Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

March 8th, 2018 by Trent McLaren 168 minute read

Late last year we asked the world to tell us who you believed to be the top women in the accounting industry. Who were your mentors, who were you inspired by, who was pushing you to be the best version of yourself every single day. 

We probably didn’t anticipate the amount of amazing nomination’s and then submissions that would start to come through, from what I can only be described as truly inspirational people. 

As we celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) for 2018, it was only fitting that we finally release our list of truly fantastic women. Doing amazing things in their communities both locally and globally, as they all aspire to build better environments and culture for women all around the world. 

Our list was compiled in no order - and believe me if we could list everyone that was nominated, and better yet everyone that took the time to write to us and tell us their fantastic stories we would. 

In this first instance we’ve created a list of the top 50 women in the accounting industry. Enjoy and please join us as we celebrate these amazing women and #pressforprogress #IWD2018 

From the Practice Ignition team, thank you for allowing us to be involved in this very special, and soon to become, annual celebration. 

We look forward to compiling a list of outstanding women in accounting every single year launching on International Women’s Day.

Without further adieu...

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Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Marsha Ward

Founder & CEO of The Number Hub

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I wanted to provide a service via which fellow start-ups could prosper and in the process has more than doubled my team over the last year, with the growth and success of our own business coming very much down to the belief I place in others. I am extremely proud of The Number Hub's achievements, not only regarding business performance but also the opportunities it has created on behalf of other micro businesses. To me, one person's success does not mean another person's failure, and through The Number Hub we have made a conscious effort to create a service where fledgling businesses feel confident their own future prosperity is in safe hands. By supporting and encouraging other small businesses to grow, The Number Hub has not only achieved noteworthy success and rapid growth on its own part, but as a micro business also brought about benefits to the economy on a wider scale. By recognising a gap in the market and providing an accessible, affordable, bespoke service offering where other accountancy firms often failed, we are in many ways responsible not only for the growth and prosperity of our own business, but for many others too. The Number Hub offers an agile approach so that customers can either deliver account information by post, via the cloud or in person. Having introduced cloud-based technology via software partners; Practice Ignition, Xero & Receipt Bank, into the business so that clients have instant access to records, making the process smoother. This also works well for remote working and access for team members who work flexibly. By going against the norms of our industry and taking a very personal approach to business, I have been able to ensure we provide a tailored accountancy service for each individual client. The Number Hub has experienced tremendous growth, with revenue increasing by over 90% last year and on target to continue the trend this year at a growth rate of 182%.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being able to create new ideas for the team, the next steps, the journey and progression. Ambition is essential in maintaining passion and I'm constantly thinking about the ‘refresh’. I plan to fast track the business expansion and franchise plans, so that our brand, ideology and approach can open up more opportunities for flexible working and become recognised and respected across the UK. Our inspirational approach to business, ethics and inclusive & supportive business culture makes The Number Hub a great place to be.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I think two things... being recognised for our work with women in business alongside a large utilities company and a university this year which has led to a platform to talk about the way we work to other employers, and, following our clients to the US and Dubai to continue the support they have enjoyed in the UK.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

We need to stop thinking as accountants and begin to think as mentors, trusted advisors and experts in business growth. Embrace change, lead change, shake off the dusty image of yesteryear.

Who is your mentor and why?

I keep outgrowing my mentors but I have an amazing business coach right now who challenges me and makes me grow as a person. She is truly the best person to have in my world right now.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Alex Huerta Falcon

CEO & Founder at Soaring Falcon Limited

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

My strategy is to bring a startup mentality around growth and smart processes to creative and tech clients; built around the relationships with the best vendors, staff, and unique global network. I constantly review the way that I/we work to eliminate or automate repetitive and unvalued tasks. This mirrors our client approach of using technology to remove as much of their financial administration as possible, so we can all work on the issues that matter. I have recently been elected as an International Assembly Member for the UK for ACCA to support accountants to become familiar with tech and to push technology in schools and educational sectors. I also advise on tech for the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) and support the new criteria to ensure new accountants are job ready. I often speak at events on my thought leadership approach.

What do you love most about what you do?

Teaching and educating people in business and staff on how to utilise finance and tech to be successful. To make the most of their chosen path and to create a fun and positive environment. I want the firm to be the obvious choice for people of my generation or younger who want to set up in business - and to reflect their outlook, actively encourage and keep them motivated

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

It just has to be receiving the Xero 'Most Valued Professional' UK 2017, on top of the 'Best New Practice 2017' at the British Accountancy Awards. What more recognition can I ask for?

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The biggest challenge is people.. And finding key people who have the right mindset. People who can learn all tech as well as being an accountant. The reason in note 1, is why I wanted to be part of the fundamental change. So people can leave their exams, school etc and be work ready!

Who is your mentor and why?

I have several. Clients and some personal mentors. Mainly people who are in business already who provide me with the support I need during challenging times. I read books also for self improvement in running a business, managing people and keeping stress free (where possible!)

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Karen Reyburn

Managing Director at The Profitable Firm

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I created the Content Marketer programme which is exclusively for accountants, and has resulted in hundreds of accountants being enthused and inspired about content marketing (which is quite difficult because content marketing is an area that it can be hard to see immediate, direct results from - it's more a combination over time). Better even than the enthusiasm is the incredible results I've seen accountants achieve - increases in profit and turnover, working with more of the type of clients that they want, better team members, etc. I'm so proud of them!

What do you love most about what you do?

I absolutely, 100% love accountants. I love the marketing ideas and creativity that they have - yet they don't always see it, so I love being able to show them that. To show them the incredible marketing potential they have within themselves, and see them deliver on it.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Making the decision to own my business entirely (I started it with a business partner in 2012, and bought out the partner in 2015), and tripling the profitability as a result.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The tendency to expect instant results - or to look for direct results based on one series of actions alone. This is such a bad habit for accountants, because it prevents them getting the amazing results that they could be getting. When accountants realise that everything - brand, website, reputation, content marketing, social media, video, etc - delivers results in a combination that doesn't always make logical sense, a whole new world of opportunity is opened up to them.

Who is your mentor and why?

Paul Barnes, my accountant. I have many mentors, coaches, and colleagues who have helped me in many ways, but Paul is someone whose journey has been similar to mine, and we've had the relationship from almost day one of the business. He's seen me through some really tough days and consistently gives me solid advice based on what he knows about business, and how he knows me personally. The advice he gave when I was buying out the business myself was invaluable.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Kaydee Peterson

Founder at Measure Initiative and Business Development Manager at Intuit

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

My greatest contribution to the industry is my addiction to learning and sharing. I came into the industry at the right time to start out the 'old way' and make rapid change to forward thinking technology. Sharing these solutions with firms and watching them grow and evolve is even more gratifying than implementing solutions with just my own clients.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love changing peoples lives. Accounting seems like such a small thing, but when you can streamline a process to give back someones most precious asset, time, that is life changing. Watching people move from a state of stress to one of peace is why I do what I do.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Everyone has a different scale to measure their accomplishments. For me, there are many things that I am equally proud of - like being a top trainer for Intuit before 30, building a successful practice, and joining Intuit to help top accounting firms achieve what my small practice perfected. Above all, my most sacred accomplishment is that I am able to balance my profession with being a single mom of three beautiful children, all because I take advantage of technology to save time.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I have worked with many firms over the years of being a trainer and now as a strategic account manager at Intuit. The biggest challenge to overcome is an old mindset that 'this is the way we have always done it' or 'this is the way our clients want it to be done'. An open mind to forward progression is the number one barrier I see with our industry.

Who is your mentor and why?

I learn something from everyone I meet. I am lucky enough to be so heavily involved in the industry that I have many amazing and intelligent friends to share thoughts with. That being said, I have had 2 pivotal points in my career from conversations with my peers. First, Stacy Kildal who is a dear friend of mine, who taught me that I don't have to pretend to be a stuffy accountant to make it in the industry because I know my stuff. I became exponentially more successful after gaining the confidence to be my crazy self. Second, Seth David, whose friendship is unwavering and whose straightforwardness matches my own to help me see what I already know with new words. I am so lucky to have such smart and fun friends!

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Jennifer Moore

Founder at Moore Details

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Hmm. Good question. I guess it starts by being honest and genuine. It was a lonely road for me to start the cloud accounting journey. I didn't want others to follow the hard path. So I embraced a network of collaborators. Some thought it was crazy to work with my competition. Turns out it was the best idea ever!!! In conjunction with Intuit, we started a facebook group to cater to accounting professionals in a safe and judgement free environment. We openly share ideas so that we all win. You'll often hear me sharing my Apps knowledge to accounting pros. I don't believe in hoarding information. Information is meant to be shared!

What do you love most about what you do?

Seeing the relief on my clients face when we improve their workflow using apps.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

We've received allot of accolades for being Canada's Firm of the Future finalist by Intuit, Hubdoc's Top 50 Cloud Accountants for the last 2 years. Being nominated for the Premiers Award for our advocacy in our industry by Colleges Ontario by the Ministry of Education. Recently we've been slected as one of seven Fantastic Women in Quinte. And now this nomination with Practice Igntition. But To be honest by best professional accomplishment was building a leading edge cloud accounting practice from my home in rural Ontario Canada while raising 3 kids with my awesome husband. That's pretty epic.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The biggest challenge is managing change. More and more technology is changing and we as accounting professionals need to work together to share our experiences. Collaboration is still in the minority!

Who is your mentor and why?

Luckily I have had several mentors in my life. Starting in High School (Mrs Bailey), then College (Gary Earle, CMA), in my corporate life (Nicole Horrigan) and when I branched out on my own (Jeff Borschowa)

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Esther Friedberg Karp

President, EFK CompuBooks Inc. 

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have provided QuickBooks training globally via articles, blog posts, white papers, live and recorded internet training, certification courses and exams, conference keynote speeches. I have been a guiding force helping bookkeepers run their businesses and teaching accountants how to translate their accounting skills into expertise in QuickBooks. I have also helped Intuit technical support reps understand the accounting ramifications of their technical advice to end users. Because I have certifications in multiple countries, I am one of the few worldwide authorities on the cross-border use of QuickBooks, as well as multicurrency and its applications in both QuickBooks Desktop an QuickBooks Online.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I can create an orderly system out of the mess that my clients initially face. They start out fearful, but I explain concepts in easy-to-understand terms. The "aha" moment when their faces light up and they understand the meaningful information from their data is priceless. For me, this is never boring or repetitive because, like opening a new puzzle box of zillions of pieces with a different picture to construct, every situation is unique.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I've been listed on Insightful Accountant's 100 Top ProAdvisors three years in a row (2015, 2016, and 2017), and in 2015 I was in the Top 10, with the title "Top International ProAdvisor." (I just love being sought out by people from other parts of the world who have read my articles!)

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

There are a few, but I'd say the biggest one has to do with the fact that data entry is (or very soon will be) dead. The traditional ("old school") accounting firms will have to educate themselves in the technologies that are replacing data entry. And then they will have to re-engineer the offerings they have for their clients, and develop new areas of expertise in order to support those new offerings.

Who is your mentor and why?

She doesn't know it, but Arlene Dickinson is my mentor. I heard her speak at a conference and thought she was incredible. Despite all her achievements, she spoke with humility and humor, as if she had dropped in for coffee. She was a single mother at 31, became an entrepreneur, and today is a self-made multi-millionaire. I love her first book, Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds, and I look forward to reading her second one, All In.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Alison Ball

Global Influencer Strategy at Intuit

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Oh gosh.. I guess I would have to say that I make it my stated mission to help other's build their brand on the back of Intuit's strong brand. By this I mean helping them find ways to leverage Intuit's massive audience world-wide to help amplify and spread their thought leadership. By approaching it always from a standpoint of "what's in it for them" I am able to find ways to help them grow their brand, their businesses and their careers in ways that are delightful and meaningful to them. The other thing I do daily is look for opportunities to connect influential people with each other. The magic that happens when 2 thought leaders meet each other and then generously collaborate is so lovely to see, and all boats rise! And I guess the last thing I do is a lot of coaching. When an influencer or up-and-coming influencer is wondering how to monetize their thought leadership, I help them look at ways that they can do that and still be very giving to their communities. Bottom line - I seek win/wins for all the stakeholders, so that everyone benefits.

What do you love most about what you do?

The thing I love the MOST is that I am dealing with people. Every day, each influencer I work with is a complete individual, with different goals and aspirations. I get to help them build their dreams and it is SO GRATIFYING!

