Cheri H. Freeh, CPA, CGMA
Principal: Hutchinson, Gillahan & Freeh, P.C.
Educational Background: AAS in Accounting, Northampton Community College; BSBA with Accounting Specialization from Thomas A. Edison State College
Professional Associations/Memberships: PA Institute of CPAs and American Institute of CPAs
Hobbies: Hiking, Biking, Tennis, Home Renovations, Reading.
Click here to see the other honorees of
the 2012 "Most Powerful Women
in Accounting" awards.
Studies show that more women than ever are graduating with accounting degrees, but few are pursuing, or staying in, public practice careers. What do you think may be causing them to think public accounting careers are not as attractive as other careers?
The “Good Old Boys” do still exist in the realm of public accounting. At times it can be difficult to overcome this and, based on my personal experience, it takes more effort to prove yourself.
What advice would you give to these college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?
There really are an incredible number of opportunities in the field if you’re willing to work hard and not be intimidated. As a woman you really must earn your respect from your peers.
If you were asked as a consultant to give advice to firms, would you have any recommendations on things they could do to better retain and advance more qualified female staff?
Women need to be provided with opportunities to prove themselves. This will help build their confidence. Also, encourage opportunities for participation in accounting associations to develop leadership skills. And most of all….give them a chance!
Do you think that there is still a glass ceiling in accounting firm senior management and partner levels, or that the profession has moved to a mostly gender neutral state?
Honestly….I think the glass ceiling still exists. It’s not that it can’t be broken, and many women do make it, it’s just that I think a woman still has to work harder to get through.
Do you think being a woman in the accounting profession has made career advancement more challenging than it might have been for a male in the same situation?
I do feel that I’ve had to work a little harder to prove myself, however, the bottom line is….if you do a good job and prove yourself you can create opportunities.
What solutions have you found successful in managing work-life integration. the balancing of your career with your personal, family and social life?
Organization……You really need to keep your schedule in order and make time for cooking and making Halloween costumes and leading the girl scout troop, taking the family camping, etc.. I’m a planner and I just make sure to make time for everything (and occasionally I give up sleep, it’s highly overrated, lol).
How mobile are you regarding your work? How have mobile devices and apps impacted your productivity and work-life balance? (Spending less time in the office?)
Mobile e-mail and the use of my i-pad and mobile phone have really helped. I can still be productive even when I’m sitting in the dentist’s office waiting for my daughter to be done or on the train going to a meeting. I can also make sure that work doesn’t pile up when I’m out of the office.
What single piece of technology could you absolutely not live without, and why?
I actually break into a cold sweat if I forget my cell phone at home (how sad is that?)
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
I’m not sure you would consider it an app, but I love the fact that the calendar on my phone is synced with the calendar in the office. What a time saver! I also like LinkedIn and Facebook to keep in touch.
What do you like to do when you actually have free time without any obligations to work or family?
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time doing home renovations ( I just moved into a Victorian home that has tons of potential). I’m getting very good at doing drywall, wiring, painting, installing flooring, doing electrical work and much more. I also play tennis at least once a week and I ALWAYS make time for hiking, kayaking and biking.