You are whom you meet

June 1, 2017

JRichardsonBy Jay Richardson, JD, CPA, CMA, CFM, CGMA
2017-18 OSCPA Chair

May was a busy month. In the first two weeks of the month, the Society hosted the Board of Directors meeting and the Strategic Leadership Forum at Salishan Spa and Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach, followed closely by the 2017 Circle of Excellence at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. In late May, the AICPA held its annual Spring Council meeting in Washington, D.C., and OSCPA leadership took this opportunity to meet with Oregon congressional delegates on Capitol Hill. And, of course, I also attended the Society’s Professional Conduct Strategic Committee meeting.

As I met and interacted with many leaders and professionals at these events, the topic of this “Chair’s Message” became obvious: You are whom you meet. Let me explain.

At our May Board of Directors meeting, we expressed our appreciation for outgoing members and welcomed new board members with two-year terms commencing April 1, 2017. Our board represents a diverse cross section of the profession and population demographics. Many have strong opinions as well as important insights on the various professional issues we grapple with as advocates for and representatives of the profession in Oregon.

At the leadership forum, I met 2016-18 AICPA Board Vice Chair Eric Hansen and AICPA Vice Chair nominee for 2018-19 Bill Reeb – two totally different people in background, speaking style, and profession.

Eric gave an update on the challenges that transect the spectrum of our profession. For example, baby boomers are retiring while new professionals are avoiding certification, technology is changing how we audit, and even who audits – that is, STEM professionals, instead of traditionally trained accountants – is potentially in flux. Bill helped us explore ways to leverage change for a healthy membership organization and profession.

I had a chance to speak at length with both Eric and Bill as well as the amazing professionals attending these events – not to mention our staff who take demonstrable pride in their role with the Society. I felt I was truly part of something important on a national level and was motivated to try even harder to honor my role as chair.

The Circle of Excellence, of course, recognized members celebrating Member Milestone achievements of 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, and 65 years of membership in the Society. While I was waiting to speak, I did a quick math calculation and realized that the small group of veteran members had, collectively, over 900 years of Society membership! I shook each hand as they received their service award and sensed their pride as the audience applauded their dedication and long-term commitment. It became clear that you cannot look forward without looking back and acknowledging, with deep admiration and appreciation, the sacrifices of those who came before you to the betterment of the Society and the profession.

The young professionals at the Circle of Excellence stole the show. I saw their faces watching me and the other speakers. When they approached the stage, I saw them stand tall. They shook my hand with nervousness and big smiles. Looking closely into the audience, you saw their families and friends accompanying them. They too were smiling and ready to shake hands and hug their accomplished family members. Many came up to me and asked questions about how I blended the CPA and legal world together. It was truly humbling. It was a great honor to meet those in the early stages of their careers and those who are seasoned professionals.

At times, as I listened to presentations on the challenges of the CPA profession, I felt overwhelmed. As I witnessed the integrity, enthusiasm, and wisdom of those I met this month, I became energized to face our trials. I have no doubt that the profession will fortify through the efforts of professionals, members, and the Society as we look toward our future.

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