LISA CINES, CPA
Managing officer and president
Aronson & Co., Rockville, Md.
Number of people you manage or supervise: There are two levels, interaction on the professional side which puts me in direct communication with the firm's 25 partners, and then I have a seven-member senior administrative team.
Number of offices you oversee: 1
Are you a partner? Yes
How long have you been managing partner? 7 years
How long have you been a partner? I was a practice partner for 10 years.
Describe your leadership style: Collaborating with individuals to move the firm forward and to move them forward.
Personal mantra: Never wear your feelings on your sleeve.
Workplace pet peeve: Not adapting to change. For example, introducing a new technology [to the firm] and the knee-jerk reaction is to resist it rather than embrace. I don't like things that hold us back as an organization.
Did you have a mentor? Yes
Are you a mentor? Yes, formally and informally to about a half-dozen to a dozen people in all capacities.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: Men and women make the same mistake: Starting out in their career, they don't look at it as a life-long learning opportunity or a necessity, it's kind of like I'm here and now it's going to take care of itself almost, not understanding the responsibility other than to just to do good. They think just doing well is enough.
Best management tip you're willing to share: As managers, it's our responsibility to bring out the best in each of the individuals that work for us. It's not one-size-fits-all.
Favorite way to de-stress: Reading.
Best advice you've ever received: Don't wear your feelings on your shoulder.
LYNNE DOUGHTIE, CPA
National managing partner, U.S. advisory practice
KPMG LLP, New York
Number of people you manage or supervise: Approximately 15.
Number of offices you oversee: Covers our advisory business in the U.S.
Are you a partner? Yes.
How long have you been a partner? I made partner in 1998 and I started with KPMG right out of school in 1985.
How long have you been in management? When I started in 1985, I started in the audit business with the firm and worked mainly with financial institutions. I was promoted to manager when I was on maternity leave with my first child. I had two new jobs at that time, trying to figure out how to be a manager, which I always tell people I think is one of the hardest transitions in public accounting, and being a new mom. I made manager in 1990.
Describe your leadership style: I think a lot of times you'll take on a new leadership role and you'll get a promotion and you'll think, "Now I need to be somebody different." I think it's really important to stay true to yourself. Peter Cairo co-authored a book called "Head, Heart and Guts: How the World's Best Companies Develop Complete Leaders" and I really tried to think about my leadership style around those three dimensions. Sometimes your head and heart might tell you something else, but your gut says this is in the best interest of our firm and our people.
Personal mantra: Albert Einstein once said that his goal was "not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value." My actions each day are guided not by professional ambition, but my goal is to help create an environment founded on integrity, commitment to helping others, and enabling each other to be their best.
Workplace pet peeve: Lengthy e-mail messages. Sometimes picking up the phone and holding a discussion is more productive than trying to capture everything in an email.
Did you have a mentor? I did. I had an audit partner, a man, who was my mentor the whole time. The thing that he taught me the most, he wasn't the most popular partner, he drove his people really hard, but really what stuck out for me was just watching him and how good he was with clients and the importance he put on client relationships.
Are you a mentor? I am a mentor. I mentor formally about five people and sometimes I get asked to mentor more. I say, "I really want to help you," but I usually try to find them someone else who can spend more time, because if you don't make it meaningful, it's not going to be beneficial.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: Sometimes I think that women particularly -- and I think this is happens quite a bit in public accounting -- will give up before they really think through what all the possibilities are for a career in public accounting. There are so many options today around flexible schedules. You can make it what you want it to be.
Best management tip you're willing to share: I would say being flexible with your career goals. I'm really big on setting out career objectives, long-term plans and having this view of what success is for one's personal life and career, but you've got to be flexible to know that things are going to happen along the way. There may be times you may need to re-invent yourself depending on what is going on in the marketplace. Flexibility is huge.
Favorite way to de-stress: For me it's really using the weekend to recharge. I do work a lot of hours and travel extensively and when I get back on the weekends, I really try to take at least one of those days to focus on something other than what I'm doing at work.
Best advice you've ever received: There are times where you need to take risks, so the advice that I received at the point in time where I had to retool and make a change was really great advice for me and I always appreciated it because sometimes you need to hear it from somebody else.
LISA KNEE, CPA
Tax partner Berdon LLP, New YorkNumber of people you manage or supervise: Depending on the engagement I was working on, it can be upwards to 20 people or one person.
Number of offices you oversee: None.
