The accounting profession has been making more concrete efforts in recent years to bolster diversity, particularly among women and younger professionals, in order to ensure the future success and longevity of the field. As older generations retire, a more diverse generation of professionals are being asked to take the reins and transform the profession like never before.
In that spirit, Sarah Krom, 35, was recently elected president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs -- the youngest candidate to ever hold the position, as well as the society's third female president. Krom currently serves as the managing partner at SKC & Co., CPAs in Boonton Township, N.J. She joined the NJCPA in 2003, and in 2011, the society named her one of the “30 Most Influential CPAs Under 30,” as well as a "Woman of Note" in 2012 and 2016. She also previously chaired the Young CPAs Council, now known as the Emerging Leaders Council.
“Her energy and drive are welcomed at the society and by all members alike," said NJCPA CEO and executive director Ralph Albert Thomas in a statement. "We are excited to have her leadership, expertise and commitment on board.”
We recently sat down with Krom to discuss what she's planning in her new role, as well as the importance of adapting to change.
What made you first want to become an accountant?
I started out as an International Business major, thinking I would be a world-wide mover and shaker. When I found out I needed to continue the five years of Spanish that I had in high school in order to get this degree, that dream changed. I knew that I wanted to stay in the business world and have an impact and my feeling was the foundation of all business was accounting. So to me, it made sense to start from the bottom up to build my business knowledge base.
What are your aspirations as the youngest leader of the NJCPA? Are there certain goals you wish to accomplish?
My goals this year really involve closing the gaps – closing the gaps between our solo practitioners and our large firms; closing the gap between the generations; closing the gap geographically in New Jersey. The society has a large membership base in small firms, 4,200 firms as members. We need to support the needs of the small firms and be advocates to help them run their practices. We need to provide opportunities and leadership support to younger generations, while recognizing and harnessing the wisdom and experience of baby boomers and beyond. Think 360-degree mentoring. Eighty percent of NJCPA’s members are north of the Driscoll Bridge [which marks off roughly the northern third of the state], but that doesn’t mean that the other 20 percent of the membership shouldn’t feel as heard and connected as the north Jersey group.
What are some of the more vital issues you see for younger people entering the profession? What are some issues you think should be brought to light?
One of the most important things for the individuals coming into the profession is to be able to adapt. Adapt to change, technology, and most importantly, to be able to learn continually over and over and over. Professional development and process improvements are so important. The profession is evolving, our services are changing and all generations need to work together to innovate and evolve.
On the other side, what are some issues you feel older professionals should understand about younger professionals? Are there any discussions you’d like to start between the two groups?
Shadow, shadow, shadow. If the experienced professionals can mentor and bring their younger peers to client meetings, proposals, board meetings, etc. there would be such a terrific knowledge-sharing that would grow and develop the pipeline in our profession.
The best discussion to have is the one that eliminates judgment and stereotypes across the generations and understands that we are all committed and dedicated professionals with a tremendous amount to contribute to our profession.
What do you hope will change in the profession over the next decade?
I think the profession that we know today will not look anything like this in 10 years. What exactly it will look like is unknown, but the foundation will be based off of relationships. Relationships with clients, colleagues, and other professionals. The human element is going to be much more relevant as we move away from commoditized work into much more consultative advising.
"Accountants to Watch" highlights standout members of the profession who are striving to push accounting forward. If you or someone you know would like to be considered, send a submission to AcToday@sourcemedia.com with the subject line "Accountants to Watch."
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