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Creating a global influencer program at Intuit that has something for everyone! With Intuit's assets and approval, we are able to take people who aren't influential at all (or are only a little bit influential) and help them map out a plan to increase their influence globally. At the same time, we work with well-known influencers and help them achieve their goals as well, by showing them how they can work with Intuit and other companies to benefit the industry and share their thought leadership with broader audiences.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The idea that accountants and bookkeepers have "competition" - they don't. Every accountant and bookkeeper has different skills, talents, aspirations, and achievements. All they have to do is focus on what they do best, and be willing to share their best practices with peers and clients. And the magic will happen! BUT - if they do not do this, then they live in fear and they not only don't share their best practices and knowledge with peers, peers don't share their knowledge and best [practices with them. So a poverty and fear mindset prevails.

Who is your mentor and why?

I've had many mentors and believe that you can learn valuable things from everyone. However if I had to pick just one I would choose Rich Walker, CPA. He hired me at Intuit and the first words he said to me was "with everything you do, always keep in mind - "Whats In It for THEM?"" These words have held me in good stead for my entire career at Intuit since. Plus he was always available to coach and support me along the way.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Valerie Heckman

Senior Product Consultant at Intuit

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

As an educator and consultant, I've helped hundreds of accounting firms move to the cloud and get comfortable using tools that truly transform how they do business, with a focus on QuickBooks Online and the Intuit apps ecosystem. My mission is to help every firm become a "firm of the future" and remove the fears that are keeping them from embracing change. In addition to teaching how to use tech, I help firms better understand the changing expectations of the future generations, in ways that will help them attract new clients and talent going forward.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love learning ways to solve problems and introducing those solutions to others. Innovation is moving so fast that it's very hard for anyone to keep up. I am grateful that my career in this industry offers opportunities each day to learn and teach others what's possible with today's technology. I LOVE the "wow" moment when someone learns something that will take away a pain-point they've been limited by.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

On multiple occasions, I've been awarded as a top performer at Intuit. Accolades are appreciated, but I find it even more rewarding anytime an accountant I have worked with thanks me for helping them change and grow.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

There are many challenges at play, but I find education to be an area with a massive, rippling impact. Most colleges and university programs in the US are not teaching a curriculum for accounting students that prepares them for the new needs in this industry, so the right talent can be hard to come by. I think dated curriculum is also preventing the industry from being attractive to new students. I love seeing how some firms and companies are owning this challenge through their own internship, pre-internship, and other educational programs.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have a few, but Sven Blomsterberg (Apple, Inc) is the person who has been instrumental in helping me discover my own value. His mentorship, guidance, and encouragement have continuously helped build my confidence to face new challenges, become a better leader, and make myself known in my workplace.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Kathryn Harris

Partner at Trust One Partners

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I've been a huge supporter of cloud accounting. As a rural firm we moved to a private cloud server in 2009 as well as VOIP technology. This was well before it was mainstream. Since then we were one of the earliest adopters of cloud apps allowing us to ditch the server. I have also operated a completely female firm for most of my time in practice. It's important to me that young woman and girls can see that they can be a tax specialist and business owner, that we are not all stale, pale and male. As part of this I tend to call out the professional bodies and the ATO when they forget to include women as professionals - something which happens far too often.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love helping mum and dad businesses get their systems sorted and understand their business. Working with family businesses is not just about the numbers, you get to know the people and their families. You need to understand how the family dynamics fit into their business.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Achieving Chartered Tax Advisor status. This was a rigorous assessment process that required a pass mark of 85%. This is a internationally recognised qualification for the top echelon of tax advisors. More importantly in a very male dominated industry I was one of the few women in Australia to achieve it in 2013.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Digital disruption is making a huge change in our industry and unfortunately the ATO is not handling it well. While adoption is increasing within accounting firms there is still a long way to go. It's important to be adaptable and accept change as part of the industry and ensure your business can change.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have a number of mentors. My formal mentor at the moment is an Inspiring Rare Birds mentor, Jessica McGrath, who is a marketing specialist. This is through a scholarship with the Office for Women recognising leadership potential in rural women. Marketing is something I'm terrible at so it's fitting at the moment. I have lots of informal mentors in my business partner, female lawyers, past bosses and many other men and women that I've come accross over the years.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Rebecca Bigg

Managing Director At Meticulously Managed Bookkeeping Services

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I'm a systems addict. If there is a program out there that can make my life and the lives of my staff easier through automation; I'll research it and implement it. Through my experiences in building my business, which survived a major life crises through the systems I implemented, I am able to offer that knowledge and guidance to peers in my industry to help THEM make their working lives and the lives of their Clients easier.

What do you love most about what you do?

The research. Problem solving. The analysis and implementing solutions to make lives easier. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when that final piece of the puzzle clicks together and automation is achieved - the pure relief and excitement that is evident in my Clients at having this new system in place is all the reward (and encouragement!) I need to keep working towards my goal of helping to save small business in Australia

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

The launch of my second business Sprout, which compliments Meticulously Managed's bookkeeping services. Sprout focuses on providing young and startup businesses with access to affordable services that helps them build strong foundations in their businesses, understand their financial position, coaches in business planning, cashflow management and clarity work. All the things I struggled with in building my own business and the things that at the end of the day, saved my business.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

There seems to be a 'line' in the industry that has been drawn between the advisors who have embraced the cloud, new technology and the new world of business, and those who are not wanting to change, who want to stay with the old ways, remain 'traditional'. I think that people just need to accept that it's each to their own, and spend more time working on achieving their own business and life goals and less time bickering about such and such running their practice in a way they don't agree with. Stay in your own Lane.

Who is your mentor and why?

I don't currently have a Mentor. There are a number of women in the industry that inspire me to achieve great things, and who I am thrilled to be able to call friend and supporter of my sometimes crazy ideas. Finding a mentor is something I am currently working on with RareBirds.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Melanie Power

Founding Revolutionist at the Revolutionary Firm & Global head of partner community at Xero

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I created a Global Movement called Bookkeeper Revolution & The Revolutionary Firm which is on a mission to connect 100,000 advisors globally by 2020 to all help each share their knowledge in a community environment. We are at 25,000 so well and truly on the way to meeting our goal!

What do you love most about what you do?

I LOVE seeing accountants transforming their own practices to business that they LOVE working in, so they can then achieve lifestyle and freedom to do more of the things they love to do. The fabulous result of this is that they then help the businesses they work with transform as well. It's a Win-Win

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Creation and delivery of the Xero Grow Your Practice series which has seen hundreds of advisors across AU/NZ double their turnover. Creation of the Revolution Movement and seeing cross region collaboration and support in the community - we have incredible people in this profession and being able to see them shine and share their achievements is what I see as success

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Future-Proofing their business around technology and ensuring they can value add to their clients. This can mean significant changes within the practice and also can mean upskilling for some

Who is your mentor and why?

Chris Ridd - Jo Burston - Steve Major. I have several and they all bring different aspects and viewpoints and also not afraid to give me the hard truth when it's required.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Peta Smerdon

Chief Bookkeeper

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Over the past 13 years I have evolved a general Bookkeeping entity to a multi entity firm focusing on Cloud Based Bookkeeping and Accounting, a Training Firm currently working with an RTO to provide Xero and Finance training to business owners and a Digital Marketing firm covering everything from Facebook Ads to Mobile responsive websites, Branding and Promotions. I love my work and my clients more than you know and participate with as many organisations as possible to spread the word about technology and how to take the power back in your business with information and technology. We have streamlined our own business using Practice Ignition, Xero and Xero tax and have managed to triple our client load with each client paying only a third of what they used to. I can't explain how much I love inspiring others to change their life and use technology to advance their world. I also act as Treasurer for an animal rescue in Far North Queensland and work tireless with my staff to make a difference and promote the need for support. I use digital technology to enhance their systems as well. I'm all about our slogan:) Innovate, Evolve, Grow!!

What do you love most about what you do?

I love the look on clients faces when they realise they are getting so much more for their dollar and are looking at information about their businesses they had never easily been able to gain before. I love watching startups and small business grow to achieve their goals and more. Most of all I love being on the ground helping them learn, innovate and change. I love being out on the farms, and in their retail outlets, looking at how their pubs work and being able to support and streamline the not for profits. What I love most about what I do is "Everything I Do".

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I consider every day a professional accomplishment but I have to say there have been a few standouts. In 2008 when I won a business women's awards for my training and inspiring of young women. Again in 2017 being a finalist as Small Business Owner of Year. And when I took a minute to realise in the last 10 plus years years I've doubled my profits, tripled my client load and just had such an amazing time helping people. Some of the most humbling times are when a client hugs me and tells me they love me and that I've changed their world.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

In my opinion the biggest challenge is ourselves. Getting rid of old school thinking and stopping blocking each other from success. We need to embrace technology and artificial intelligence rather than trying to hang on to more manual ways of accounting and Bookkeeping. We have so many small firms that don't wish to emplbrase changes and continue to charge fees for things like data entry etc. All that ends up happening is that eventually either the clients find out their is an easier way and leave, or their accounts processes become so complicated and expensive with less information being retrieved that small businesses close. We need to realise we can still be useful and shift ourselves into advisory roles as well to grow businesses. It also takes away much of the competitive nature and we can work with each other as advisors to really do as much as possible for our clients. We all learn and thrive through collaboration.

Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor I consider to be one of my first clients. She is the first one that shook me and said "do you know how amazing you are". She humbled me and encouraged me to help more and more and to use that power to inspire trainees and staff and clients alike.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Lynda Steffens

Director & Senior Success Strategist at Intuitive Practice

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

The business of accounting is challenging and being challenged on many fronts, I walk alongside those brave business owners and their teams encouraging, supporting and implementing so that business for them will not only be sustainable but fulfilling in what can feel like a very uncertain future.

What do you love most about what you do?

It's many moments, actually.... when I see accountants realise they can lead & engage their teams, when an accounting team member leads a team meeting for the first time, when accounting admin teams come together and realise their worth, when accountants realise they can have that hard conversation with a client or a team member, when accountants have an epiphany about a "new concept" realising they can't believe they have taken so long to embrace it, when accountants have clients take up additional services they didn't think they could sell to them. I love growth in others, pointing this out and celebrating the wins with them.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

They say you're only a leader if others view you that way and I'd never thought of myself as a leader but the day a team member told me I was "driving the bus" and they were so thankful that I was, I was very proud of myself.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Ourselves, we have so much knowledge, experience and raw ability that would allow us to be so much more influential in the lives of our clients and the business community, if we just stretched ourselves outside our comfort zones a little more often.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have been very lucky to have many amazing people in my life both business and personally. I don't know that I have ever identified with one person as being a mentor, I like to think I have had many and often more than one at once. I enjoying gleaning information from many sources, learn as I go and store it away for later use. At the moment I very much enjoy the writing of Tim Leberecht, the CEO of The Business Romantic Society.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Stacey Price

Financial Coach & Numbers Nerd at Healthy Business Finances

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

We have employed two return to work Mums to give them career opportunities, we are constantly blogging to ensure business owners can see the perception of accountants is changing and we have an ebook guiding business owners on the stupid questions they are too scared to ask an accountant https://healthybusinessfinances.com.au/startupebook/

What do you love most about what you do?

Being able to see the light bulb go off with business owners when they understand their software for the first time, to see them smash their financial fears and to work with amazing staff on flexible arrangements across the state.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Being nominated for two awards in 2017 - Bookkeeper of the Year (run by women in finance) and Finance Business of the year (run by Mybusiness)

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The business owners perception that the accountant is the “bad guy”. Firstly we are here to help and secondly, a woman can be just as good as a man!

Who is your mentor and why?

