Where does innovation come from? While this may be a rhetorical question for some, it was precisely the intent of the inaugural CPA Practice Advisor Thought Leader Symposium, which brought together 25 of the most influential tax and accounting professionals, technophiles and consultants for three days of collaboration and dialogue. As the host of the event, CPA Practice Advisor (formerly The CPA Technology Advisor) debuted its new name and print format.
The event, held February 20-22 at the Gaylord Texan resort near Dallas, included exclusive and confidential discussions with some of the largest technology developers in the tax and accounting space. These vendors included Sage, Thomson Reuters and CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, whose senior management and developers shared their visions of the near future for practice technologies, as well as plans for the programs they have in development.
“CPA Practice Advisor is dedicated to helping firms identify and implement the most effective and productive technology and workflow processes, and the Thought Leader Symposium serves as an excellent forum for thought leaders and vendors to explore the present and future needs of professionals,” said Executive Editor Darren Root, CPA.CITP.
A thought leader appreciation dinner was held on the first evening of the Symposium, with each of the invited guests receiving recognition as one of CPA Practice Advisor’s 2011 Top 25 Thought Leaders for their individual achievements and contributions to the profession. In previous years, the dinner has been hosted directly by Gregory L. LaFollette, CPA.CITP during the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. LaFollette worked with CPA Practice Advisor to coordinate the event.
The ceremony was capped off by the announcement of the new CPA Practice Advisor Hall of Fame Awards, which were presented to LaFollette and Randy Johnston. LaFollette is now semi-retired but fills a role as senior manager for tax and technology consulting for Eide Bailly, LLP. During his nearly four decades in the profession, he has founded a successful regional practice, been active in several roles on AICPA committees, served as vice president of product strategy for Thomson Reuters, was the previous executive editor for The CPA Technology Advisor and has spoken and continues to speak at dozens of conferences and tradeshows annually. He has long been regarded as a pioneering force in adapting technology for the profession, including starting the first blog focused on the topic (www.thetechgap.com).
“Being selected as an inaugural inductee to the Tax & Accounting Technology Hall of Fame was definitely a highlight of my entire career,” LaFollette said. “Recognition is always nice, but the recognition of your peers is simply wonderful. I was not at all surprised when Randy Johnston was announced as the year’s first inductee; but I was completely astounded when my name was announced for the other. I am deeply honored to have been selected from such a prestigious group.”
Randy Johnston is the executive vice president for and shareholder in Network Management Group, Inc. and K2 Enterprises, and has devoted more than 35 years to assisting accounting firms and technology developers. He is also a nationally respected speaker on technology issues facing the profession, with a reputation for being able to make complex technology understandable to any person.
“The Thought Leader Symposium was a great opportunity to listen to important publishers in the accounting industry and exchange ideas with many of the movers and shakers in the profession,” said Johnston. “It was an honor, and a surprise, to be inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame. I’ve had so many associates and colleagues that have helped me along the way, I’d like to share the honor with them. Hopefully, my work has helped many people that I have not even met, and that I’m fortunate enough to continue for many years to come.”