Mary Ann Travers, ASA - 2013 Most Powerful Women in Accounting

Mary Ann Travers, ASA

Crowe Horwath LLP
Oak Brook, IL

Education: BA Economics, University of Chicago
Professional Associations: American Society of Appraisers, Business Valuation Assocation
Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, reading, cooking, traveling.

Click here to see the other honorees
of the 2013 "Most Powerful Women
in Accounting" awards.


What advice would you give to female college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?

In today’s fast-paced environment, with ever-changing rules/regulations, and the need for objective, value-added professional accounting and consulting services, the possibilities are limitless for women in the profession. Find your passion, focus your efforts on an area of special interest and hone your skills. Never stop learning and growing and remember that relationship building is key to long-term success – not just in selling work but also in building teams, finding mentors and helping others grow.

What advice would you give accounting firms on things they could do to better retain and advance more qualified female staff?

At Crowe Horwath LLP, we continue to build our sustainability model by promoting diversity and inclusion, a collaborative workforce and targeted skill-building for all colleagues. We offer a focused women’s program, Women Leading @Crowe, to address the interests of our female team members and help to advance their skills to allow for long-term career success. Critical to long-term retention is communication and continuing the dialogue with our women is key. Firms need to adapt as team members’ needs and the needs of firms change. There has to be discussion about the “why” behind decision-making to drive engagement and we need to listen to best understand how to shape the future.

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?

The numbers suggest that we still have work to do but the environment has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Women are at the table, they are partners and corporate officers and they are “leaning in.” They are also integrating work and life in new ways to accommodate success at the office, as well as happy family life at home. It is not easy but it is possible. I think today’s professional men are seeking the same work/life integration so the gender barriers are slowly disappearing.

How have you managed to balance your professional and personal life obligations, whether that includes family, etc?

There is no such thing as “balance,” rather I like to think about it as an ever-evolving work/life integration – moving fluidly from one to the other as the needs of family and clients dictate. I am busy and lead a full life both at work and at home – it is finding true happiness and working toward your own personal state of grace that makes anything possible. I credit my success to a strong work ethic, a desire for continuous learning/growth and the support of an amazing family and group of friends. It does “take a village” to raise a family and our community of friends is second to none. We support each other in our diversity. An incredible partnership with my husband, nurturing our shared love of family and the desire to be present for our three children, has allowed me to integrate my work and life in a way that has been successful for all of us. Creating a proven track record early in my career allowed me the flexibility I needed to contribute both at work and at home. Great communication with family, as well as my team members and supervisors along the way, has also made this integration possible.

How mobile are you regarding your work? How have mobile devices and apps impacted your productivity and work-life balance?

We live in a technology-rich environment which can be both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, there is an expectation of 24/7 connectivity, which I don’t believe is realistic or necessary. In our profession, we don’t save lives. We need to unplug to allow for critical thinking, creativity and innovation, as well as personal well-being. On the other hand, technology has been a tremendous asset in allowing us to integrate work/life, increase efficient productivity and allow on-the-fly connectivity to team, clients and family when the need arises. Overall, technology has helped to keep us better connected to all that we need in order to be productive at work and at home.

What single piece of technology could you absolutely not live without, and why?

My travel-sized computer is my priceless piece of technology. I can email, access the internet, make phone calls and manage my calendar from any place in the world – it allows me to manage my work/home life with ease.

What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?

I am not sure this qualifies as a “professional” app but it’s my favorite - Apple Maps on my iPhone. No matter what city I find myself in for work or play, I can get to client meetings, children’s activities, a new restaurant or an event easily without missing a beat.

What do you like to do when you actually have free time without any obligations to work or family?

I love reading and going to book club or hanging out with girlfriends. Cooking new recipes and entertaining friends, having great dinners with my husband (that always include good wine) and traveling with our family are all favorite leisure time activities.