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Are You Next? Honoring CalCPA's Past & Future Leaders.

There are likely as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders. Forward-looking, inspirational, empathetic, knowledgeable, decisive and accountable are just a few concepts that have been tied to being a leader. At CalCPA, we have numerous leaders amongst our 45,000 members--some would even say we have 45,000 leaders. Over the past 14 years the Leadership Institute has graduated 304 freshly trained leaders, Our financial literacy efforts has included 1,355 volunteers. Fostering future accounting leaders created 44 Campus Ambassadors this past school year. And member leaders serve at various levels, from chapter committee chairs to state committee chairs to chapter presidents to CalCPA Board and Council to Education Foundation Board.

What follows are thoughts from some of our member leaders on leadership, what it means to lead and the benefits of being a leader within CalCPA. May their words inspire you to be one of CalCPA's next leaders.

MEMBER LEADERS

VIOLETA D. CRISTOBAL

Education Foundation Board of Trustees Managing Partner and Founder, Cristobal & Company, CPAs

What does a leader mean to you?

Being the eldest in the family of 11, it was natural for me to be the leader of my 10 siblings. At a young age, my parents always reminded me that, being the eldest, I'm the example. Both my parents died at an early age, I assumed the role of shaping the lives of my siblings, ensuring each one pursues their education and prepare for the future. It entailed a great deal of sacrifice. But with determination and setting an example, I gained their trust leading them to pursue essential education. I showed them studying in college, while working at the same time, is possible. When one completes an education, the lead is passed to the next sibling, and so on. To me, leadership also is to encourage the next generation to learn to be leaders in our profession, as well as in the community.

A leader builds trust, accountability and responsibility to inspire others, to bring our vision and aspirations to others to the benefit of everyone--it's about working and encouraging people.

What are your major takeaways from your CalCPA experience?

I was invited to attend CalCPA Leadership Institute where Bill Reeb, our instructor, and the other leaders in that class helped me make my big decision to start my own CPA firm.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

Leadership is a privilege. When we get involved, we become part of something greater than ourselves. We establish relationships with others who share the same vision and goals and thereby lead to the betterment of the profession.

CHARLES OSAKI

Past CalCPA Education Foundation President Adjunct Faculty, Cerritos College

What does being a leader mean to you?

It means being willing to make a decision with the intent that the outcome is best for group (i.e., team, constituents, community, etc.) and being accountable for that decision. To lead others, you have to care about them. Also, being a leader is about getting the best out of what other people have to offer, whether tangible or talent, for the group to be successful. In the end, leaders create benefit for others.

Why did you decide to get involved in CalCPA leadership?

CalCPA is the organization that supports and advances the CPA profession in California, so taking the opportunity to serve in a leadership role was a no-brainer. During the early 2000s, the CalCPA Accounting Education & Careers Committee was addressing several critical issues related to accounting students and future CPA candidates: substantial equivalency and portability related to the CA 150-hour rule, the changing needs of practice and alignment with college curriculum, Ph.D. shortages, and contemplated changes to the Uniform CPA Exam. These issues were not only relevant to my professional role, but to our profession--for years to come. I was excited about leading a committee (with co-chairs Valerie Milliron and Chrislynn Freed during two terms) of people that would discuss and address these issues. That experience served me well for my future roles, including president of the CalCPA Education Foundation.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

I'm impressed by the commitment to servant leadership of the board members and other volunteers I interact with, as well as the level of excitement and motivation each person demonstrates in taking on issues--some of which are critical to the long-term success of our profession.

I often observe the leadership communication styles of past and present leaders and incorporate the facets of their style that I feel will make me more effective. Also, I've been enlightened by our activities in advocacy/government relations and how critical (and insightful) it is to CPAs and other professionals--this is unique to CalCPA. One thing is certain: Every volunteer leader I have met is highly motivated to advance our profession. I firmly believe that my leadership roles have brought more fulfillment to my professional and personal life.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

Being involved in CalCPA leadership is an opportunity to advance your leadership skillset, interact with diverse and talented people, promote our profession, and enhance your personal and professional network.

JOLENE N. FRASER

First Vice Chair, CalCPA Board of Directors Managing Director, EisnerAmper LLP

What does being a leader mean to you?

A great leader is someone who builds confidence and empowers others to reach their highest potential. I strive to be a leader who leads by example and provides opportunities for others to reach their goals ... and then steps out of the way to let others shine.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

The most essential takeaways I've gleaned from my leadership experience is the endless support from fellow members and the ability to effect change in the CPA profession with the collaboration of other CalCPA leaders. Through my leadership experience, I've been encouraged and supported by so many CalCPA colleagues on my path to leadership.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

I've gained an amazing network of colleagues and been provided incredible leadership opportunities that have been instrumental in both my personal and professional growth. I would encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership for the countless opportunities to build self-confidence, effect change and gain access to a network of remarkable colleagues and leaders in the CPA profession.

