The Top 100 People: Personal accomplishments

Apparently, leading the accounting profession still leaves the members of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People time to pursue other activities and other goals

As part of this year’s Top 100 Most Influential People survey, Accounting Today asked, “Do you have a major personal accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of?”

Some of the personal achievements they shared are listed below, from pursuing diversity and following their hearts, to running lots of racing, hitting the game-winning run, and even playing second base for the Dodgers.

(To see the full responses of all the candidates for the Top 100, click here.)

Two years ago, I co-founded the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion. This initiative was founded with the goal of rallying the business community together to take action in advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, because people deserve to feel safe and accepted at work, and they are most capable of reaching their full potential when they do.

Today I’m proud to say that we have over 700 CEOs and presidents of America’s leading businesses, academic institutions and nonprofits representing more than 14 million employees, who have signed on to take the pledge to:
● Continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex conversations about diversity and inclusion;
● Implement and expand their unconscious bias education;
● Share best practices; and,
● Create and share strategic diversity and inclusion plans with their boards of directors.

— Tim Ryan, U.S. Chair and Senior Partner, PwC US
I came from a very blue-collar family. I am the first college graduate in my family. I worked up to nine different jobs in one year to try to get through school. I worked full-time while going to school full-time. I wasn’t the best college student, couldn’t get an internship through the school and ended up getting one on my own through one of my part-time jobs.

In 2017 my alma mater awarded me the Dr. Joseph R. Coppola ’40 Outstanding Alumnus Award, not based on my academic accomplishments, but on my professional accomplishments. Knowing my struggles through school, it was incredibly gratifying.

— Mark Koziel, EVP of Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
Whitehouse-Geni-Even a Nerd Can Be Heard 2018
I am proud of myself for walking away from a CPA firm as partner — after 15 years of feeling like a misfit, I finally found the courage to not only listen to my own heart, but to walk away from the path that I had been on my whole life to that point. I left with no real idea about what came next, but knowing that I was meant to do more.

Since then (1995), it has been an adventure of the best kind, filled with opportunities beyond my wildest dreams and encounters with so many amazing, talented and inspiring people. It drives me to help others who are facing the same struggles.

— Geni Whitehouse, Countess of Communication, Brotemarkle, Davis & Co. LLP, Even a Nerd Can be Heard, Solve Services 2018
I am extremely proud of having served for two years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, in Tanzania. A truly defining experience in my life that provided me great perspective, inspiration, and has helped me immensely both personally and professionally.

— Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO,
Berson-Wayne-BDO USA
I’m particularly proud to have completed nine marathons across Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. The strategic training and goal-setting I’ve adapted for long-distance running have also helped me greatly in my career.

Building the foundation for BDO’s growth during my time as CEO has very much been like running a marathon. You have to establish your long-term vision and goals and focus every day on the essential aspects of your strategy to get there.

— Wayne Berson, CEO, BDO USA
Powerful Accounting founder Dawn Broline
I was a member of the 1990 Women’s Fastpitch National Championship Team at Eastern Connecticut State University. I also scored the winning run in the final game!

— Dawn Brolin, EVP of Business Development and Compliance, Powerful Accounting powered by Out of the Box Technology
Aquila-August-Aquila Advisors NEW 2019
In 1985, I was the first marketing director in the accounting profession that was made an equity owner in a Top 100 accounting firm. I started offering annual marketing directors’ conferences prior to the establishment of Association for Accounting Marketing.

— August Aquila, CEO, Aquila Global Advisors
Yes! I ran my third full marathon on April 27, 2019, and finally broke five hours, running it in 4:40, blowing my best time of 5:04 away. I trained all winter in Nebraska and while traveling, running in snow, on ice and in polar vortex temps — only running on the treadmill twice leading up to the race. Because I trained in ungodly conditions, I was ready!

