Colleen Cunningham, who transitioned from an early career in public accounting to become chief accountant at AT&T and eventually, the head of Financial Executives International, will step down as chief executive of the 15,000-member group headquartered in Florham Park, N.J.

"The expectation is that three to five years is about the right amount of time for this position, and I've been here three and a half," said Cunningham, who assumed the president and chief executive posts at FEI in March 2003. She will remain during the organization's search for her successor. "I love the job and FEI's a fabulous organization, but it's time to move on to something else," she told WebCPA.

The organization is comprised of senior-level financial executives including chief financial officers and controllers.

Cunningham began her career as an auditor at both Touche Ross and Coopers & Lybrand, the predecessor firms to Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers, respectively.

She then spent 13 years as assistant controller at AT&T Capital and later as vice president and chief accountant at AT&T corporate.

Prior to heading FEI, Cunningham served as senior vice president and chief financial officer, North America, for Havas Advertising, where she was responsible for financial operations worldwide accounting policies, as well as establishing and staffing the company's North American headquarters.

Cunningham has also been a multiple-time member of Accounting Today's Top 100 Most Influential People roster.

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