Women in Accounting: Principals

Women in Accounting: Principals

March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the month, Brown Plus will be featuring insights from our female accounting team members at all levels, highlighting their many different paths through the accounting profession.

For the final week of our Women’s History Month interview series, we’ve asked our Principals what advice they would give to young women who are aspiring to leadership roles in the accounting profession and how the representation of women in the accounting profession has evolved.

How do you think representation of women in the accounting profession has evolved over the years?

“Advancements in technology and firm policy have provided for so much more flexibility in public accounting today than there was when I first started my career. In many ways, that flexibility has led to more women thriving in our industry, which has led to more women in leadership positions. There is still a need to continue to align representation of women in accounting with the percentage of women in leadership roles, because having those voices in the room when decisions are being made is important for the future of the firm, our team and our clients.”

Sherry Cracium-Bolin, CPA, Tax Principal

“The number of women in the profession has grown significantly. Women in leadership is critical to maintaining women in the workforce and development of future leadership, which will look very different than historically.”

Robyn Dougherty, CPA, Audit Principal

“I think being the first female Executive Committee member at Brown Plus is a good indicator of how the industry has changed. It used to be difficult to find women in leadership roles in public accounting, but now more than ever, that is starting to change. While there is still more work to be done and more progress that can be made, we are experiencing an exciting evolution of female leadership in accounting, and I’m hopeful and excited for our current and future women in this outstanding industry.

Wanda Lynn, CPA, Principal & Audit Director

What advice would you give to young women who are aspiring to leadership roles in the accounting profession?

“My advice to women in the profession or entering the profession would be to find a mentor. It could be someone in accounting, but it could also just be someone who inspires you. I was inspired and motivated by my mother and grandmother, because they invested in me and motivated me to continue to believe in myself. So, find the people who will invest in you and stand behind you, because they will help on your path forward.

Sherry Cracium-Bolin, CPA, Tax Principal

Be a sponge; learn as much as you can from those around you, especially your mentors. Be confident; you know what you are doing, and you are good at what you are doing! Be positive; it sounds simple, but having a positive attitude and doing tasks with a smile goes a long way! It rubs off on your team members too, and when your team is successful, you are successful! And lastly, have fun! You have to enjoy what you are doing in order to be successful!”

Lauren Fenner, CPA, Audit Principal

Always value what you bring to the position; do not sell yourself short or assume that you are not enough. It is okay to find your voice and use it for good!”

Robyn Dougherty, CPA, Audit Principal

“There used to be a feeling that it was impossible to be a woman in public accounting while also raising a family. My advice to young women coming into the accounting profession is to ignore the cliché that “you can’t have it all,” because you can. It is possible to achieve what you would like professionally, while also maintaining a meaningful personal life. A key part of that is finding a firm that values life balance for its team members, because that will generally be a firm that respects your time and will work with you if you are in need of flexibility. Having dependable support systems in both your professional and personal lives is key.”

Wanda Lynn, CPA, Principal & Audit Director

“My advice to young women aspiring to have leadership roles in the accounting profession is two-fold. First of all, find trusted mentors. Mentors are an excellent resource and will help guide you throughout your career. You will always have someone in your corner giving you that extra push and motivation. Secondly, get out of your comfort zone. Say yes to opportunities that arise that may seem intimidating or out of reach. A diverse background is useful as you continue to advance throughout your career.”

Carrie Small, CPA, MST, Tax Principal

“My advice to young women who aspire to leadership in the accounting profession is ‘know your worth and don’t be ashamed to use it.’ To put this into context, women play a valuable role in the accounting profession like never before. I would say that it happened organically (with a little coercion to go against the norms).  Like any industry, the accounting profession has evolved over the years and recognizes the valuable contribution women make in leadership roles. This includes fostering a whole new generation of female talent, whether they choose to work on a full-time or part-time basis. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time in our profession, as we face many challenges in trying to hire more accounting professionals.

In my experience talking with younger women over the years, there is still a sense of fear that makes them think they can’t be in leadership roles AND have a family life. Although that was more of a reality when I was coming up through the profession, there were many women that paved the way for me, and that mindset has completely changed. There are no limits to what women can accomplish in the accounting profession!

Mary Kay Toth, CPA, Tax Principal

This concludes our Brown Plus Women Interview Series for Women’s History Month! If you would like to read more interviews from our extraordinary team members, visit the blog’s career section.

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