A Closer Look: Cindy Adams
CEO, Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants
Friday, December 27, 2013 7:00 AM
Cindy Adams began her role as CEO of the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants (ISCPA) in February 2012, after “retiring” from a 26-year career with Holmes Murphy & Associates Inc. She started out as the insurance broker’s accounting manager in 1986 and was named controller four years later. She later transitioned to the information technology side of the business, all the while serving on various committees with the ISCPA, which she led as president in 2004-2005. She currently serves on a national task force on the future of learning with the American Institute of CPAs.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Drake University
Professional certifications: Certified public accountant; certified property and casualty underwriter; certified global management accountant
Hometown: Gregory, S.D.
Family: Husband, Alan, and two sons: James, who is married to Sarah, and Bradley
What attracted you to this position?
One thing that really drew me to this job is that CPAs deal with so many complex issues, and I think we’re very key to helping businesses around the state as their trusted advisers. I look at all these young professionals going into the field, and all the people we need to make aware of the career you can have as a CPA - the door is just gigantic for them. One of my charges is career awareness: How can we (shift) the paradigm of the CPA that we’re not just the guys who sit behind a desk, that we really help problem-solve for businesses and help them strategically to get where they want to go? I think the timing is just so good because there are so many Millennials looking for jobs.
What kind of initiatives have there been to increase career awareness?
One thing we started this last year is called Leaders Emerging in the Accounting Profession (LEAP), to get young professionals (40 and younger) together so they can get to know each other and so we can educate them about the great opportunities, because they’re emerging leaders. A couple of weeks ago, we did a career awareness conference at Des Moines Area Community College and we invited about 125 accounting and business majors from around the state. I don’t think a lot of them knew all the opportunities available. ... One thing I’m very adamant about is that we have to challenge our members as a group to recommend the profession to others.
What are some ways the organization is using technology to connect with members?
We have a Facebook page; then we set up a LinkedIn presence and a members-only group. We know that collaboration is key among members, so members can go to a place to ask each other questions (such as), “Is there a software package that’s helpful?’” or are they having trouble with some government entity, for instance. What we’re finding is that there are groups of people that we’ve never heard or seen or communicated with. In my opinion, we’re touching a whole new group of people.
What portion of the state’s CPAs is the organization capturing?
The state shows there are about 8,700 CPAs in Iowa, and we have approximately 4,400 members. We know that 70 percent of our members are over 40, so we have a huge initiative right now to bring in as many of those younger CPAs as possible. We’re working really hard on leadership initiatives and collaborations to try to get (younger CPAs) engaged.
What’s been your biggest professional challenge?
When I switched from accounting to running a technology group, that was a huge challenge for me because it’s just a totally different animal. You’ve got to dig in and understand at least high level what this stuff does.
Why is the national organization studying learning?
We want to make sure that we’re planning ahead (for continuing education), because you can’t turn on a dime on this kind of stuff. It’s kind of neat to be part of that, because I think that’s something that will affect all of us - what will learning look like in the future?
What do you enjoy doing outside of your work?
I’m a huge sports fan; I love my Boston Red Sox. I went to the last game at Fenway Park; that was so cool. Carl Yastrzemski’s bronze (statue was unveiled) – that was great. I’m a big Drake fan too, I try to go to as many of the basketball games as possible. I have season tickets to the men’s and women’s games. And I spent a lot of time watching my kids do sports, soccer and baseball. Now we go to the Iowa State football games because my son was on the team for a couple of years; he never played, he was a walk-on. And I also like going to the movies. I went to “Thor” on Saturday – I love the Avengers. There’s just nothing like being in a movie theater.
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