Are you a partner? Yes
How long have you been a partner? 2 years.
How long have you been in management at your firm? Approximately 10 years.
Describe your leadership style: I lead by example. I would never expect anything from someone that I wasn't willing to do myself. I'm not going to make somebody work the hours if I'm not willing to do it.
Personal mantra: Be accountable.
Workplace pet peeve: I cannot stand when people do not take ownership. I like when people are accountable for their actions. Did you have a mentor? I had mentors for different reasons. I saw that there were a lot of good people in the firm who I could tap into for their best traits — their technical abilities, their way of thinking, the way they work with clients. I tried to incorporate what I saw as the best in them into my own persona.
Are you a mentor? Because there were few women in the firm when I joined 15 years ago, I’ve sort of set the model by example rather than being a mentor. I’ve shown others that you can reach for the top. There were very few women before me who were able to do what I was able to do, having a family, a career, and going to law school.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: I think that we get involved in a lot of little things, the small stuff. Men go straight and women look around and we sort of veer off course. Don't sweat the small stuff. Know your target and keep going.
Best management tip you're willing to share: Don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and help out your team. Try to remember you were in their shoes once.
Favorite way to de-stress: I like shopping. I like manicures and pedicures. I like shoes and pocketbooks. I wish I could say I run a million miles, but it's not me.
Best advice you've ever received: Someone once told me that I could not have it all and I wanted to prove that person so wrong. I wanted the family, the career and the house and all those things.
MICHELLE MCDUFFIE, CPA
Haskell & White LLP, Irvine, Calif.
Number of people you manage or supervise: Approximately 20 Number of offices you oversee: Part of the executive management team at our corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif.How long have you been in management at your firm? 10 years.
Describe your leadership style: I've found that being flexible and team-oriented is the key. I expect a lot out of the staff, and set the tone by setting high, yet realistic expectations and goals, and then praise and reward the staff when goals are reached and projects are completed.
Personal mantra: Cherish each moment and enjoy the journey.
Workplace pet peeve: I'm a stickler for follow-through, and expect our staff to execute all projects thoroughly.
Did you have a mentor? My father was a great mentor for me. He was a successful banker and businessman. He counseled and guided me throughout my career and still does to this day.
Are you a mentor? Yes. I am a professional development counselor to three managers. This is part of my career that I really enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction from.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: Neglecting to plan ahead for life and career changes. Each decision made early in a career affects the next, and it is very important to think ahead about some of the possible twists and turns that life may throw at you.
Best management tip you're willing to share: Being a good listener is essential. It's crucial to listen to people in order to understand their challenges and successes. A good manager that listens to their staff is better at identifying their needs, helping achieve goals and empowering each team member to work at their fullest potential.
Favorite way to de-stress: I love to spend time by the pool at home with my husband and five children.
Best advice you've ever received: When you no longer feel challenged, you have stopped growing.
Chief human resources officer
RSM McGladrey, Bloomington, Minn.
Number of people you manage or supervise: 75
Number of offices you oversee: McGladrey overall has 120 offices.
Are you a partner? Yes.
How long have you been a partner? Since 1998. Became CHRO in 2007.
How long have you been in management at your firm? In 2001, I was a tax partner and moved to Bloomington to take a national role responsible for strategy in the tax practice. I had that job for not quite five years and then moved into another management job where I had that same responsibility one layer up, for our consulting, retirement and wealth-management practices.
Describe your leadership style: Pretty direct. If I looked back and said why have I been able to be successful in management, it's because I'm not conflict-avoidant. At the same time it's not about, "Let me slap you in the face," it's about I'm just willing to have tough conversations with people not in a confrontational way, but in a "How are we actually going to get to the heart of this matter?" way.
Personal mantra: No drama.
Workplace pet peeve: Drama. The drama piece is always about any kind of triangle where it's two people that have a conflict but they are not willing to talk to each other about it. They are going to get somebody else involved. I have almost no tolerance for that.
Did you have a mentor? I had a ton of mentors.
Are you a mentor? Yes. Historically, and usually it's across reporting lines, generations, departments and offices. We've had many different formal mentoring programs, but way outnumbering that would be all the informal mentoring relationships.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: The young women coming into the profession now are convinced they can do anything. It is incomprehensible to them that they are not as qualified, capable and will receive every advantage as any man in the practice. I don't think they're going to make some of the historic mistakes some women made in the practice, which was exhibiting some more traditional female traits: sitting back, not getting into the fray, taking the notes in the meeting because you have the best handwriting. These are innocuous little things, but do some reinforcing of old stereotypes.
