Jennifer Katrulya, CPA, CITP, CGMA
Additional Certifications: Certified Intacct Services Provider (CISP), Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor
Social Media: Twitter: JenKatrulyaCPA; LinkedIn & Facebook: Jennifer Katrulya
Education Background: BS in Accounting from State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego
Professional Associations/Memberships: AICPA, CT Society of CPAs
Hobbies: Travel, snorkeling, horse shows, tennis, singing, playing piano, kayaking, skiing.
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?
In part I think that this is the fault of the CPA firms when they do not provide young staff with a sense of potential career paths and opportunities. When the options are presented as purely and potentially forever being the “traditional” accounting service path through tax preparation, audit, etc. when firms are not offering flexible work arrangement options, and when they are not adopting technology at the pace that young staff now expect, they will seek opportunities that at least at face value seem to offer more options, more fun, and more diversity vs. going through the “hard labor” years.
I also think that in many firms the starting salaries have not kept pace with what staff at least believe they will be able to earn in private industry or through other channels.
What advice would you give to these college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?
I would suggest that they actually consider a personal project of researching women CPAs and “where they are now” at their 30s, 40s, etc. and also keep current with publications such as CPA Practice Advisor, Journal of Accountancy, etc. so that they can see the different paths thousands of women are choosing every day that are entrepreneurial, technical, creative, and that are giving them leadership roles in companies every day.
This can be inspiring by showing them that “paying their dues” in the early years can lead them to very successful and enjoyable careers in the “traditional” accounting areas, but that they also have endless other opportunities they can explore. I cannot imagine a profession that offers a better path that provides a person with the expertise they can use to excel within this career while having so much freedom to “make it their own.”
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?
- Offer much more clearly defined job descriptions and sample career paths (traditional and non-traditional options)
- Invite new/young staff to participate as part of internal employee advisory boards, giving them the opportunities to be the firm “technology champion” or perhaps assist with marketing, sales, and other areas so that they are helping to inspire potential future partners and also help avoid driving staff away out of boredom and lack of opportunity
- Flexible work opportunities, including fully virtual opportunities, will continue to expand and should be something that firms are at least exploring
- While the cost of benefits has skyrocketed, this is still a critical area for many female employees, especially based on the number of single mothers, etc. This combined with flexible work opportunities still need to be key focus areas for successful retention of top staff.
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?