Maryland is vaulting straight to the top of the profession.

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, a former chair of the MACPA’s Board of Directors and the global accounting strategy director at Oracle’s Financial Services Industry Group, has been elected vice chair of the American Institute of CPAs’ Board of Directors. She will become the AICPA’s chair a year from now, at the AICPA Governing Council’s 2016 fall meeting.

She will be the first-ever MACPA member to serve as the AICPA’s top volunteer.

One of Ellison-Taylor’s top priorities will be to sharpen the AICPA’s focus on talent development, a critical issue for businesses and the profession alike. Survey after survey shows that finding employees with the right mix of skills is one of the biggest challenges leaders face today.

Accounting and finance organizations aren’t immune; the profession is struggling to close the gap between record numbers of students who are studying accounting in college and falling numbers of candidates who are choosing to take the CPA exam.

It’s a complex problem, but one that mentors and professional advocates might help solve. Ellison-Taylor says a series of mentors — from family, teachers and professors to professional advocates — have fueled her career growth. She wants to pay that mentorship forward, and she wants CPAs everywhere to follow suit.

“If we help young professionals nurture their careers, the entire profession will reap the benefits,” Ellison-Taylor told the crowd at the fall 2015 meeting of the AICPA Governing Council.

Professional growth today depends largely on “the ability to surround yourself with people who will keep you on your path to success,” Ellison-Taylor said, but that isn’t the only factor. She urges young professionals to “pursue your ABCs”:

  • Aptitude, attitude, appearance
  • Boldness, bravery, belief
  • Commitment, compassion, competency

She also urges them to join their state CPA societies. It’s a great way to support and protect the profession, and it can also help further your career. Ellison-Taylor traces her leadership roots back to her early days as a volunteer with the MACPA. That led to positions as the MACPA’s chair and, eventually, to the top of the AICPA’s Board of Directors.

“I am a huge fan of state CPA societies,”  she said. “If you want to advance your CPA career, join your state society.”

I spoke with Kimberly at length during the AICPA’s Council meeting about her priorities and the profession’s upcoming agenda. Here’s what she had to say:

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