JENNIFER E. ZIEGLER

Past CalCPA Chair Managing Director, Berkeley Research Groupx

Why did you decide to get involved in CalCPA leadership?

I believe CalCPA is the advocate and watchdog for California CPAs. I witnessed all the great changes individuals accomplished and I wanted to be a part of that movement. I wanted to be part of the volunteer group because I believe in protecting and enhancing our profession.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

I learned how quickly time flies when trying to effect change and how one change, regardless how small, can have a huge, long-term impart. Change is important. Without change our profession will become less relevant.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

I learned so much about myself through leadership and gained some lifelong friends along the way.

OKORIE L. RAMSEY

Past Education Foundation President Vice President of Sarbanes/Oxley, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals

What does being a leader mean to you?

In many ways leadership is hard to define and it means different things to different people, but I believe people would universally agree that you know it when you see it. For me, leadership is about inspiring a vision and a sense of purpose that motivates others to join you. Leadership is about listening and helping others to achieve goals that they never thought were possible or could be achieve.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

My most prized takeaway is the relationships built in CalCPA leadership. Serving as president for the CalCPA Education Foundation Board of Trustees provided the unique opportunity to engage with CalCPA leaders, the Education Foundation trustees and CalCPA's amazing executive team and staff. I have built long-standing relationships and friendships through board service that have and will remain beyond my time on the board.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

As a CPA, I think it's an honor and a responsibility to give back to our profession. I would encourage others to get involved in leadership because they won't believe the profound impact that giving their time and talent to advance our profession will have on their personal and professional lives. If you really want to stand out, take on a leadership role in CalCPA or some way support our profession or the greater good. You will be amazed at the impact that your leadership can have.

EDUARDO L. JORDAN

Past CalCPA Chair Principal, E. L. Jordan, CPA and CGMA

What does being a leader mean to you?

It means providing guidance and council to future leaders. It means encouraging members to get into leadership positions, like past leaders did for us.

Why did you decide to get involved in CalCPA leadership?

I believe you get what you put in. Additionally, it was a wonderful opportunity to grow personally and expand my horizons.

SCOTT D. HOPPE

First Vice President, Education Foundation Board of Trustees, Founder, Creating Blu

Why did you decide to get involved in CalCPA leadership?

What got me to get involved with the Education Foundation board was my curiosity about what was being discussed behind the scenes and how it was impacting me as a professional. I wanted to help shape the future of the profession, for the better.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

When I joined the board I had one non-negotiable item that would dictate if I would stay: whether people listened and respected each other's opinions, even if they didn't share in it. They did and I stayed. Overall, everyone on the board cares passionately about the profession and respects each other. What keeps me going now is the buzz we have in the room about the future of the Education Foundation & CalCPA.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

Leadership has everyone, at some point, do something new. It forced me to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I was most recently the treasurer on the CalCPA Education Foundation board, where I was allowed to share a little bit about what was going through my mind. I thought, "I'm not up to this. I'm going to go in front of the board and these real CPAs are going to eat me alive." Instead of crashing and burning, last year turned into one of the most exciting years I had on the board. We went into uncharted territories on our budget and I watched the conversation gain a whole new energy. I feel like I'm ready for anything after that year. Getting involved in leadership will mean you grow as a person.

It also gets your head out of the sand. That is, it gives you a sense of the profession and it's magnitude. It showed me there are amazing professionals--not just in the Big Four where I started, but all over the state. Being involved in leadership gives you the chance to grow your network and keep your pulse on the industry.

KATHY A. JOHNSON

Past CalCPA Chair Owner, CPA Forensics Plus, Inc.

What does being a leader mean to you?

It means taking control of my future versus waiting for others to shape it. It means facing the uncomfortable to achieve the sometimes perceived impossible. It means gaining a level of self confidence that helps me to feel good about my work--and my interactions with colleagues.

Why did you decide to get involved in CalCPA leadership?

I wanted to be a part of shaping our organization, to lake advantage of opportunities for continual learning, to help achieve diversification and inclusion in our industry, to increase interactions with CPAs with some of the same goals and aspirations as I have, and to support others.

What were your major takeaways from your CalCPA leadership experience?

I've grown both personally and professionally. I believe that I have become a better leader, challenged myself far beyond what I had previously imagined, become better at networking and have given myself the opportunity to influence others who share my dreams. Leadership has enabled me to take advantage of professional opportunities and gain an increased level of confidence about myself and my work.

Why encourage other CPAs to get involved in leadership?

For personal and professional growth. To increase your network of professionals and to help to shape the future of our profession. Change is happening at an ever-increasing speed, and we want to stay vigilant and not be passive. Getting involved in leadership gives you an opportunity to share your experience and expertise with others while at the same time benefiting from the wealth of knowledge and expertise of other CPAs.
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Publication:California CPA
Date:Aug 1, 2019
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