Best management tip you're willing to share: Don't avoid the conflict. The other one, for me personally, has been to figure out how not to be defensive. Before I get defensive, upset or emotional about something I'm going to ask three more questions. About 80 percent of the time when you ask the questions you figure out there is really nothing to be defensive about. I can't tell you how many times that has made a difference, because, frankly, as a woman in business, in senior executive levels, passion for the business or passion for anything will be stereotyped as emotion.
Favorite way to de-stress: Spending time with family. I have four kids. Bike rides and walks are great. I also have a scrapbook and find it therapeutic. I'm also a voracious reader.
Best advice you've ever received: The best was to probably take a little longer view of my career. When I got my advice I was in the throes of having my kids and they were young and life was stressful. There was a very senior partner who just said, "You know what, we'll work through this, you have a lot of career in front of you, and this is really stressful right now but let's figure out how to make it work over these next couple of years." It was unexpected, I did not expect to get that advice or hear that recognition on his part and that was 20 years ago.
KAREN NORTHUP, CPA
Founder and CEO, Corefino, Sunnyvale, Calif.
Number of people you manage or supervise: 6
Number of offices you oversee: We have a corporate office in California with employees scattered around the country and the world in a virtual office environment. The company also has a location in India with 30 employees.
Are you a partner? N/A
How long have you been a partner? N/A
How long have you been in management at your firm? Established the company in 2004.
Describe your leadership style: I'm data-driven. We make decisions based on data because I believe data tells the story. It's also one of the founding principals of the company. We have a work hard-play hard company. I hire smarter people than me and it's definitely a team-building consensus management style.
Personal mantra: Work hard, play hard.
Workplace pet peeve: The same one I have at home -- when people leave dishes in the sink. I'm fine with stuff all over the counter, but in the sink, I draw the line there.
Did you have a mentor? I've had several. Over my career I've had, based on what my role was, several different mentors that I talk to about specific issues and challenges.
Are you a mentor? I am. I have several CEOs that I'm helping. There are also several employees here that I spend a fair amount of time coaching.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: I think instinct. If I had an instinct about something I was usually right and I think women don't listen to it. We have women's intuition. I tell people if you have a gut or strong feeling about something, especially if it pertains to you, it's probably a good idea to listen.
Best management tip you're willing to share: Listen. Listen to your employees, customers and partners, and have a very open mind. There's something you can learn from every interaction.
Favorite way to de-stress: Exercise. I run, do boot camps, surf, volleyball and bike. I have a pretty large extracurricular schedule.
Best advice you've ever received: It's got to be believe in myself. What we've done at our company was an uphill battle for several reasons, and it was not an easy path to get to where we are. People were saying, "Stick with it, believe your vision," and there were several reasons to quit and to throw in the towel. I didn't and I've persevered.
CATHERINE M. PARENTE, CPA/ABV, CVA
Partner-in-charge, Providence, R.I., office and partner-in-charge, Consulting Services Department; member, CCR Executive Committee
Carlin, Charron & Rosen.
Number of people you manage or supervise: I wear several hats in the firm. It comes out to be about 20 people in Rhode Island office and about 30 people in the consulting group.
Number of offices you oversee: Providence, R.I., office; I sit on the firm's executive committee governance body, which oversees the entire firm and our four offices.
Are you a partner? Yes
How long have you been a partner? Technically for 30 years. I've been a partner since 1987, but we changed names at one point and we merged into CCR at another point. I've remained an equity partner throughout.
How long have you been in management at your firm? I went up the traditional path, from entry level up, so I was a manager before I became a partner.
Describe your leadership style: I think my style is consensus building. I try to build teams, get people to work together and it's not always easy to do. Sometimes you need a different style to say, 'This is the way it's going to be. I made a decision and we're going with it, whether you like it or not,' but it's not what I like to do.
Personal mantra: I work hard and I play hard.
Workplace pet peeve: We have a very collegial office here and part of that is because it's a smaller office. It's almost like family. It's a fun place to come and I think there is enough other people in the office that have pet peeves that if somebody doesn't clean the dishes and leaves them in the sink, they jump on someone's case before I need to.
Did you have a mentor? Not formally. Today I think there's a lot more focus on mentoring and formal processes. I was with a smaller firm so it was more of an informal process, but I guess I would say one or two of the other partners probably effectively served as my mentor.
