Stephanie Peters, CAE, president and CEO of the Virginia Society of CPAs, answers questions from a member about increasing diversity in the accounting profession, adapting to new technology, and meeting VSCPA’s biggest challenge.
How are you addressing gender and cultural diversity in the profession? What advice do you offer other women who aspire to become leaders?
Organizations with diverse teams perform better. Period. That’s why diversity and inclusion is one of our core values. Minorities represent only one in six professionals at accounting firms nationwide, and that doesn’t match the makeup of the country. VSCPA is committed to fostering an environment that reflects the diversity of people, cultures, and perspectives.
As for myself, I’ve been incredibly fortunate during my years at VSCPA. Being female has never been an obstacle. I realize this is more the exception than the norm, so I encourage all women to decide what you want for your career, set self-doubt aside, and continue to strive for what you deserve.
How do you help members adapt to advances in technology?
New technology tools, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, are dramatically changing how CPAs work and the services they provide. There is a tremendous opportunity ahead, but we must be open to changing how we work. We believe CPAs will thrive in the future by using innovation and vision. That’s one of the reasons why we created a Center for Innovation and conducted dozens of technology-focused trainings for members.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in our association, and where do you see the association industry in 10 years?
Twenty years ago, our members were taking paper CPA exams, nothing was “in the cloud,” and only a few organizations had websites. Now we have members who are experts in data analytics, cybersecurity, digital currencies, and forensic accounting.
To keep delivering value to members, associations must provide meaningful, high-quality, and innovative learning opportunities and resources that they can’t find anywhere else. At the same time, we must look around the corner for the next threat or opportunity that members might encounter.