I have several “unofficial” mentors - one is a client who is about ten years older than me (in terms of business life). He offers practical no-nonsense advice. I also have Danielle from She Will shine. I love getting a non financial view on growth and goals.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Anna Cochrane

Head Of Customer Success at TIQK

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

In June 2011 I joined a very young Xero team here in Australia, little did I know that my experience in New Zealand as a system integrator and bookkeeper would serve me well as we helped the Accounting and Bookkeeping industry to move and evolve from desktop software to online. I was privileged to play a part in this move in the industry over the years since and to truly see thousands of firms grow, develop, evolve and challenge their status quo. To be brave in the face of the 'that's not how it is done' from industry peers and associations. Interestingly, the theme of today is still similar to what I spoke with everyone about 'way back then', at Xero, Receipt Bank and most recently TSheets. Today this feels like the new status quo and I see those in the industry who embraced the change really thriving.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love seeing people exceed beyond what they thought they could achieve! From growing businesses from 0 to 100+ clients in a year, to completely reinventing their businesses and therefore their clients businesses. This gave me great satisfaction, and for me to feel like a true trusted advisor not just a 'software rep', as they have gone through this journey, even today I am still asked for advice on business and the different software options. And to see those businesses owners growing, selling, evolving made me happy.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Being asked to speak at industry events, with Xero, franchise groups and the Associations, to be able to share knowledge and inspire others.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The attitude of 'this is how it is always done', this will stick with a high number of business owners and until they overcome this challenge and look at how to grow into a business vs a sole trader, or gain confidence in evolving themselves and therefore their clients then they will always struggle.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have so many people in my life that I would consider a mentor and they all play different parts. From the inspiring youthfulness, energy and drive that Sammie Johannes & Chelsea-Lee Brummer have and challenge me too (aka keeping me young!) To the amazing Melanie Power and Cassandra Scott who started out as clients and then moved to friends and mentors. To my parents who have taught me so much on strength, striving, goals, resilience, and determination. There is never one mentor in our lives, and each one brings a unique blend of skills and relates to different parts of our journey.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Brooke Holmes

Freelance Creative Director & Practice Manager at Illumin8 Partners

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have dedicated the last few years (particularly 18 months) in spreading awareness of the importance of accounting firms prioritising their brand and marketing. For too long, our industry's main marketing 'method' was referrals. I've consulted with, and worked alongside, many business owners in helping create visibility to their business so they can continue to change lives and dominate!

What do you love most about what you do?

I am so passionate about seeing Accounting firms succeed and expand their reach through the powers of social media. I love encouraging accounting small business owners to crack the digital space and grow their firms through utilising brand strategies and marketing methods that help grow their business and reach a plethora of potential clients they wouldn't have necessarily reached, whilst strengthening brand trust and relationships with current clients too.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Helping illumin8 grow from being a relatively unknown business doing cool things locally, to a Xero VIC Accounting Partner of the Year powerhouse (in 2 years) is definitely my biggest professional accomplishments to date. Through this, I've had several speaking gigs; including at Xerocon 2017. Partnering with accountants to help grow their personal brand and businesses is always super exciting to me.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Lot's of firms I speak to are experiencing one of both of these issues: 1- Hiring and retaining quality staff. This is not a new problem, but firms are finding this an increasing challenge. We need to identify how we can continue to create cultures that are attractive, capatilise on the freedom and flexibility the cloud creates and provide employee recognition in a real and genuine way. 2- How to create and leverage their brand. Firms are recognising that the accounting industry is a competitive space, and if you're wanting to make an impact, you need to know WHO you are and WHY you exist. As with cloud technology, the earlier 'adopters' (or firms willing to invest time/money/energy into developing this) eat those who do not, or are lagging behind.

Who is your mentor and why?

Cindy has been a mentor of mine since I was a teenager and someone I trust with my life. Whilst I am always looking to grow and constructive feedback, it's really important to have someone around who will encourage me, speak truth and life over me as I fumble around new territory and make my mark on the world.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Megan Velo

Chief Of Operations at Sequel CFO

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I’m helping create a new career path for accountants and finance professionals while also building a better way for SME’s to achieve financial visibility and control. The creation of a new career provides more opportunities for accounting professionals to take control of their careers, run their own businesses and get some work / life balance back! SME’s often fail because of poor financial visibility and control and not having appropriate financial leadership in their business. Our model creates a new way for SME’s to staff their finance function which means they can have experienced finance professionals within their business at a price they can afford.

What do you love most about what you do?

I’ve loved and relished the opportunity to work outside of my comfort zone and work in all areas of our business. Every day is different! From business strategy, marketing, labour solutions, IT development, operations management and franchisee recruitment. I’m constantly being challenged to deliver results. We are always working on ways to improve our business.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Taking Sequel CFO from a standalone virtual CFO business to an industry changing company has certainly been my biggest professional accomplishment. We’ve flipped the traditional growth model of an accounting business on its head – through our franchising model we have experienced finance professionals delivering brilliant service to SME’s and those SME’s can afford someone of their calibre because of our low overhead cooperative model. Franchisees receive industry leading training, marketing and support to grow their own businesses. I’m very proud that after being at Sequel CFO for only 14 months we signed our first 2 franchisees.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The accounting industry is facing many challenges, but challenges create more opportunities for those who are at the forefront of an industry. We will continue to see the reduction / squeezing of full time white collar roles, wage stagnation and the rise of the gig-economy. The gig-economy, or contract work, will be a major issue for accountants. Short term contracts create patchy or lumpy income putting strain on families and generally an unpleasant environment to work in. While you’re working, you don’t have time for business development to lock in your next role - this instability is difficult.

Who is your mentor and why?

Jacinta Caithness - Principal and Director Caithness & Co Advisory Group, former CEO of Boost Juice International, AFR Boss Young Executive of the Year and Telstra Young Businesswomen of the Year - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacinta-caithness-36891626/ Jacinta has worked for the most successful Australian franchise ever and recruited more franchisees than anyone else! From being there in the early days of Boost Juice to taking it overseas - she has done it all. If I can achieve even a little of what she has it would fantastic. Her guidance and direction has been priceless.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Leanne Berry

Director at Love Your Numbers

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I write Certificate IV Financial Services (Bookkeeping) training material for a national publishing company and sit on a number of industry advisory Boards including ICB, ABE & MYOB. I am also a director of a National Bookkeeping Business working predominantly in the franchise sector.

What do you love most about what you do?

I am driven to ensure bookkeepers, my clients and Australian small business in general succeed and flourish. I love our industry, the community, collaboration, inspiration shown by so many dedicated professionals fuels my passion and purpose

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Wow! Tough question - personally for me, rising from the tragedy of the loss of my husband, business partner and best friend 5 years ago, to keep the business functioning to start with, to ensure all our clients still received our high level of service and care, to finally feeling strong enough over the last couple of years to truly chase my passion and dreams and start to enjoy life again.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The gap in soft skills development in our industry. There is so much focus on technical skills, apps, software and platforms but little attention is paid to the skills that help bookkeepers help their clients more holistically. The real need is to ensure our future bookkeepers have deep understanding of client needs and can build and nurture strong relationships. Quickly identifying pain points and using a range of skills such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, problem solving, strategic thinking, communication, mindset, system & workflow analysis to ensure their client needs are met with the best range of software, apps and platforms

Who is your mentor and why?

Emma Lo Russo (CEO, DIGIVIZER). Emma is a strong female role model and mentor who I deeply respect for all she has achieved. I needed someone outside the bookkeeping industry to provide the business development, keep it real and grounded focus. I can pick up the phone and talk to her anytime and she always gives me a "new or expanded viewpoint" on what i am trying to achieve. She also keeps me accountable and makes me laugh!

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Nicole Kirkland

CFO

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I help the industry in various ways, the first is in my role as Chief Financial Officer, I ensure my staff continue to be knowledgeable about the changes in the industry, providing the training and continuing education opportunities, I also work closely with our independent auditors in preparation for upcoming changes that affect our organization regarding financial reporting for non-profits. The second way is within my private practice, by staying abreast of accounting rules, accounting and tax law changes and new technologies that allow us to provide valuable services to our clients, and business owners. I encourage accounting interns from colleges and universities in the Metro area to take advantage of opportunities with smaller firms for hands on experience that they may not receive at larger firms. Lastly I offer training seminars for business owners focusing on areas most important to their businesses, always stressing the importance of sound accounting practices.

What do you love most about what you do?

Since I was a teenager in high school I knew I wanted to be an Accountant, however something more than a number cruncher I wanted to make a difference. It took many years of obtaining degrees, and gaining work experience in public and private firms to find what I could do to make that difference. I am happy to say I have found it. I currently hold two positions as Chief Executive Officer of my private firm and as Chief Financial Officer of a wonderful non-profit in Detroit, which provides services to men recovering from drug addiction and homelessness. It is the best of both worlds, I help business owners be successful in their businesses, work with taxpayers resolving tax matters, and work for a great cause ensuring the non-profit is able to meet the obligations to continue to assist the men we service daily in the Detroit and surrounding communities. It is an awesome blessing to be a help in so many ways and that is what I love the most.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

My biggest accomplishment professionally is being chosen for the role of Chief Financial Officer. While working in my private practice, I wanted to stay in tune with the accounting industry and accepted a position as an outsource accountant working with various businesses resolving accounting matters. One of the companies was a non-profit in Detroit, I came on board as Temporary Finance Director. A few of my successes were implementing an accounting system which improved the audit process and grant reporting processes, completed a successful independent audit, despite coming on board at end of the fiscal year, improved financial reporting to the Board of Directors making the reporting more transparent and user friendly, which I received rave reviews, lastly I began saving the organization money by streamlining the accounts payable process, monitoring spending, and revamped the budget process which normally took 2-3 weeks involving many hands, I was able to create the budget on my own saving time for all management involved. The rate of my successes and approachable personality gained me an offer of permanent employment and title change from Finance Director to Chief Financial Officer which they newly created for me.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Statistics show that women make up 50% of the accounting graduates from universities and that female students continue to outperform their male counterparts, however women are continually overlooked for promotions to partner or upper management compared to their male counterparts. The discrimination continues to be come more subtle, for example in public firms some accounts are deemed preferred to be handled by male accountants, and often women are left out of the offsite business deals on the golf courses, and other male dominated meeting places. This separation causes women to miss out on opportunities, stunts professional growth and causes professional resentment. The issues have to be acknowledged first that they do exist in the industry, then education on how to resolve and change these practices and perceptions will allow the industry to advance forward. If steps are not taken many firms will begin to have a difficult time retaining these great women, equity must be shared in the workplace.

Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor is Erik Tungate, City Manager for Oak Park, MI. He is phenomenal in the area of Finance and I learn so much from him just in conversation, but also in the time he spends to help my professional growth. His strong work ethic and knowledge inspire me to keep pursuing my many goals.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Rebecca Berneck

Founder & Big Head at Officeheads, Inc

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Officeheads provides business bookkeeping & accounting that generate financial reports that align with the strategic goals of the business owner. We strive to dispel the fear of finance and use the intelligence to increase revenue and optimize profit. It is accounting with a purpose that a CEO can understand. Within the industry, we train our bookkeepers not to simply keep books, but to operate within our efficient framework (including 100% digital tools) that keeps the business owner's needs in mind. Our accountants and coaches are trained on business operations and tie the numbers to strategic goals. Throughout the year we deliver squeaky clean books to our CPA partners so they can do their best tax work without wasting valuable time cleaning data and interpreting messy reports.

What do you love most about what you do?

I have two. I am addicted to the entrepreneurial spirit, so working with mission driven entrepreneurs feeds my soul! I love to help them solve business problems through the lens of their numbers, so the second thing I love is teaching! I love to partner with my clients to shift their mindset from entrepreneur to CEO and educate them to operate financially healthy businesses in a way that isn't painful or scary.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

For years I have dreamed of turning Officeheads services into a product and soon it will be a reality! I am currently in production to launch *Officeheads Academy* in early 2018. Officeheads Academy is an eLearning tool that teaches and supports startups, solopreneurs and small business owners to financially manage their company like an Officehead! Although it has not yet been launched, this is my biggest professional accomplishment to date!

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

That the numbers stop at tax reporting. Business owners are desperate to find someone/something to align their numbers with business strategy and operations to grow. Accounting firms need to offer small business advisory services to provide more value to their clients.

Who is your mentor and why?

Glenn Wolfson. Glenn hired me in 1992 to play an administrative role in starting his boutique strategic management consulting firm. Three months later he handed the reigns over which allowed me to build the infrastructure and operations literally from the ground up. 15 years of being an entrepreneur with someone else's money gave me the knowledge, wisdom and confidence to launch Officeheads in 2008. His trust and willingness to let me think outside of the box allowed me to be innovative and build a service business that runs like a top!

