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Old dog + new tricks… A formula for new opportunities

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September 27, 2010

I recently returned from the Illinois CPA Society conference. I left with a lot of great information, as well as some interesting observations. The most striking observation relates to the accounting profession’s very obvious demographic profile.

A few quick glances around the room and anyone would notice that the profession is dominated by men…many of the Boomer generation. By simple deduction, it’s also obvious that women represent a very small part of the population.

In fact, many conference attendees that I talked to brought up the issues surrounding age and gender in the profession and how both women and older men are finding it difficult to find their place in the larger firm culture.

This brings me to my next big observation. As I talked to people on this very hot topic, I noticed that most focused on the differences between older and female professionals and their issues with finding a “place” in the profession. It occurred to me then that focusing on the similarities might just shed some light on a solution.

As the economy slogs along, many older professionals who fell victim to large firm downsizing are still out of work—despite having years of experience under their belts. Part of the issue may be lack of exposure to technology and the new digital way of doing business.

For women, the issue is not technology, but a desire for true balance between life and work. More and more women are looking for alternatives to a 50-hour, always-in-the-office work week—making them less of a fit for the big firm model as well. So, the issue isn’t specific to age or gender; it’s really an issue with cultural fit. The fact is that both groups have the same desire—to apply their knowledge and perform work they enjoy.

I believe that many women have found an answer…one that they are most willing to share with their male counterparts. Technology has freed many female professionals from the big firm work culture. With SaaS-based applications and services a plenty, women can set up shop at home and build their own firms—complete with the flexibility and balance they desire. They can take on as many or as few clients as they want while making as much money as they would working longer hours at a bigger firm.

Here’s the 411…Boomers can do this, too. It’s a matter of changing your mindset from the big firm culture to being a “solopreneur.” You don’t have to sit in an office 10 hours a day anymore; you can work from anywhere. Just take a quick look at one of the many successful “mompreneurs” out there for a great example of the new business model. It’s a matter of closely examining what these women are doing, learning the technology, leveraging your extensive experience, and reinventing yourself.

I predict that more Boomers will start to follow the model that has already been tested and proven by many female professionals. In fact, with the power of today’s web-based technologies, the mompreneurs and solopreneurs just might end up taking over the accounting world! See, you have more in common than you thought.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. Reach her at jody@matousekconsulting.com.

Comments (3)
I enjoyed this article very much! It is wonderful to know that we women are beginning to have more choices and more control over our own careers. And it is wonderful to have some mentors to study and emulate along the way! Thank you!
Posted by clphil763 | Wednesday, September 29 2010 at 8:31AM ET
Agree completely. As a female CPA of more years that I would like to admit, you have nailed it.
Posted by lindatgill | Wednesday, September 29 2010 at 8:20AM ET
Great post. "Place" or "fitting in" is a growing theme in traditional CPA firms, large or small. Millennial's ask to be treats as humans, not assets. Rock on Sista!!!
Posted by cfarmand | Monday, September 27 2010 at 11:57AM ET
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