— Jennifer Wilson, Co-Founder and Partner, ConvergenceCoaching
When I was five years old, my career ambition was to play second base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Undeterred by all the reasons I should not be able to accomplish that — my gender, where I grew up, my complete and utter lack of physical prowess — at 19, I played second base at Dodger Stadium. My dream realized was a little different than I originally imagined, but the life lessons — of passion, perseverance and the value of dreaming big — drive me as an individual and a leader.

— Clar Rosso, EVP, Engagement and Learning Innovation, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
Being there for my family. Those that know me know that I travel over 200,000 miles a year, but they also know the “greatness” of O’Hare Airport. Because I’m based in Chicago and able to fly nonstop to essentially any city in the county, I’m able to take advantage of many 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. flights and only spend 75 nights in hotel rooms each year. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of sleep and an occasional workout, you can have a great professional career and family life.

— Allan Koltin, CEO, Koltin Consulting Group
Kless-Ed-Sage 2018
I taught myself how to bang out chords on a piano from a lead sheet. In addition to being fun at parties, I learned to appreciate music from a different perspective.

— Ed Kless, Senior Director, Partner Development and Strategy, Sage
Kepczyk-Roman-Xcentric 2018
The SuperFrog Ironman 70.3 [early in the fall] was a significant personal challenge, as it was a dual ocean swim through surf/waves and half the run was on the sand with 24 trudges through deep beach sand! Tougher than most of my other triathlons as I had to prepare during my busiest work season and train in worst of the Arizona heat.

— Roman Kepczyk, Director of Firm Technology Strategy, Right Networks
McGinnis-Jim-Wolters Kluwer
For the past four years, I’ve had the distinct honor of leading groups of 10-year-old Cub Scouts as their den leader. We teach them to hook a fish, start a fire with flint and steel, pitch a tent, and figure out how to get home by looking at the stars. Also, and perhaps more importantly, we teach them resilience, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

— Jim McGinnis, EVP and General Manager, Professional Segment, Tax & Accounting North America, Wolters Kluwer
I would say that publishing my first book was an accomplishment that I was especially proud of. Being able to have an idea, build it out, and construct a narrative to explain it clearly is something that was very difficult, and something that I was very proud of being able to do.

— Sean Stein Smith, Assistant Professor, City University of New York, Lehman College
Peterson-Scott-Avalara 2018
Organizing the Streamlined Sales Tax. I held leadership roles throughout the many years it took to develop and implement the concepts currently expressed in the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. I then became its first employee and for seven years was responsible for creating all the employment and organizational requirements.

— Scott Peterson, Vice President of U.S. Tax Policy and Government Relations, Avalara Inc.
Shapiro-Todd-Illinois CPA Society
Skiing a double black diamond run through the trees is something that I never thought possible, and now I do it all the time.

— Todd Shapiro, President and CEO, Illinois CPA Society
Rushton-Charlotte-Thomson Reuters
I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion and, in particular, elevating the careers of underrepresented groups. I’m a strong advocate for our diversity initiatives in Thomson Reuters and have personally sponsored numerous women, taking an active role in advancing their careers. We all have unconscious biases which affect the way we think about and value the contributions of all our diverse colleagues, and I fiercely believe that it’s only by surfacing these biases and highlighting them and discussing them that we can make progress.

I’m particularly proud of a program I launched promoting women’s leadership in the law, while I worked in our Thomson Reuters Legal business unit, and I’m working to leverage something similar in our Tax & Accounting Professionals business unit.

— Charlotte Rushton, President, Tax & Accounting Professionals, Thomson Reuters
Zarret-Scott-CPA Academy
I’ve always been an avid mountain biker and enjoyed long-distance races and extensive bike-camping trips. In 1999 I rode my mountain bike from Canada to Mexico on the Continental Divide trail on a self-supported group ride.

That trip was life-changing for me, for [a number of reasons, including] the importance of physical and mental challenge. I started to see things through different eyes, made a decision to move, and began to consider how my career in accounting could or should look differently and more in line with my true passions. This led me on the road to where I am today, as a founder of this company.

— Scott Zarret, President,