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Heather Townsend

Founder of the Accountants Millionaires Club

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

The burning question on every ambitious accountant's mind is "How do I make partner at this firm"? Before I wrote 'How to make partner and still have a life' and then subsequently 'Poised for partnership' the route to partner in an accountancy firm was shrouded in mystery and conjecture. As a result many talented accountants were not achieving their potential and making it to partner due to a lack of knowledge about "what does it take to move my career on around here" Since 'How to make partner and still have a life' was first published in 2012, I have been the only source for accountants in practice for how to progress their career in practice, in particular to make partner; and stop wasting time on the stuff that doesn't matter. The 'How to make partner' website is still the only website in the world solely focused on the needs of accountants globally in practice who want to progress their career to partner and beyond. generates nearly 20,000 web page views every month. 'How to make partner and still have a life' is seen as THE manual for any accountants who wants to progress their career in practice. It sells 1500-2000 copies a year and is now on it's second edition. It is frequently given out or recommended by partners to their employees as the answer of how to move your career on around here. Plus I receive feedback at least once a month from readers who tell me that one of my books has helped change their professional (and sometimes personal) lives for the better.

What do you love most about what you do?

Seeing my highly talented accountancy clients achieve their personal and professional goals by growing and developing their practice.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Publishing 4 best-selling books which have sold over 25,000 copies globally and been translated into over 6 different languages. These books include 'The FT Guide To Business Networking' (which still is the best-selling book on networking), 'The Go-To Expert', 'How to make partner and still have a life', 'Poised for partnership'.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I can think of many critical challenges faced by different parts of the accountancy sector. The challenge I have chosen is common to all practices regardless of size (and to some extend accountants in industry) I think the biggest challenge the industry faces right now is a shortage of available talent. The global recession of 2008-2013 precipitated many accountants leaving the profession or just not being employed as graduates. As a result every single accountancy firm owner, regardless of size, tells me that they just can't get the staff for love or money. Yes, technology is reducing the need for headcount, however, technology can't replace the human factor which will become even more important as the profession automates the manual and mundane tasks.

Who is your mentor and why?

I don't have a formal mentor per se. However, John Moss who I run a joint venture with to generate work for the 'How to make partner' side of my business is the nearest I have to a mentor. Over the last 4 years he has helped me to improve my ability to convert leads into clients, as well as how to think through difficult client situations.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Ingrid Edstrom

Priestess Of Profits

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Working to shepherd the accounting industry into the modern age with better understanding of advancing technology and focus on deeper advisory relationships with clients. Educational offerings include mastermind groups, articles, webinars, and teaching at conferences.

What do you love most about what you do?

We are making the world a better place, built on a foundation of thriving small businesses.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Creation of the Ask A Bookkeeper online educational series for small business owners. This is a platform where accounting professionals can offer education to a broader audience, helping more people.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The traditional methods of providing accounting services need to be retired in favor of a more tech-oriented, automated process that includes deep advisory relationships with clients. Machines may have a brain, but they do not have heart, gut, or imagination. Accountants need to become more creative and develop real connections.

Who is your mentor and why?

Joe Woodard has been instrumental in my education on this path. My first Scaling New Heights set me on the path that changed everything. Having clarity of vision and the tools to implement that vision all stemmed from his courses.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Debbie Spooner

Customer Success Specialist at Spotlight Reporting

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Being the first lady of Xero UK back in 2009/2010 to help transform the UK accounting landscape opening UK Accountants to the cloud and how it could change they worked internally and externally. My time at Xero I wore multiple hats often at the same time to help grow Xero to the company we know and love today. From Xero I stayed with Accountings helping them to grow through delivering valuable content marketing with The Profitable Firm. Most recently I have joined Spotlight Reporting UK as their Customer Success Specialist, supporting our Partners as the move not just onto the cloud but as they shapeshift into the business advisory service, offering they clients a 360 service to help them grow and build their business.

What do you love most about what you do?

Everything. Mostly I love my clients and the people I work with. Many think embracing technology means we move away from human connection, this is far from the truth, we become more connected. I love seeing my partners grow in confidence and in hearing their stories of success and how they have helped transform their client's lives. I also love working with our strategic partners and being inspired daily by the opportunities we can create for our clients and their clients alike, working in this sphere is a fun ride everyday! It does not feel like work to me because I love what I do.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Being at the start of Xero when she broke into the UK and being a fundamental team member for her stratospheric growth in 5.5 years!

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The excuse of not having the time to change. Industries need to make time and to embrace the changes that are happening as opposed to waiting. Be the change that you want to be and own it, otherwise, you will be left behind unable to catch up.

Who is your mentor and why?

My mum firstly, she is far from tech savvy but she is not afraid to try new things and listen and be open to what is occurring. She taught me to be fearless to believe in myself and know that I CAN do what I set my mind to. Professionally 3 women have inspired me - Sally Schmidt integrity, passion and knowledge all in one complete professional and polished package. Danelle Whanga, a great and inspirational coach who has experienced it all has the battle scars to prove it and is passionate about supporting other accountants to grow. Richard Francis - Clear vision passion and belief in why we are doing what we are doing for accountants across the globe

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Shaye Thyer

National Cloud and Advisory Specialist

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I like to take a 'keeping it real' approach to practice and the industry. Sugar coating enables an 'I'm happy in the comfort-zone' mentality which perpetuates stagnation, in my opinion. Talking openly about the challenges of practice, moving and evolving from a traditional form, has encouraged others to speak out. The diversity of thought we're now seeing in the industry and particularly in practice is awesome.

What do you love most about what you do?

Making people's lives better. I know that's a big 'motherhood' statement - but seriously. If I have the opportunity to give a tradie back his Sundays to spend with his family, or out surfing - I've changed his life. If I can get traditional, stale accountants excited about their jobs again - I've changed their lives.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Achieving some long sought after recognition of my though leadership and being appointed in a highly influential National role in a Global accounting practice.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

EQ and people skills. Not that the industry doesn't have these, but our grads aren't being taught these, our hiring practices aren't prioritizing these. We want HUMANS. We have robots now to help us, we need well rounded, entrepreneurial thinking humans that can connect with clients and form real relationships.

Who is your mentor and why?

I don't have an official mentor (but I'd love one), but I do love to spend time with and pick the brain of Chris Hooper. He's out there, and I love it! Always pushing the boundaries. One of the first things he ever said to me that really hit home was "Shaye - you're the ONLY one who thinks you can't do it." Matt Laming imparts a great deal of experience on me daily also, demonstrating that even born-and-bred in a traditional firm, innovation and passion can still happen, and not to get bogged down in the politics of pseudo-corporate (who are really just partnerships in sheep's clothing).

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Amy Vetter

Chief Relationship Officer - Partner Channel at Xero

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I knew I was going to be a CPA at the age of 12, following in the footsteps of my grandfather. I worked in my mom’s small business growing up and learned many of the struggles small business owners have. After graduating college in accounting and working in public accounting, I ventured on my own and opened an outsourced accounting services practice. Its there I learned how influential an accountant can be in understanding a client’s business and helping them fulfill their dreams, not just do the compliance work. I was drawn to education and training and became a speaker in the profession in the early 2000s. I found by helping accountants to learn how they can dive deeper into their accounting systems, it in turn helped more small businesses to get the advice they so desperately need. My life’s work has been to help people understand technology and how it can benefit them, as well as empower them with new skills to achieve their dreams as well.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love seeing the light bulbs turn on in people’s eyes when they learn something new. That excitement is contagious and so gratifying to see. It has been awesome to be a part of this profession during such a major shift that hasn’t been seen in decades. I love being a part of people’s journeys of transformation.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I am launching a book that is published by Wiley on Nov 13th called Integrative Advisory Services:Expanding Your Accounting Services Beyond the Cloud. First off, it was an honor for Wiley to ask me to write it and also gratifying to take the years and years of content I have created and gather it into a “how to” of creating this service line in a practice and becoming an advisor that your clients will cherish.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Time. It has been the same since I started educating and consulting with firms on change management. The intention is there to make the change - but the commitment to doing and allocating the right amount of time to make it a success is always the hurdle to overcome.

Who is your mentor and why?

It is hard to name just one. I am not sure I have ever had an “official” mentor, but I have had people that I admire and ask for advice along the way. That changes over time based on what is going on in my career and what skill gaps I have at the moment. I seek people out to get the advice I need. Sometimes it is people in the industry - but many times its people outside of it that I can confide in and have the real conversations that sometimes are hard to do when its at your workplace. My best friends have been great sounding boards over the years that can relate to the similar experiences they face in their work as well. I followed the example as my mom as a business owner and learned a great deal about being an entrepreneur, as well as being exposed to how to network with others at a young age.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Sammie Johannes

Business Development Executive at Accodex Partners

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I love spending time with each of Accodex’s key suppliers (Practice Ignition, Xero, and Receipt Bank) and participating in challenges and initiatives developed by others in the accounting tech space, for example TSheet’s #TSheetTuesday, in order to build strong relationships with the core team members. Through these relationships, I’ve been able to enable myself, and other members of Accodex’s Corporate team to participate in user-studies that are being run by these companies to ensure that the features they are developing are applicable to what the industry needs, and will help to further empower accountants around the world utilising cloud technology.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being able to empower the future generations of accountants, including the millennial accountants, to grow and break through the barriers that previously stopped others from succeeding. I believe that it is imperative that all students and young adults be fully informed of the different options they have relating to their careers. Mentoring is my way of giving back to the community and educating the younger generation on the topics of accounting, business and entrepreneurship. My contribution to the rest of the community via engagement through various mentoring programs, such as Futurepreneur’s Launchpad, EntrepreTour and HYPA’s ‘The Buck Starts Here’ Onsite/Insight Tours, has ensured that I have enabled Accodex to engage with high school students and young adults, and educate them on the importance of accounting in all aspects of business.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

My biggest professional accomplishment to date has been the career change and promotion from being an associate accountant, to head of business development at Accodex, and focusing on the growth of Accodex’s Partners on a global scale. I have assisted in our expansion into both the UK and USA, with a focus on ensuring the success of our partners in their respective locations.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I believe that the biggest challenge the industry still has to overcome is the adoption of cloud technology and the way that it is enabling automation of a lot of processes that used to be done manually by accountants. Although adoption is steadily increasing year on year, the way that technology is constantly changing is still quite terrifying to the majority of well-established businesses. The automation caused by the technology is causing accountants “billable hours’” to be halved, and this is resulting in the need to shift towards fixed-fee value-based pricing as clients don’t understand why they are still paying the same price when half of the job is automated.

Who is your mentor and why?

I wouldn’t say I have just one mentor, but two, Sophie Hossack (Receipt Bank), and Anna Cochrane (TIQK). Sophie is one of the most inspirational women I’ve met, and has been instrumental in shaping how my career and the role I have with Accodex looks based on her experiences and recommendations. Sophie’s career path has set the trajectory to which my own career path will closely follow. She has shown me that it is important to ensure that you share your passions with others, and in turn has enabled me to grow, and mentor others in sharing their passions. Anna has also been inspirational when it comes to her journey within the accounting space. She has demonstrated her passion for working with technology and how businesses can leverage for growth using technology. Anna’s journey of moving from being in practice, and running and selling her own bookkeeping and systems consulting firm to the business development side of an accounting technology business, is truly showing the way in which she lives and breathes her passion. Anna has provided me with not only mentoring, but the ability to mentor her as well. I’ve loved being able to learn from Anna, and share what I’ve learned with her too.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Laurel Grey

Senior Digital Analyst at RSM Australia

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I've assisted RSM to develop a strategic plan around providing Digital Services to their clients and upskilling our national team of 1,200+ accountants in the myriad of cloud technology tools available on the market. We're currently implementing phase 1 of this strategy and have assisted a range clients in several of our 30 offices so far.

What do you love most about what you do?

