Gale Crosley, CPA - 2013 Most Powerful Women in Accounting

Gale Crosley, CPA

Founder and President
Crosley + Company
Atlanta, GA

Education: BS, Accounting, University of Akron
Professional Associations: AICPA, Georgia Society of CPAs, Ohio Society of CPAs
Hobbies: Running, golfing, skiing, piano.

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?

Follow your passion – always – this trumps everything! If public accounting is your passion, then don’t just learn about accounting. Hone your leadership and communication skills through elective classes and ongoing adult learning after graduation. There are plenty of accountants and plenty of opportunities. The ones who excel hone their interpersonal skills.

If you want a family someday, it’s possible to achieve career fulfillment as well. You’ll just have to learn how. When it’s relevant, read, find role models and figure out how others before you have done it.

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

Become a female-friendly environment. Women have unique needs because of society’s cultural biases. You’ll need to understand them and help your women. Example – we are not taught to be “initiators”. So we often stand back and wait for others to initiate action. This is not helpful in leadership positions. Also, women need role models, flexible working conditions, and a vision of how to achieve their dreams. We now have plenty of resources to draw upon – experts, books, example firms.

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?

It depends upon your definition of glass ceiling. The traditional definition was a chauvinistic bias against women. I don’t think this is a major factor today. But its disappearance isn’t all we need for success. Not having a female-friendly firm culture is today’s glass ceiling. In many firms women are left on their own to figure out what is holding them back and to push through challenges alone – childcare, balance, effective leadership behaviors.

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

It’s been a long and challenging road to constantly knock down barriers. My resume looks like a checkerboard. The reason is that I would run into an immovable roadblock and need to change direction. But I was always true to myself and respectful of my God-given gifts. My biggest breakthrough was when I understood the importance of outsourcing – laundry, ironing, cooking, housework, running errands, changing diapers – anything someone else could do that wasn’t high-value was delegated. Sometimes we could barely afford it, but in order to achieve the next level of success we had to invest.

Although you didn’t ask what I would have done differently, I would say we were “under-    nannied”. We had nannies, but I was saddled with what you “should” do, so didn’t use them as fully as we could have to make our lives even easier.

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

Most weeks I travel around the country, and sometimes internationally, 5 days a week, for 10 straight months. After busy season, during which no one wants to see me, I hit the road again for ten months.  Texting has been a life-changer. Quick instructions to my team allow us to efficiently communicate. My assistant and I now only need to talk once a week for a few minutes!

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

My laptop. It has everything I need to be completely mobile.

What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?

Flight Tracker – because I always need to see flight options and schedules. Also Weather, so I know what to pack. For example, this week I’m going from a 45 degree to a 95 degree climate.

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

Run, golf, Pilates, read, movies