Are you a mentor? Yes, I have been throughout.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: Women tend to gravitate to women's organizations, women's networking events, and I think that's good, but sometimes they do that to the exclusion of other organizations that are all-inclusive Ð male and female. I think they are cutting out a big part of the population where they will, down the road, develop business, clients, relationships and networks that they will really truly need.
Best management tip you're willing to share: The ability to stay on top of things, to stay organized and in control, because at my level there are a lot of things going on. The ultimate people are the clients, but obviously I'm managing staff and people and all the relationships just to make sure things don't slip through the cracks.
Favorite way to de-stress: I'm an avid golfer. Years ago golf would have stressed me, but now it's actually relaxation.
Best advice you've ever received: You have to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes when you're young in your career and you are somewhat aggressive and you want to battle about everything, you realize there is nothing to be gained. If there's nothing positive to be gained by something, only negative, why take that action?
BETH SALVATI, CPA
HLB Gross Collins PC, Atlanta
Number of people you manage or supervise: 10
Number of offices you oversee: 1
Are you a partner? Chief executive officer.
How long have you been a partner? Approximately eight years.
How long have you been in management at your firm? I made partner back in 1994; prior to that I was a tax manager as well as a supervisor. I've been in management since 1988.
Describe your leadership style: Laid back and I delegate a lot. I definitely don't micromanage, so I'm explaining the big picture. I'm explaining the results that I want. I'm more of a consensus-builder because I am less of a dictator, less of a "let's vote and move on." It may take us a little longer to come to a conclusion, but when we have a conclusion everybody has bought into it.
Personal mantra: Do your best and things will come your way and always give back to the community. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that were given to me, so my mantra is to try to let everybody have the same opportunities.
Workplace pet peeve: None.
Did you have a mentor? No, not really.
Are you a mentor? I feel like I am a mentor today to some of the younger women at the firm. It's more informal.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: I don't think women make a lot of mistakes when they are first starting out; I think it's as they are progressing. Either they assume the company will not be flexible with their family situation or work life-balance so they tend to not bring to the table what they are able to do and what they are not able to do and move to another position, rather than trying to work through it. Women need to be upfront and be positive about their value to the company.
Best management tip you're willing to share: No matter who works for you is watching you, so behave the way you want them to behave versus what you say. You need to model the behavior you want from your employees.
Favorite way to de-stress: Go home and play with my [young] children.
Best advice you've ever received: Don't take it personally, because in business, sometimes it's just business and if you take it personally it does not allow you to be effective. You just have to move on.
BILLIE WILLIAMSON, CPA
America's Inclusiveness Officer
Ernst & Young
Number of people you manage or supervise: E&Y works in teams. I have my inclusiveness team, and it has about 20 people; and then I have two client teams.
Number of offices you oversee: N/A
Are you a partner? Yes.
How long have you been a partner? Since 1984.
How long have you been in management at your firm? Since 1977.
Describe your leadership style: I think I do a good job of listening. I want to take input, but I'm not hesitant at all to make a decision. Once I have listened and researched the situation and seen a good percentage of the facts, I'm willing to go ahead and make a decision and act on that decision. I'm collaborative in my style. I value the input of the people who work with me. I can get people to follow me because I'm passionate about the topic.
Personal mantra: I try to treat other people the way I'd like to be treated. That goes for my clients, for the people who work with me and for every level of person at E&Y. It's very important to me.
Workplace pet peeve: People talking too loudly on their cell phones.
Did you have a mentor? Absolutely, I've had several mentors. I think you need more than one as you go through.
Are you a mentor? I would like to think so. I believe that I am, I have individuals that I have been working with over a period of time. I very much have appreciated the people who have mentored me and I really think it's a very important responsibility for me to turn around and do the same thing.
Biggest mistake women make when first starting out: I don't think we understand how important it is to build relationships in every aspect of our business life. It was very obvious to me that I needed to build relationships with my clients, but I wish I had done a better job of building relationships with my peers, with those to whom I reported.
Best management tip you're willing to share: I think the most important management tip is to learn how to listen and to really focus on what people are telling you and then be able to make sure they understand you heard them. You may not actually act on everything they say to you. But I think it's important that people understand you have heard them.
Favorite way to de-stress: Spending time with my family.
Best advice you've ever received: I will never forget this: It was the top boss, he was my office managing partner, he told me you needed to make your friends before you needed them.
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