Q&A: KyCPA President Elizabeth Woodward
Issue 3, 2019
July 22, 2019
What inspired you to become a CPA?
Educators take heed. My undergraduate degree is in philosophy. I intended to apply to law school, but sometime during my senior year I decided that I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I got a job upon graduation and worked my way up to a staff position in an accounting department. I enrolled in the University of Kentucky MBA program, intending to concentrate in accounting and become a controller in a manufacturing facility. I took an individual income tax class, primarily to help me file my personal tax return. The class professor suggested, “Why don’t you become a CPA? Work in public accounting for a few years to get certified, and then go to work in industry.” I listened to the first part, but not the second. I like public accounting too much to leave!
What is a significant issue facing the CPA profession as a whole?
Change. Most CPAs don’t like change; it’s a personality trait we share. When I started my career, I looked at partners with 20 or 30 years of experience and thought “That’s what I want to do one day.” I don’t think anyone in our profession is doing today what they will be doing in 20 years. We don’t know what will need to be done, or how, in 20 years.
What are your goals for the coming year?
As our profession faces the future, small and medium size firms are at risk of not being able to anticipate and adapt to change. KyCPA and the AICPA are extremely proactive in protecting these professionals. Our profession is one founded in the principle of self-governance. We need to move together to protect the public interest. The term “CPA” should always remind us of our obligation to protect and serve the public.
What is a significant issue facing Kentucky CPAs?
The legislative issues debated in Frankfort all seem to involve fiscal policy and responsibility. Through our educational and professional knowledge, I think we have an obligation to help inform the dialogue.
What advice do you have for young people considering a career in accounting?
Pay attention to whether you actually like the debits and credits, and the order of things. There is a huge variety of jobs in accounting – do you want to wear a suit, jeans, or a uniform? You can find a job in accounting to match that desire. Do you want to travel or be home every day at a certain time? These are details that can be worked out. Twenty five years in, I still love to do a T account on paper and I organize my personal tax files with columnar paper. Don’t worry if you don’t catch those references – the idea is I love the theory and the organization of accounting. My husband might say the same approach does not apply to my closets.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your free time?
My children tell me that I’m a nerd. I like to binge-watch Netflix (currently on the second round of Grey’s Anatomy) and knit or needlepoint. I enjoy walking, and yoga (although I’m not very good). My husband and I recently discovered pickleball – it makes me happy to just say that word. I am intentional about scheduling time to spend with friends. I belong to a book club of people way smarter than me, which insures that I read one fiction book a month.