Being in the cloud all day long! :-) I love the fact that I get to work directly with clients to completely transform their businesses to cloud technology solutions. The impact on their personal well-being is immense - I love seeing how much lighter they feel when they find the right technology that works in their business so that they can keep their finger on the important details and collaborate effectively with their teams from anywhere in the world, really. The second best part about my job (which is still pretty good) is seeing how using technology to assist clients has improved the confidence and communication skills of our accounting team - and how they take pride in helping their clients with the new skills they have developed.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Definitely being asked to join RSM after working on my own with a small team in my technology integration business. I've gone from assisting clients one by one on projects to now being able to help businesses all across Australia - it has been an honour to be able to bring my knowledge into a large organisation and see the immediate impact.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The reticence to invest in training for accountants is by far the biggest barrier. As technology is more and more embedded in our processes and workflows, and as there are more and more tools available on the market to assist our clients, it's more important than ever to provide our teams with ongoing support and assistance to make the technology work for them and our clients. Although it is not revenue generating (we all know how much firms love the billable hour), it shows the person how valued they are and enables them to step outside of their comfort zone and existing ways of doing things, breaking old patterns. No longer are grads choosing firms because of brand name; they want to know that they will receive a clear training and development track that they will be recognised for.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have had a few great mentors over the years. When I first moved to Australia, Lisa Callaghan gave me my first business advice around picking my own technology for a consulting business I had started. It was the best two hours of my life and I remember thinking, "I want to do what she does for a living!" I think she was bored giving just tech advice rather than accounting advice, but I lapped it up and that was actually the start to me providing tech-specific advice to clients. Tim Hoopmann, formerly of Cornerstone Bookkeeping, took me under his wing soon after that and taught me so much about the industry; he really sparked an interest in me around the power of streamlining processes for businesses. Over the last few years, I've had the pleasure of interviewing heaps of founders and integration experts in the SaaS product space around the accounting sphere for 'Teach Me Tech'. Learning from the likes of Peter Moriarty from itGenius, Scott Gellatly from Scale My Empire, Ben Carter from Yoonet and Sholto Macpherson from Digital First in the hour-long interviews meant I got to ask all the questions I wanted and find out the real ins and outs of what makes a successful technology advisory service. Plus of course finding out about software like PI, Quickbooks, Receipt Bank, Minute It and many more from the founders or key staff themselves has been invaluable. I've felt like I got some amazing mentoring from all of my interviewees on TMT (whether they know they were mentoring me or not, haha!). Now that I am working with RSM I've turned to the likes of Dyean Moodley, who headed up digital transformation at PwC, for her experiences. Full scale digital transformation is a hard nut to crack; I'd say I rely on the advice from all of the above on a daily basis to keep making the most informed decisions going forward.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Emma Fabbro

Accountant at Fusion Accountants

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Have started my practice from scratch, changing the role of a traditional accountant from the man in the Brown suit in the big office to the friendly accountant working from home. I have worked with both individuals and small business. With individuals, I have worked with some who have not completed tax obligations for several years and who have been quite anxious about the possible fines etc. I have made the process very simple and have dealt with the ATO on their behalf. With small business, I have offered a flexible accounting solution in that I work with clients who are cloud based and those who are not yet ready to make this leap.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love working with a large and diverse range of people - I love hearing about where my individual clients work and their experiences in their work places. With my business clients, I love hearing about their business and understanding what they are wanting to achieve. I love offering solutions with respect to tax planning which allow my clients to fully maximise their tax deductions.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Setting up and establishing my own practice. Fusion Accountants has well and truely started from the ground up. There is still a long way to go, but the growth has exceeded my expectations and is very exicting.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Keeping up with cloud based solutions - Understanding where data is stored and keeping it safe.

Who is your mentor and why?

Unfortunately I have never had a personal mentor however I have many people who inspire me and I look up to. Its also important as a sole practitioner to have a large network of accountants I can refer to if I need to and luckily I do have this.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Camille Woods

Chair of Young CAANZ Panel

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I started an Entrepreneurs Discussion Group at CAANZ to help accountants who want to gain entrepreneurial skills. What I love about our group is that we support each other every month and we look out for opportunities for each other.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love it when my accounting students ask advice on their job hunt. They tell me the highs, the lows and the no replies of graduate recruitment. It is fun helping students with their resumes so they can go from retail jobs to accounting jobs. By speaking to students, I collate their tips and share with others so we can all laugh and learn from interview tragedies and triumphs. My second joy in teaching accounting is when students who fail the first test go on to excel at accounting. So satisfying to see someone who thought they were bad at accounting persevere and become financially literate. Especially when students thought they were bad at maths because of their school grades. It gives you confidence when you realise you are more capable than you thought.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

My biggest professional accomplishment to date was when one of my students passed accounting 101. The student had failed twice and if he didn't pass through this semester he was going to lose his scholarship. He was stressed and felt hopeless. We put some strategies together, identified his strengths to change his negative self-talk, worked on the weaknesses and he finished with a Distinction. He did the work but when I saw his exam result, I felt so proud.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The biggest challenge the accounting industry needs to overcome is training the younger generation in useful skills. The younger generation does not want to be trained by a textbook and an exam. We don't even use textbooks and do exams at work. We now have YouTube, artificial intelligence and big data. Accounting education needs to adapt as the current methods are uninspiring.

Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor is my audit university teacher, Amanda White. Amanda innovates in accounting education and updates the curriculum to suit changing graduate recruitment assessments. Amanda uses technology and listens to students, ensuring her courses are relevant and practical.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Carla Caldwell

Founder of Caldwell Consulting & Training LLC

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

As a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network, and previously as a speaker on the Intuit Firm of the Future roadshow, I speak not just about the tools that are being used by progressive "firms of the future," but also the mindset and methodologies needed by the firm leadership. We discuss that they are not just "an accounting firm" but advisors to the very businesses that drive our economies, small businesses. We talk about automating routine tasks not to get bookkeeping and accounting done faster and cheaper, but so that they can focus on more valuable conversations to clients, like how to pay off debt, grow their business, and thrive in the market. Individually, I coach firm owners that are "stuck" mentally and help them see beyond themselves to a greater opportunity that is waiting for them, capitalizing on their experience and intelligence!

What do you love most about what you do?

Seeing accounting professionals get excited about their work again. Helping them move from an hourly billing model to (at least) fixed pricing or even value pricing so that they can have the deeper relationships with their clients and really help them succeed, while making more money and working less hours. Experiencing those moments when accounting professionals really understand they are more valuable than they give themselves credit for.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I have been a Sr Trainer at Sage, Director of Education at Xero, speaker for Intuit and at Scaling New Heights, am a member of the Intuit Global Trainer Writer Network and owner of my own business - but having the opportunity to encourage an accounting professional to take a risk on themselves and seeing it pay off- by landing a client they didn't think they could get or by implementing a fixed price model to be more profitable and provide more value to their clients - is a bigger accomplishment. Seeing another firm thrive and knowing I had a small part to play in it - that is winning!

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

We need to embrace the next generation of accounting professionals. Many firms (in the US especially) are struggling with succession plans, but also in finding the "right" employees. The next generation wants a different type of firm to join that offers flexibility in work environment, type of work and even firm structure. Mentoring and coaching with these professionals can really help to provide a path forward for everyone.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have a couple- one is a woman that I hold in very high esteem for her integrity, honesty, boldness and success in her own business. She encourages me when I need it, and pushes me further than I think I can go constantly. The other is a gentleman I have worked with for many years- who might be one of the smartest people I know, which is why I won't say his name or he'll get a big head. :) But he is a great sounding board and source of wisdom.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Mel Dowie

Founder of Revolutionise Your Bookkeeping

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I am so passionate about helping my fellow UK Bookkeepers be successful and transform into revolutionary firms. I am a UK Ambassador for The Bookkeepers Revolution (run by Mel Power) to help spread the support for bookkeepers and accountants around the UK. I mentor other bookkeepers to help them grow and feel inspired to succeed by offering free trainings, webinars, speaker slots at conferences and offer support on other bookkeeping groups where I can to share my knowledge and help where I can. I am also a Xero Consultant and Trainer and have been 100% committed to Xero since 2011. I train business owners, bookkeepers and accountants on how to use Xero for their businesses and help support their growth and success.

What do you love most about what you do?

Helping others succeed. There is no better feeling to inspire and encourage someone to do well. I love helping business owners "sleep" at night once they feel they understand their numbers and have direction financially. Love what I do.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Creating my financial journal BookieBook and selling just under 100 worldwide!! Winning Business of the Year in our local area.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I have a couple but, I believe our biggest challenge in the industry is transforming the way we work with and in the "cloud". Accounting & Bookkeeping firms have to embrace technology and move into the advisory space in order to survive the revolution we are in. I don't believe AI is a threat rather an awesome opportunity to show our true value now finally to our clients, but there are still some bookkeepers and accountants who fear it. They need to embrace it in order to survive. Hence my passion to help spread this word. Not only bookkeepers and accountants but also the training providers. If they don't adapt and change their approach up and coming accountants and bookkeepers will continue to struggle. So change is needed in this industry.

Who is your mentor and why?

I'm inspired by Mel Power. I love what she is doing for our profession and I hope to help her on this mission in the UK. The mentor I pay for is Nadia Finer. She is a sales and marketing coach. At this point in my business journey that is my weakest area and I need the most help with. It is an important part of any business so I invest a lot into my professional development in this area.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Katie Bryan

Managing Director at Propellor Advisory

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

In the short (incredibly quick) 15 months of running Propeller Advisory I have taken on two trainees to help them establish themselves within the rapidly changing technology driven world that is now the accounting industry. I am a strong believer that we must embrace the future in order to stay ahead of the game for our clients' sake. It is important that young accountants & bookkeepers gain their experience in a future looking firm rather than one that will be lost with the times. This will ensure that businesses will have access to advisors with adequate experience and knowledge to ensure that they are as efficient as they can be. In addition to this, my vision for Propeller Advisory is one that is forward thinking to allow for flexible work arrangements, and other perks like having an in-house creche so my staff never feel like they have to choose work over family.

What do you love most about what you do?

I find this a rather easy question however also a difficult one as I love everything about what I do. What I love most is seeing that look of relief on new clients face when we explain how we can change their processes and relieve them of the stresses that have been weighing them down for years. What I love even more is helping them achieve their goals and KPI's, providing them with love and attention that they have never experienced from other advisors and helping 'propel' them forward.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Although most people would probably expect my biggest accomplishment to be the fact that I was a finalist for Principal of the Year in the Women in Finance Awards, my biggest professional accomplishment to date to me personally is happening to me every day. Every time I win a new client it is my newest biggest accomplishment, every time I receive praise from a client, it is my newest biggest accomplishment, every time I learn a new skill or app it is my newest biggest accomplishment & every time I impact a staff members life in a positive way it is my newest biggest accomplishment.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

In my opinion, the biggest challenge/barrier the industry is facing is holding on to their existing clients. Firms driven by young, energetic people are popping up all over the place. The leaders of these firms are excited by the changes in technology and not only how it can change their lives but also how it can change the lives of their clients. Some "baby boomers" and the accountants working their way up through the firms led by "baby boomers" who aren't embracing the future are going to struggle holding on to their clients when many other firms, like Propeller, are offering far more advisory driven services at a fraction of the cost and with far more touch points. It is no longer acceptable to have yearly communication with your clients. We meet with 80% of our clients every month and the other 20% every quarter. In addition to this, the traditional accounting firm client is changing. Clients are now expecting us to be the "Jack of all Trades" meaning we need to know far more than just the numbers but also be well-versed in sales, marketing and technology.

Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor is Jamie Johns of Sky Accountants. I chose Jamie as a mentor as I admire what he has done with Sky Accountants. Sky is well known for embracing the cloud and technology. They are passionate about their clients and their staff and in addition, have an admirable dedication to the community. Having established Sky Accountants when Jamie was only young himself, I chose a mentor who has already experienced what I am experiencing on a daily basis and has achieved what I am looking to achieve. I hope that I can one day act as a mentor for someone else that is embarking on the journey of self-employment. This would be an amazing privilege.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Dyean Moodley

Digital & Change: Lead Consultant at DEVTHA Consulting

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I started an accounting practice back in 2010 that became the largest uses of Xero nationally within 2 years. As a national firm with 6 offices we transitioned 100s of clients to the cloud and encouraged other practices to do so by sharing our knowledge through event collaborations. I then digitised the entire workflow of each of these offices using add-ons within the Xero eco-system and happily shared my stack with the Xero community. My motivation to work smarter was that I had a young family to raise.

What do you love most about what you do?

I have personally experienced the benefits of being able to work anywhere, anytime, online. It allowed me time for the things that matter most to me. Being able to assist other business owners of accounting firms to do the same is most fulfilling. I love when I move the needle with them to effect organisation change that then impacts their clients. Currently I am a speaker, blogger and consultant to the top 20 accounting firms globally on digital transformation.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I have always strived to be slightly ahead and taking a gamble with an unknown such as Xero was huge, I was risking the family fortune! The bigger risk was when I consulted to PwC, with 9 offices and 500 staff, I was able to successfully formulate and implement a cloud accounting strategy in 18 months. PwC Private clients was a huge ship to turn. I was then the catalyst for PwC's Next in AU and NZ, a digitised platform to service SMEs. PwC's Next has gained global recognition and is now being offerred globally within the PwC network of 168 countries. Next will always be part of my legacy.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The biggest challenge in the industry I believe is the perception that the business model transformation that is becoming an imperative, is about technology. Technology is the enabler, transformation is about people, both staff and clients. Staff and clients need to be comfortable with the why and how of transformation in order for it to be widely accepted.

