by Charles Mello, CPA, 2021-22 OSCPA Board Chair
Audit Partner, Deloitte LLP, Portland
My first introduction to OSCPA occurred right around the time the world was preparing for Y2K. I was a young student exploring the field of accounting, and I don’t exactly remember if I joined the Society on the recommendation of a friend, from my university’s career center, or possibly through one of my professors.
Regardless, I had no idea that nearly two decades later I would be in a position to be writing this message as the incoming chair. I also could never have imagined this would be occurring one year into a pandemic that has had significant impacts on how we do business. I am humbled and very grateful to have this opportunity and appreciate your support as we navigate the upcoming year together.
Recently, the OSCPA Board of Directors approved a new three-year strategic plan. For the near future we will focus on ensuring that you, our members, are aware of the importance and value of OSCPA membership. We’ll continue to promote the CPA profession and highlight the benefits of the CPA. And through our advocacy efforts in Salem and nationally, we will continue our work to protect your license and build understanding of the importance of the profession to the clients and businesses that we serve. Finally, with a year of pivoting under our belts, we will build on what we’ve learned during the pandemic to ensure ongoing excellence in our virtual and in-person programming and services.
The CPA is a trusted advisor who has served clients, whether internal or external, for more than a hundred years. In that time there has been significant advancement in technology, in the standards of our profession, in our global reach. But in the last year we have advanced the concepts of the “future of work” more than at any time that I have experienced or can remember. Admittedly, on a relative basis I’m fairly young (or at least I keep telling myself that), and I am buoyed by all of the incredible young professionals I have the pleasure of interacting with every day. With the snap of a finger we moved into a fully virtual world in which we’ve had to redefine every aspect of how we operate. Our profession has endured many changes, and we will continue to play a critical role well into the future — as trusted advisors will always remain relevant in an increasingly complex world.
While the Society’s strategies to advance the standing of our members has not changed, almost every facet of how we do that has had to evolve. The digitalization of our CPE catalog, the process whereby we support firms with their peer reviews, member networking events and socials, as well as our annual Circle of Excellence and Meet the Firms events have all seen significant modifications — but our commitment to the membership and advancing the profession has not wavered.
In the early days of the pandemic, the Society moved very quickly to convert in-person volunteer meetings and live CPE to a virtual format. Since March 2020 — more than a year ago now — we’ve held all board meetings via Zoom and all OSCPA-Select™ conferences and seminars have been offered as livestream webcasts.
The Society has gained valuable insights that will help us provide high-quality user experiences, whether they are virtual, in-person, or both. Great care was given to ensure that the quality of our programs, services, and events didn’t suffer in the transition to virtual programming.
On an individual level, our lives changed dramatically over the last year. In my own life, I have moved from taking 60 plus flights a year to none. More of my interactions are via video conference than in-person or even over the phone. I’ve had the pleasure to attempt an escape room virtually, have taken on new hobbies such as my fledgling vegetable garden, and I’ve completely fallen in love with cooking with a wok that I bought early on in the pandemic.
We’ve also adapted to the changing professional environment by transitioning to working from home, using technology to keep our businesses and our client’s businesses going, and embracing online learning to meet our professional development needs. Thank you for supporting the Society by taking advantage of the virtual programming. In fact, participation in several conferences, which volunteer committees produce with OSCPA staff, reached all-time highs over the last year!
I view the upcoming year with a lot of optimism as we continue to refine our offerings and ensure that we continue to provide value to every CPA in Oregon.
Contact Charles Mello at ChairCharles@orcpa.org.