Art of Accounting: Lunch with Sid Kess and Chaya Siegfried

Register now

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Sidney Kess and Chaya Siegfried.

Chaya is a specialist in international taxation — both inbound and outbound. Sidney is the grand master of tax training with over 60 years of practicing in this wonderful profession. He is still sharper and more alert than most anyone I know. Chaya is a senior manager at Withum and has about 12 years of professional experience.

It seems that an opportunity opened when Sidney asked me if I could recommend someone who was well versed in the new tax law regarding international taxation. Chaya spoke on this topic at our Withum Partners’ Network Pre-Tax Season CPE in early February, so I suggested her. Through Sidney’s efforts she will be presenting on this topic at the AICPA Sophisticated Tax Planning for Your Wealthy Clients Conference in Washington, D.C., in November. Sidney spent quite a bit of time “vetting” Chaya and was quite impressed with her. He also has her presenting at another conference, and they are busy co-writing an article. I took pride in making the introduction. I know she is good because she is working on a couple of client matters with me and am glad to help her.

When Sidney and Chaya first spoke, he mentioned some questions he had about the new law regarding international taxation. Well, Chaya called him back a couple of days later with responses, and that led to them co-writing the article. She saw an opportunity and seized it. That’s what Sidney and I look for in people we want to mentor: the energy to follow through.

Chaya then organized a lunch with the three of us, and a lot more will be happening. I spent a very enjoyable two hours basically soaking up what Sidney and Chaya had to say. Sidney and I both enjoy helping and mentoring young people, and we both seek out opportunities to do so.

The opportunities aren’t as plentiful as we would like since many young people are too caught up with getting through the day and then trying to spend some quality family time at night. Well, Sidney and I both went through this, as did most accounting firm partners, and somehow we all found a way to juggle our schedules and responsibilities. Chaya has an even greater juggling act since she has five children ages 2 to 11.

Chaya told us she got interested in international taxation when an older mentor told her that she could progress much more quickly and better if she had a specialty and that international taxation would become a growing field with many CPA firms weak in that area. She took his advice and has advanced wonderfully, becoming a key participant in discussions with global clients. She also has become involved with our financial services and hedge fund clients and is a key go-to person for our partners and clients in that space.

She was fortunate that one of her older colleagues took the time to mentor her but also that she was able to recognize the opportunity and follow through with it. Prior to coming to Withum, she was with a similar sized firm as ours who did not value that niche or specialty properly. She saw that and left. Our great gain!

Chaya, as busy as she is, remembers those who have mentored her and pays it forward by mentoring younger staff, particularly those with young children trying to manage their careers while managing their families. That is another trait Sidney and I noticed, and that also makes us eager to assist her. Mentoring is a satisfying endeavor and pays dividends in many forms that are never predictable until they occur. A simple way to look at this is to give to get. If you are a younger staff person, look to find a suitable mentor. If you are able to mentor someone or two, seek the opportunity.

Sidney and I extend an open invitation to anyone who would like to write an article or give a speech. Email me your request along with three possible topics (just the topic without any description or explanation) and your phone number, and I will call you to discuss it and get you going. I have helped more than 150 accountants in this regard, and Sidney has helped a multiple of that number. My email is emendlowitz@withum.com.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Tax reform Trump tax plan International taxes Ed Mendlowitz WithumSmith+Brown AICPA