Who is your mentor and why?

My Dad, he is 82 and has been an accountant who has lived through much change in the profession. He lived through 40 column ledger books, the introduction of computers and now loves cloud accounting! He has inspired me to be the very best that I can be at all times, to strive to empower other people on their respective journeys and to be resilient and adapt to all that life has to offer.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Bryn Robinson

Partner at Fitzpatrick Group

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have always been an early adapter to change and technology. Always looking ahead, constant education and research for the better way to do things. I have implemented many systems inside our business, but also endeavor to share this to our clients and wider community, always gaining and sharing knowledge. Automating as much as possible and improving efficiencies and communication techniques . Saving people time is my great passion. Minimising human error is also a big factor in increasing productivity n any business. Some examples of how I have achieved this have been the move of all softwares to cloud based products, completely removing paper from our office, the introduction of three outsourced accounting teams and attendance at many round table accountants discussion panels. Assisting our clients and the wider community has been achieved by sitting on boards, hosting networking sessions and seminars or workshops for the community, sharing many a blog and generally auditing systems inside other businesses wherever possible to provide direct feedback.

What do you love most about what you do?

The tagline our accounting firm is 'Building Better Businesses'. In general I am simply passionate about and enjoy 'business'. If I can lead a business owner and their team through the maze of business and see them succeeding and smashing their goals and building their empire I feel successful in my role.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Being appointed as the general manager of an established accounting business and building that business forward to its current size, team and market position. Building a model designed to be adaptable to any accounting business in the market. Our model will in the near future be available for just that. Also - beating one of Kyle Sandilands business' in the Optus Business Awards as Best Small Business was extremely fulfilling.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Moat st definately navigating the continuous advances in technology, analysing the different offerings, managing the overwhelm for teams of accountants while still pushing forward and progressing as businesses themselves. I am suprised when speaking with other businesses in our same industry, just how late they have left their commencement to adapt. It concerns me that they wont be able to get to where they need to be in order to have continuing success for themselves and for their clients. I have to admit that at the same time it also pleases me greatly that our business model is so far progressed. I am always willing to share my knowledge, my trials, the failures along the way, and assist other accountants where I can.

Who is your mentor and why?

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and for different reasons at different times. I have had a few along the way. The two that have had the biggest impact being: My business partner has always played a large mentoring role for me because he shares an abundance of knowledge, holds me accountable to what I say I will do and challenges my ideas and me personally to always be better than the day before. Secondly, I sat on the board of one of the most progressive cambers of commerce in NSW for many years as the vice president. The president of the chamber is a very successful business woman and constantly challenged me to step outside my comfort zone, gave support and constructive criticism very effectively and in turn shaped a lot of the way I execute myself personally and in business.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Rebecca Cave

Consultant Tax Editor at AccountingWeb.co.uk

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I write regular articles for AcountingWEB.co.uk on tax issues, and contribute to tax books for Bloomsbury Professional. I also write a number of newsletters for accountants to send to thier clients, and write the weekly practical tax advice newsletter for the Tax Advice Network.

What do you love most about what you do?

Finding an important tax news story and informing accountants about it so they can take action.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Shortlisted for Tax Writer of the year - in 2009 and 2017.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Making tax digital is a huge challenge for the accountancy profession and HMRC. Practices will have to restructure and reskill and help their cleints learn to use digital accounting systems.

Who is your mentor and why?

Janet Cronk - tax partner I worked for in 1990-1995 was my mentor then, but I don't have a mentor now, perhaps I should find one.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Ilze Palmbaha

Vice President, The Association of Accountants of the Republic of Latvia

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I am energized by the continuous learning needed to work at the highest level in this ever-evolving industry. I have been caught into this whirl for more than ten years already, and am constantly excited to accumulate more knowledge, experience, and commitment to become one of the most modern, future-oriented accountants. With my participation as one of the leaders of the Association of Accountants, I contribute in uniting accountants at the level of Baltic countries, in enhancing the prestige of this profession, and in increasing the self-confidence of accountants. Primarily, my goal is to transfer information about the future vision and development of the profession to others.

What do you love most about what you do?

What I love most about my work is the opportunity to enthuse and inspire others. It is gratifying to hear the feedback that the advice and acquired knowledge that I have shared with others has assisted them in creating a more successful professional life for themselves. I am thrilled to see that this invested work has resulted in positive changes in their success stories. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to operate not only as a leader in my industry, but also as a leader in my country, which is immensely satisfying. I have not thought in terms of what I will acquire or what award will be conferred to me. Instead I do these things from my heart. My desire is to be useful and serve my industry and my country.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

The high point of my career, so far, was organizing a successful international conference held in Riga: The international conference on evaluation of the IAS regulation. To produce this conference, I partnered with the he Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Latvia and the European Commission. With a minimum budget and few human resources, we gathered leaders of international organisations and state regulators to discuss potential impacts of business development and globalisation. 

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Presently, the biggest challenge is the continuous and extremely rapid development of technologies which compel accountants to change their thinking. This profession is transforming, so accountants must embrace these changes. If we are open to new knowledge, there are fantastic opportunities for us in the future.

Who is your mentor and why?

I am always interested in learning and growing, so I appreciate those who have shared new ideas and guidance. Three individuals who have been instrumental in my development are:

Mark Lloydbottom (UK) – an outstanding lecturer and marketing specialist for accounting outsourced services, he expands my ideas about this field beyond my region;

Chris Frederisken (USA) – teaches me to comprehend the extensive possibilities of accounting services;

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Lauren Thiel

Investment Analyst at Duxton Asset Management

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

Exhibit A: challenging the Institute of Chartered Accountants, with the help of Accountants Daily, on their poor timetable planning. This year (2017) the CA introduced trimesters, which benefited most CA students. Unfortunately an oversight meant that those completing their final technical module in trimester 2, would be unable to enrol and commence the final capstone module in trimester 3. This meant hundreds of students across Aust. and NZ would have the completion of their studies delayed for up to 7 months. Not only an inconvenience, this had the potential to delay promotions and pay rises. Together we questioned why this timetable had been approved, and then challenged the CA to find a better solution. We successfully saw the CA change their calendar to include a fourth 'trimester' over the summer period which would allow students to complete their studies in a more reasonable time. This had a real impact on over 700 students, including myself. For me, this situation was an opportunity to give young accountants a voice. So many people complained about the issue, but did nothing to change it. So often we are silenced, and often we silence ourselves. I hope it is encourages other people, particularly young women, to speak up when they see an injustice or believe something can be done better. Change the things you cannot accept.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that accounting helps people! If you think about it, everyone needs accounting in one way or another; taxes, goal setting, budgeting, financial planning, investments... the list goes on! Knowing and loving numbers means I can translate people's visions into measureable goals. I can track and report on progress. I can encourage, motivate, inform, and inspire. Together with my clients we make their dreams a reality. One example is the Illuminate Retreat I helped my client, Katherine Schultz, to organise. She came to me with the idea over a business meeting (sushi train dinner). She asked for my help on the financial side. Together we brought this thing to life. It was such an overwhelmingly pleasing and humbling experience to see the real difference that accounting can have in someone's life and in someone's business. We welcomed 12 attendees to the stunning Waverley Estate, hosting them with delicious meals and social opportunities, and then educating and inspiring them with workshops on finance, photography, marketing, goals setting and branding. We could not have achieved this had we not worked together. Every day is different for me and as I progress in my career I am truly understanding the value of my Commerce and Accounting education. This skill set allows me to tackle diverse challenges, to fill unexpected roles and positions, to speak with and earn respect from very senior and experienced professionals, and to help those who need it most.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Apart from being nominated for the Top 50 most Influential Women in Accounting, you mean? While I am extremely proud of my academic achievements, including a GPA of 6.6 and completion of all technical modules of CA studies, my greatest achievement is my willingness to jump in the deep end and have a go. While I was at university studying Tourism & Event Management, my friend Craig Egan of Adelaide Comedy, asked if I could help him with some emails and admin work. Before I knew it I was building spreadsheets, budgeting, and setting up Xero. I jumped in head first and learnt on the job. This is where I first realised I had a natural skill set that helped others, and that I love accounting. Honestly I was disappointed - I tried so hard to stay away from accounting, but alas it is my calling. I gave in and signed up for Commerce. Literally the same day that I started full time with KPMG, I also signed the shareholders agreement for Bey Dance. I had seen my friend Liz Cahalan running her dance school and loved her vision. I offered to help by teaching in Adelaide, and by managing the business admin and accounting side of the business. We joined forces and set up what is now an extremely successful and important business, using dance to teach people about inclusion, confidence, and empowerment. I never doubted my ability to contribute and grow this business, despite my age, or apparent lack of experience in running a business. I had complete faith in my ability to learn and in my work ethic. While KPMG was an exceptional place to work and I learned so much, I knew I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to focus my skills on helping creative small business owners, who either hate business admin and accounting, or don't really understand it. I started The Real Thiel. Technically this would have been a breach of my employment contract with KPMG. Instead of accepting this I asked KPMG if we could rewrite the contract to allow me to run my small business. They said yes! At that stage I only had a year or so of experience and was half way through my CA, but the I know that my clients have appreciated the work I have done with them and the growth we have seen in their businesses. This year (2017) I started tutoring in Corporate Accounting 3 at the University of Adelaide. I applied for the position because I thought it was an opportunity for the students to hear from someone working in the industry, someone young and not dissimilar to them. I wanted to listen to their concerns, give honest answers about my experiences, and to encourage them to think broadly about what their degree could do for them. It was also a chance for me to identify students with great potential and offer them mentorship. If they reached out to me I agreed to catch up, to connect them with industry, or to be a reference for their applications. One of these ended up with a vacationer spot at KPMG, another at Deloitte. I know I am young. I know I have a lot of life to live yet. But I know I also have more education, more experience, and different skills to others. This means I have something valuable to offer the world.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The acquisition and retention of quality people. Being well connected both with the big four and with smaller firms, I have observed this as an issue across the board. I find accounting to be an industry misunderstood by the public. We're all boring tax accountants, right!? I think we need the market the whole industry differently, and target our future accountants. This will hopefully improve the quality of students studying Commerce from which we can select our staff. Students in high school and university need to understand the real benefits of working as an accountant. What it really means to be an accountant. We all know an accountant needs to have integrity, be professional, act with integrity, and be qualified to provide an opinion. What people seem to not know is that we have incredible problem solving skills, that even as a graduate you will be speaking to some of the most senior business leaders in our state, that your job may require you to travel, that your colleagues become your friends, that we work hard and play harder, and that the skills we build position us to be able to either service large clients, or manage a company ourselves. We could also focus on the work of our clients and what we have helped them to achieve. Once we find and hire these people we sadly lose them. Everyone has a different reason, but there are certainly some common themes. In my opinion we are losing our 20-30 year olds because they lack purpose in their work. We work so hard, and such long hours, but why? For the first time work needs to be able more than the task itself. We need to understand WHY we are doing something. We need to be contributing to a greater goal. Without this we lack purpose, motivation, and reason. The more senior staff are usually not in this same age bracket and are struggling to understand or address this problem. Perhaps we need to market our work better internally; get everyone really excited about doing this tax return! Hire well, yes. Know who you hired though and recognise why they are fabulous. What unique skills do they bring to the team? What are they interested in? What is there personal goal here? What is their 'why'?? Now match the job to them. Show them how their needs will be met, and skills used. Encourage them, often. Discuss team and division goals; align interests and motivate the team to work together to achieve something great.

Who is your mentor and why?

Chris Hooper, CEO Accodex. He refers to himself as the "Kanye West" of accounting. For the record, I came up with that.... Chris is uber confident, loud and proud, just like Kanye. Some may say arrogant. But you struggle to argue with a person who has proven their worth, who is taking on the big end of town, who is leader of an exceptional team, and is one of the most well known accountants in industry. Chris offered to be my mentor when I was feeling very low and lost in 2015. I had been through the end of an engagement, wanted to leave Adelaide, and was reconsidering my career in Accounting. Chris, along with a few other key influences in my life, talked me off that cliff. Rather than simply being another voice or opinion, Chris gave me the skills I needed to be able to make difficult and significant decisions for myself. His belief in my potential reignited my self-confidence. Sometimes we forget our fabulous we are and we need someone to remind us. Chris is a strong advocate for me, and for all young women in the industry. He knows his position can be powerful, and he has used it to educate, propel, connect and encourage women, including me. On your way to the top you have the opportunity to choose your company and he is making his best effort to ensure we all achieve more diversity and better balance in leadership.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Sandi Leyva

President at Accountants Accelerator & Brainways Training & Development

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I run a program called Accountant's Accelerator that helps accountants in practice with marketing, time management, practice management, pricing, and staffing advice. I also host a weekly free webinar series called Accounting Biz Talk. I co-host along with Michelle Long the Ultimate Accounting vCon; it was the first virtual conference in the industry and is the only one run exclusively by women.

