, a California State University, Fullerton, student, shared that, “the knowledge, lessons, experiences and tips from experts in the workshops not only help me develop myself and improve my knowledge of leadership but also direct me to apply them in my life.” He said that the Mentorship & Sponsorship session led by Kecia Williams Smith, CPA, Ph.D. was very valuable. After joining that session, Do said, “I realized that what I’d known about mentorship and sponsorship was wrong … I learned tips to maintain relationships with my mentors and my sponsors. … I committed to an action plan to develop my relationship with them.”

Ryan McKelvey, from the University of Texas at Tyler, shared, “This experience helped me see that the possibilities in accounting are endless. … I found The Road Ahead session with Billy ‘Boss’ Williams the most valuable. … Listening to his story and his journey to becoming partner at KPMG inspired me to dream big even though I started with little.”

Students left the conference feeling motivated and prepared for the rigor and resilience required to persist to CPA licensure. Specifically, Yi Xia, a Southern Connecticut State University student, shared, “I was very inspired by all the speakers. Their successful stories gave me more motivation for studying for my CPA Exam.” Xia also appreciated learning that “people fail all the time, but the most important thing is never give up. The CPA Exam is hard but as long as we study, we will pass it … even if we fail a couple of times.” Xia continued, “I am always interested in others’ journeys. By hearing [about others’ career paths], I know I have many opportunities out there.”

Erin Hardin, a University of Alabama at Birmingham student, said, “I had the chance to connect with inspiring scholars and professionals. I did not have a plan before. But now I do!”

Motivating students to pursue their dreams

Participants from ASLW 2022 highlighted key takeaways from the event:

  • Understanding that there are options for career paths

  • Being exposed to networking opportunities

  • Receiving inspiration to stick to their dreams

  • Seeing themselves represented in the speakers and leaders

“The ASLW changed my outlook on this profession,” noted McKelvey. “I decided to become a CPA because I fell in love with accounting. … I had been feeling like I don’t have a future in accounting leadership because I hadn’t seen other minorities in management positions in local firms. Coming to the ASLW and listening to and learning from so many minority leaders and scholars inspired me to pursue my dreams. I hope that one day I can give a future minority accounting student that same inspiration.”

Solmars Torcelino, a student at the University of Guam, called the ASLW a "once-in-a-lifetime experience … I will cherish this memory forever. Here’s to blazing new trails in accounting!”

The workshop is one way AICPA & CIMA aim to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The goal of the ASLW is to show participants that they belong and can thrive in the accounting profession.

As you seek to expand awareness and implement DEI programs, resources are available to you and our member-facing DEI team is happy to answer your questions.

#FutureCPA #RepresentationMatters #InclusiveLeadership #CPAPipeline #aicpadiversity

Ashlin Minogue

Ashlin Minogue is a senior content writer at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

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