When did you know you wanted to become an accountant?
I was aware of accounting during my high school days when my little sister took an accounting class but that was the extent of my understanding. I would not see accounting again until my sophomore year at Rice when I had to take an accounting class as part of my business minor (and even then I chalked it up as a necessary evil in the pursuit of my education. It was hard and I think I passed with a B-).
I kinda fell into the accounting profession after my internship with my current employer (during my internship I actually worked in the corporate budgeting department). There was a position in our financial reporting department that became available and I was interested because it was finance-related (or so I thought). And as an economics major, at the time I thought it would be a good-fit. That was in 2013 and I've been there ever since!
When did you know you wanted to become a CPA?
I had first heard about the CPA through my old college roommate but, as an econ major, I wasn't sure if that was the right track for me when I graduated in 2012. It seemed like a lot of work that I wasn't in the mindset to commit to nor was I sure of my career goals at that time.
I became interested in pursuing my CPA after my promotion to financial reporting supervisor in 2015. But I really wasn't serious about it until 2017 after my old college roommate, who is also Black, passed hers (on her first attempt!) that I felt like it was truly an attainable goal for me. At that point, I also knew that if I wanted to have any long-term tenure with my current employer that I should get my CPA.
Do you have any family members who are also CPAs?
No family members that I am aware of. Most of my immediate family are healthcare workers. (However most of the Black CPAs I know have been people I have met through my job).
Where did you sit for the CPA exam?
How many times did you take each part? FAR - ; REG - ; AUD - ; BEC?
In your own words, what are the advantages of being a Black CPA?
Exclusivity. Respect. Trust. Bragging rights.
More negotiating and bargaining power for jobs, positions, and salaries.
And of course money!!!!
(And now with the renewed interest in Black economics, people are interested in supporting Black businesses/endeavors so should I ever decide I wanted to open my own firm, I would have support from my community).
What do you do now professionally?
I am a financial reporting manager and have been in this position since 2018. Using salary.com definition - I am responsible for managing the preparation and distribution of periodic financial statements and disclosures for external use. Ensures that reports, filings, and documentation complies with company's regulations, professional standards, and SEC and (US) GAAP reporting guidelines.
Under my directive, I have filed 8-Ks, Proxy statements, Forms 10-Q/Ks, Form 11-Ks, Earnings (Press) Releases, and assisted with preparation of debt offering materials. I work extensively with our external auditors and assist with the annual audits and quarterly review activities with external auditors. I also create and maintain a financial calendar to inform parties of necessary deadline adherence for the following processes: financial close, BOD package, press release, 10-Q/K, and other SEC items.
Additionally, our reporting department has oversight of the internal reporting functions to executive management via a monthly CODM package where I manage the preparation of consolidated/entity-wide financials, provide variance analytics against budgets and actuals, and other analysis.
Financial reporting has a high degree of involvement with other accounting departments as we rely on their functions in the preparation of our financial statements and disclosures. So it really requires a user to be a "jack-of-all-trades" (and a master of none - HA!) to understand the "what" behind the "why".
What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in accounting?
Not every accountant does things with journal entries, reconciliations, or voluminous data. So don't let that deter you. While I was a staff, I spent a lot of time talking to others from different accounting departments to better understand their processes and I realized then if a position became available in those operational/transactional areas, it would not be something I would be interested in pursuing.
Not everyone starts in the Big 4 (or any auditing firm for that matter) - I did not!
As everyone says most accountants can do finance, but the reverse of that isn't true :)
Find someone whom you trust and built a good working relationship and learn from them. Listen to their stories, ask questions, and seek advice. I am not sure if I would call it a mentorship per se, but just be honest about your intentions.
I graduated college in 2012 with a 2.95 GPA from a prestigious university. Please don't be ashamed or think you're a failure. That is no way a predictor of your future success. Additionally, my first employee eval as a full-time staff said I needed work. But I didn't let it stop me or become discouraged by it. Fast forward to 2020, I am a manager making over six-figures and who also passed their CPA on their first attempt (within a four month timeframe!!!). I have a very bright future ahead of me.