What do you love most about what you do?

It makes my day when I receive a testimonial from a client that says their business has improved or that they have learned so much. You can see them here: https://accountantsaccelerator.com/testimonials/ and on the Client Results tab.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Although I've won many thought leader awards and am very humbled and grateful for them, one of my biggest accomplishments is the 401K we set up for my employees. To think that I have a business that can provide full employee benefits to my team is something I never thought I would accomplish. It sounds small, but it's big to me to be able to give back to both clients and employees.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

There are so many. Can I name 2? Accountants need to move beyond compliance and embrace advisory services so they can help their small business clients better. This means solving 2 issues: a knowledge of business (not just accounting) and better communications. Second, I have to mention diversity. I just don't understand why we haven't made more progress in the last 20-30 years. We need better education on the subconscious biases, more transparency, and more open minds who want to fix this.

Who is your mentor and why?

I've had multiple coaches throughout my career, but not a mentor.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Holly DeVito

Founder at Sum Of All Numbers

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

When I started Sum of All Numbers in 2006, the bookkeeping industry had virtually zero standards in accreditation. I was determined that my company would be different. I established a continuing education model for my employees to continually improve their skills as bookkeepers and virtual CFO's. I instituted and fine-tuned a virtual model operating in the Cloud at a time when such technology was virtually unheard of in the industry, allowing us to help clients all over the world improve their financial health, as well as providing a flexible work environment for my team.

What do you love most about what you do?

My passion, without a doubt, is helping struggling entrepreneurs overcome their challenges: from books that are falling behind, to unclear and inconsistent reporting, to improving their profitability.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Growing from 1 to 400 clients within a few short years, and becoming a top 50 Cloud Accountant by Intuit by the time I was 33.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I have to say the biggest challenge is threefold: inconsistency, lack of state board licensing, and outsourcing. In my accounting view, standards and an invested mindset by any accounting team are absolutely vital to providing financial stability to a company. Inconsistent and inaccurate financial data are a recipe for disaster. Outsourcing invites both dangers.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have two mentors. First, my mother. We lost my father at a very young age. My mother fought "tooth and nail" to not only provide for us, but to stand strong in the face of adversity. I honestly could not have found the fortitude to start and build my company without her example of perseverance. Mike Michalowicz has become my mentor over the past year as I have become a Profit First professional. His passion for helping struggling business owners overcome entrepreneurial poverty mirrors my own. His business model of continuing education and support for the professionals who choose to become certified in this ground-breaking approach to cash flow management.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Rachel Fisch

Accountant Group Leader at Sage Canada

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

This new age of the accounting industry, particularly the cloud accounting segment, has done an amazing job of being open to collaboration. I believe I have been an example in setting the stage, giving permission for those that needed it, that not only is it okay to collaborate with those once thought of as your competition, but that we are all better for it. I believe in the power of collaboration so fiercely that I created a community to foster not only collaboration of bookkeepers and accountants across my country and the world, but also between them and the software they use in their firms and promote to their clients every day. This created a powerful momentum of openness allowing the accountants and bookkeepers to be part of the development process where the apps had fertile ground to test and launch features needed to continually improve their product. Apps that were in their infancy a few years ago are not only growing, they’re thriving. Bookkeepers and accountants ready to give up out of isolation and frustration are flourishing.

What do you love most about what you do?

I absolutely love being the help for others that I felt I never had. There are hundreds of thousands of bookkeepers and accountants around the world. Nobody, not a small firm owner, not a single mom working from home, not a technician at a Big 4 firm, should ever feel like they are on their own. I am honoured to be the one to shout it from the rooftops and let them all know they don’t have to be. But only because I know exactly what that feels like. I made some big mistakes on my own – with my staff, my clients, and my firm. I just want to make sure as many people learn from my mistakes as possible instead of having to make their own. I love seeing and knowing the difference I’ve made so they didn’t have to learn the hard way too.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Whatever my current accomplishment is will always feel like the biggest. My biggest accomplishment will never be behind me. My previous biggest professional accomplishments have included: taking on roles when I had a fraction of the job requirements, slowly working my way up to Corporate Controller, starting my own bookkeeping firm and growing it over five years, taking a national role at a Big 4 firm, and now being an advocate for the accounting industry in a way I never thought possible. My passion for the success of accountants and bookkeepers have led me from community building to supporting 16,000 Sage Accountant Network members just in Canada alone. My next biggest professional accomplishment will be finding even larger platforms to advocate on behalf of accountants and bookkeepers at a higher level.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The power of Practice Ignition’s Influential Women in Accounting is that it is not dependent on what accounting software is used by these women. I am, for once, able to openly celebrate women I love and admire. The barrier between us? In our regular everyday lives, we use and support different accounting software. That’s it. The culture and strategy of some of these companies actively pit amazing women against each other, some who even support the same product. Unfortunately, this is not a difficult thing to do as women tend to take things we are passionate about very seriously. It takes the strongest of women to stand up to such manipulations and hopefully we will see more of those arise. Ideally the industry should be able to elevate and celebrate women and help us connect and share successes regardless of which software we use.

Who is your mentor and why?

I don’t have one mentor. I have a global tribe of amazing women who sustain, encourage and protect each other furiously. Through their love I have found the strength to continue supporting others when I didn’t even think I could support myself.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Cyndi Thomason

President at Bookskeep

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have been active in implementing Profit First and helping other firms develop their capability with Profit First. This cash flow management program helps Accountants, Bookkeepers and Coaches advise their clients on improved financial business health.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love guiding clients to financial freedom! I get to help them grow their business in a healthy way not burdened with debt and stress.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Achieving the 2017 Profit First Professional Go-Giver award to helping other accounting professionals implement Profit First.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

I think the industry should become more involved in helping increase financial literacy among our clients. Many of my clients come to me unable to understand their financials and this negatively impacts their ability to make sound decisions and to have confidence in their decisions.

Who is your mentor and why?

Mike Michalowicz When I launched my business in 2014 I heard Mike speak at QB Connect and he gave everyone in the audience a copy of Profit First. I read it on the way home and immediately saw how my clients could benefit from it. As a Mastery Member of Profit First, Mike coaches me on how to grow my business. He offers such sound advice and as a result my business is growing!

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Natasha McLaren-Doerr

Founding Partner at Flow CPA

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I believe that by through the adoption of innovation in accounting, not only through technology but also in the expansion of the advisory services that we can provide, we can truly add value to our clients and their businesses. Together with the help of my business partner, we have started an accounting firm where this is our core value.

What do you love most about what you do?

Working with the clients. Helping them to understand the financial aspects of their companies and watching their business grow and achieve their goals

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Joining together with like minded colleagues to create an accounting firm of the future, where innovation in technology and service to our clients is our core value.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Eliminate hourly billing altogether. As stated by my favorite thought leaders and podcasters Ron Baker and Ed Kless (The Soul of Enterprise), not only is this practice unprofessional but it is unhealthy for the culture of the accounting industry. I have witnessed the flaws in hourly billing throughout my career and have found that it fosters terrible client relationships because customers absolutely dread the surprise at the end of the engagement. Secondly, it is a team culture destroyer in accounting firms who use it as an indicator of their employees performance. Finally, only for the firms who have gotten rid of hourly billing altogether, get to see just how much time and money was spent to administering it.

Who is your mentor and why?

Way ahead of her time, my mentor was one of the first partners I had worked for at BDO. She taught me that the value of an accountant was not in the preparation of tax returns and post mortem number crunching, but in our role as educators and advisors helping our clients understand their finances and help them set the tasks needed to achieve their business and life goals.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Joanne Ort

Founder at Ort CPA

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have fully embraced technology as my firm evolves into a firm of the future. I employ more technology, hire QBO advanced bookkeepers, empower my team to be problem solvers who provide solutions and impeccable customer service. Using app based technology has dramatically reduced the amount of time spent on each client. Thus my revenue has doubled in the last year. I only take on clients who fit my firm's values and processes. I value each and every team member for their skills and new solutions they bring to the table. I strive for a work/life balance for all. I respect and trust my team!

What do you love most about what you do?

Bottom line is, I love helping people! When I can empower a small business owner to make a change that improves their business, it improves their life! When I can help a tax client save money, it makes me so happy! They become a forever client. To this day I have never had to advertise my business. Word of mouth is all I have ever needed, and business is great!

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

The ability to inspire people and empathize. I have helped numerous clients who have come to me as a last resort before they give up. I talk to them in a way that is not condescending, I understand where they are coming from - hey, I'm a business owner too. I give them tools, ideas, strategy. I empower them. Their success is my success.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

FEAR OF TECHNOLOGY! Why work harder, when you can work smarter? When I hear from my clients and new employees about their previous accounting firms, I am shocked by their stories. That fear leads to bad advice for clients. The past, aka the Dark Ages, is not where I look for today's solutions!

Who is your mentor and why?

I would have to say Gloria Steinem. She blazed a trail for all of us women. I'm simply trying to follow in her wake.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Diane Lucas

Accounting Consultant at Direct Management

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I have always been one to help industry colleagues to become better at what they do. Before cloud really took off, I was always involved in organising network catchups and conferences for the specialists in Reckon Accounts software. When cloud accounting started to really have an impact, I soon realised that networking catchups relating specifically and only to one desktop program wasn’t going to work. Hence the birth of Cloud Storm – a Facebook group for accounting professionals and the industry software that supports us – all cloud based software irrespective of affiliation. Using this platform I am able to keep members posted on relevant articles and industry developments. We also host regular webinar events showcasing new/upcoming/interesting software. I have written various blogs and articles that highlight my own journey and industry thoughts. Close to my heart is encouraging Australians to venture beyond our shores to overseas conferences – exploring the wider financial world is a growth experience in itself. I also act in an advisory capacity to various industry bodies where I can share my insights as required.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I am a change provider/educator to both clients and our profession. When a new client comes to me and they are confused and upset about their business I love that I can set them straight and fill them with confidence again. Taking away the burden and stress from clients is a buzz. Same with other bookkeepers and accountants – I love that I can show them how to use software to make their businesses sing. It can be as simple a s a discussion around cloud accounting software platforms or more specifically a discussion around the particular software used in my own practice. It is all about the outcomes we are able to facilitate. Identify the pain – work out a solution.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Winning both the Accountants Daily – Bookkeeper of the Year 2017 and the Women in Finance Bookkeeper of the Year 2017 awards. These awards recognise the impact bookkeepers have on being change facilitators in the businesses they serve. Finally there is a true recognition of the bookkeeping profession as a profession in its own right. Bookkeepers can move out of the shadow of the Accountant profession and feel proud to be stand independently. As a profession made up predominantly of women it is also a great recognition of women in our industry and the key role that we play in our professions and in the lives of our clients.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

To raise the profile of bookkeepers to be at peer level with accountants. The bookkeeping industry has long been viewed as a secondary and minor role to accounting. However, we’re now seeing the professionalism of bookkeepers being recognised. Bookkeepers provide a level of advisory service to our clients that is not necessarily being met by their accountant. The complementary nature of our professions means that our clients are better serviced overall and we are respected by them as an integral part of their business. Clearly not all bookkeepers want to reach this level, but for those that do, the challenge is to overcome a mindset of limits. This mindset keeps a bookkeeper from wanting to reach beyond their natural comfort zone of data entry and compliance. A disruption to this could affect the perceived harmony of the bookkeeper/accountant relationship when in reality the opposite could occur. A case of not acting because of fear.

Who is your mentor and why?

As a business changes over time and individuals grow, so does the need for the type of mentoring. Mr Clayton Oates (no introduction required) was the person who encouraged my first ventures overseas in 2013. His enthusiasm and ability to paint a vision of potential and opportunity had me on a plane to Sleetercon 2013 in Vegas. Our friendship has grown these last few years as we continue to travel overseas together to various conferences. Mr Thomas Meier was introduced to me in 2013 (just before my first Sleetercon – what a year!). He is an independent business consultant that saw some potential in my business and took a chance on me. Conversely too, I saw in Thomas an approach very different to any other coach/consultant I had been involved with in the past. Bringing with him years of corporate land expertise, Thomas uses these experiences to upskill small businesses to think and perform as a larger business. Business size isn’t the most relevant – creating a growth mindset with skills to succeed is what he has taught me. We have now worked together for 4 years. I would not be the Award winning bookkeeper that I am without the guidance and challenges that Thomas provides. He is an integral part of my business Direct Management and I expect our professional relationship to continue to grow and develop as new experiences and changes present themselves.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Steph Hinds

Chief Ninja at Growthwise

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I attend several accounting events and speak and share from my own experiences and the knowledge i've gained from engaging with other leaders in both our industry and others. I release a free series in conjunction with Karbon as well as write blog articles to share my knowledge with the industry - my mission is to help accountants achieve all that they imagine!

What do you love most about what you do?

The amazing small businesses that I get to work with everyday and the exciting journeys that I get to see them embark on, seeing them go from small operators right through to multinational businesses for some of my clients has been incredible

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Being engaged by multiple vendors in the industry to present on different topics.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The education and discussion that is around compliance and advisory. Our basic work is being automated more and more every year it is crucial that our young teams (and existing) are taught skills that are going to make them amazing accountants in the future i.e. business analysis and people skills

Who is your mentor and why?

Agus Echague - because she keeps me accountable and pushes me to achieve more all the time.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Bianca Bowron-Cuthill

Head of Customer Success Australia

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I've been working in the accounting industry for more than 17 yrs. I've covered numerous roles within Customer Care, Product Development, Consulting & Product Mgt. In my last roles I led the local product efforts to round out the product market fit of Quickbooks Online to help deliver a new platform of Quickbooks Online Accountant alongside one of the best mobile accounting solutions for Australian Small Businesses, taking our customer growth from 7,000 to 55,000 in a year and a half. I now leading one of Australia's Best Customer Care teams who are the true super heros who are prepared to spring into action to assist our hard working Bookkeepers & Accountants with their questions relating to Quickbooks Online or Quickbooks Online Accountant. I also actively mentoring teams across the Intuit business to help them better understand the accounting industry to ensure that we're focusing on building customer focused solutions. Whether they are in Care, Sales, Marketing or Product, I'm happy to spend time with team members and share my insights with them on what is happening in our industry or how this may affect our customers.

What do you love most about what you do?

I truly love working with my team and in an industry and business that is fast paced and always changing. The accounting tech industry is far from boring, which is why I'm still in it 17yrs later. You have to be passionate about what you do and my team help to inspire & motivate me every day. They are always happy and make it a joy to come to work. Their customer obsession is infectious and pushes me to want to continue to drive change on behalf of the team and our customers.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I'm proud of a number of individual achievements career wise, however winning the Customer Service Institute of Australia's 2017 Service Excellence Award for a small contact centre is by far my biggest achievement. This was our first time ever entering an award as a team. We were relieved to be able to complete the submission given we were assessed against the International Customer Service Standard, and the team is only 4 years old. We were being assessed alongside hundreds of Australia's best companies. To be named as a finalist was a huge surprise and honestly we were thrilled to have made it that far. To have the whole team present at the awards ceremony and the sheer joy and excitement in taking home the # 1 position in our category, (beating Commonwealth Bank!) is a moment that myself and the team will never forget. As the leader of the team its great to get the external recognition that confirmed what i knew all along, that we have the best customer care team in the accounting industry.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

This is such a fast paced industry to be in that I think that the biggest challenge the industry needs to overcome is staying up to date with technology. Its critical for bookkeepers and accountants to stay up to date with what the latest apps & solutions that are out there not just for their own business, but for their clients so they can help lead them through this change. The role of accountants and bookkeepers will always be an important one for small businesses, but the tools that they use will change and they need to change and keep pace with them. I like to use an analogy of a carpenter who is building a roof with a hammer and nails. The need for a roof will never go away, however now a carpenter can use a nail gun to get the job done so much faster than he/she used to. Cloud solutions and applications in our ecosystem are great tools that allow accountants and bookkeepers to still focus on completing the core job, but by leveraging new tools and technology around them, will help them do the job more efficiently.

Who is your mentor and why?

I don't have a mentor as such however am still closely connected to a number of people who I admire and respect from over my 17 yrs in this industry. I know that I can call on them at any time if I need their advice. I'm fortunate enough to have three great coaches who provide great support and clarity to me. They encourage and push me to get out of my head and give me the confidence to dream big and get out of my comfort zone. I can't emphasize enough the benefits of having a coach who is in your corner. They will help you to look within for the answers and will help keep you accountable for achieving your own goals.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Juliet Aurora

President & CEO at AIS Solutions

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I am the co-founder of Kninja Knetwork, which is an online educational community for bookkeepers. The premise behind Kninja is that there are so many resources and learning avenues available for accountants, but not for bookkeepers. Kninja focuses on 3 areas to help bookkeepers - 1-Technology: learning and staying current with QBO and the 3rd party apps that integrate with it. 2-Sales and Marketing: Helping bookkeepers learn how to market their practices in the new online digital world through their website and social media. 3 - Managing their Practice: How to manage workflows and develop systems and processes within their practice, as well as how to hire the right people and develop the culture within their organization. In addition, Kninja offers a group mentoring program which meets virtually once a week to help them take their business to the next level. I strongly believe that the stronger the bookkeeping community is, the better support the small business owner will have, and the positive impact on the economy overall is immeasurable.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love sharing all of the things that I've learned in building my business over the last 17 years. Not only with our business owner clients, but through Kninja, with other bookkeepers. If they can learn from the mistakes that I've made, and I can help them achieve more, faster, then I will have made a difference, which is what I love to do. I also love helping my team grow and develop so that they also feel like they are making a difference when they come to work everyday.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

I've been fortunate to have so many. I think that the most recent one would have to be the most exciting. Our firm was chosen as Canada's Finalist in the Intuit Firm of the Future contest. We are now competing globally against 3 other firms for the Global Firm of the Future title.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Our industry is undergoing a massive change. The biggest challenge that I see is accounting professionals not recognizing the impact of this monumental shift to their practice and their lives. If members of our industry don't start to adapt their businesses and learn the new technology that is now available, my concern is that their livelihoods will disappear and they will no longer be relevant. The challenge is getting the message out that this change is happening - Now.

Who is your mentor and why?

I've been fortunate to have so many throughout my business career. I still have several in my life, and they serve different purposes. My father - who has always been my biggest supporter and drilled into me as a child that there wasn't anything I couldn't do if I set my mind to it. My husband, who has more confidence and faith in me than anyone I know, and believes in me, when I have doubts. And my business coach, who pushes me outside of my comfort zone to reach higher and higher levels both personally and with my business.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Jen Gerrard

Managing Director at Gerrard Financial Consulting Limited

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

During my career I have trained budding accountants from the Big 6, smaller accounting firms and those working in industry alike - enabling them to progress through, and achieve, various accountancy qualifications. Shortly after founding Gerrard Financial Consulting (GFC) I realised that accountants are only exposed to general accounting for sole traders, partnerships and private limited companies during their training. What about those working in Not For Profit or charity finance? I established a training business, focused on developed our own suite of classroom-based charity finance courses which we rolled out across Cardiff, Bath and Bristol. In 2018 we will be launching an online training facility specifically aimed at accountants and bookkeepers working in the charity sector, to expand on the training we are already providing.

What do you love most about what you do?

At Gerrard Financial Consulting, we provide pain relief for charities – all done in the cloud, with the efficiencies of a virtual practice. I fell in love with the charity sector whilst training in the '90s - the scope to add real value and work with such passion and enthusiasm for a cause is good for the soul. I like to think that, in some small way, I make a difference each time I go to work. I focus exclusively on the charity and not-for-profit (NFP) sector and work collaboratively with our clients to help improve their financial overview, boost available funding and enhance impact reporting. Common pain points for NFPs are time and money. I work with clients to deliver time-savings and cost-efficiencies – including training up charities to do stuff themselves and achieve proper control over their finances. We have no desire to be a compliance factory at GFC. As trusted partner to our clients we believe in adding real value to our collaborations, through our accounting, training and consultancy. My ethos is to help charities become more efficient, demonstrate good governance and to spend their funding wisely – in doing so, maximising their impact on the world.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Seeing Gerrard Financial Consulting shortlisted for the Accounting Web Practice Excellence Innovative Firm of The Year and New Firm of The Year Awards in 2016 and subsequently being invited to become a columnist for Accounting Web. The magazine publishes two articles per month, aimed at those working within my specialist sector - the first being a technical sector update for charity accountants and the second being a practical look at topical issues affecting the charity sector.

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

In recent times there has been a movement in the industry to shift from the traditional time-sheet and hourly billing model to value-based pricing. Combine this with the role of the accountancy practice shifting from that of an annual compliance factory to one of business advisory and the industry has some key challenges right there. However, in my opinion, one of the fundamental longer-term issues is the need to embrace digital working – on a much greater scale than simply switching from desktop to cloud-based accounting software packages for example. Never before has the industry been under such pressure in connection with fees and profit margins. Potential clients are still wary of ‘value pricing’, almost preferring the unknown of hourly billing in case they are paying ‘over the odds’ when Joe Blogs down the road can (on the face of it) perform the same service for £300 less. Digital, remote or virtual working – however you perceive it – allows for a more streamlined business model. Lower overheads, a greater potential client reach than a local accountancy practice with a physical presence and a larger talent resourcing pool (i.e. global) are just some of the benefits available. This is why Gerrard Financial Consulting operates entirely as a virtual practice, with team members based all over the UK. Of course, there are always pros and cons of any business model, but I believe that a changing and more competitive industry calls for greater flexibility. Those accountants who embrace technology and have a proactive and adaptable business model are the ones who will ultimately succeed in our dynamic environment.

Who is your mentor and why?

As a newly-qualified accountant I had two mentors, both being partners of the accounting firm within which I trained. These two individuals were inspirational at every level and really stoked my aspirations. These days there are a number of individuals to whom I turn on a regular basis for advice and support. As a small business owner I made it a priority from the outset to surround myself with those people who had the skills I needed but sadly lacked. For example, Karen Reyburn of The Profitable Firm has been invaluable to our marketing and online presence journey. Having a number of people to call upon allows a different, objective perspective on many of the challenges faced on a daily basis as a business owner.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Bec Faucett

Accountant

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

I pride myself on giving as much time to graduates and my team as they need to build their confidence in becoming a great accountant. No issue is too small and no question is too simple to warrant my full attention. If you show your confidence in someone, whether is a staff member or a client, the results they can achieve are amazing. Sometimes all they need is a push in the right direction.

What do you love most about what you do?

I really become a part of people's live. They trust in me and I love seeing them achieve their goals.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Completing the CA and being promoted to assistant manager

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

Changing technology, it should be more embraced by the industry as a whole

Who is your mentor and why?

I've had many so far, but James Harrison has really opened my mind to a more modern and client friendly version of accounting.

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2017

Nicolette Maury

Managing Director at Intuit Australia

Please provide an example of how you have helped the industry, and the people working in it, progress and change for the better.

1) Building a team of 120+ Australian advocates within Intuit who are passionate about solving for the needs of the industry and innovating to keep evolving 2) Developing resources, tools and events to enable SMBs, accountants, bookkeepers, influencers and developers to learn from best practices and from each other 3) Enabling the Intuit global and local teams to build products that continuously evolve to meet the changing needs of the industry

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I get to spend so much time learning about the needs of Australian SMBs and their trusted advisors, and directly influence meeting those needs.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

Growing the Australian Intuit business to power the prosperity of 100,000 Aussie small businesses in under 4 years - it required a great deal of testing, learning, focus and persistence, and the journey keeps going!

In your opinion, what is the current biggest challenge/barrier the industry needs to overcome and why?

The changing role of accountants and bookkeepers as technology helps to reduce manual work - it requires people to rethink the value they add to their clients, which is a significant change, and in many cases requires people to increase their knowledge or skill level, e.g. around technology integrations, business processes /workflow, and business advisory. It also requires a mindset shift in some cases - the majority of SMBs are still not adopting cloud accounting technology, so there is a level of education and change leadership required from the industry to help them reap the benefits of real-time collaboration and eliminating data entry.

Who is your mentor and why?

I have many mentors across different parts of my life - former bosses are great mentors on leadership or business challenges, external peers are a way to maintain perspective and get different points of view on many topics, and my family provides a fantastic sounding board on just about anything!

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