Jill Ward, MBA
Sr. Vice President and General Manager
Accountant Advisory Group
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Wellesley College and Master in Business Administration, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Professional Associations: Business Leadership Council of Wellesley College
Hobbies: Hiking, reading, everything outdoors
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?
According to our recent Intuit 2013 Future of Accountancy report, women will hold more leadership roles in the workplace, politics and education by the year 2020. Due to higher levels of education and a shift to a knowledge economy, the gender gap in earnings is set to narrow, which is great news for female college students looking to graduate and go into professional roles. In many professions, including accounting, women represent 59 percent of graduates, and will represent the majority of new entrants and a growing percent of senior executives.
With the millennial generation graduating college and entering the workforce, they have the perfect opportunity to embrace their technological upbringing and interact with their clients virtually and digitally, with online services at the forefront of their practices.
Women looking to enter the accounting profession should move forward with the confidence that opportunities abound for them within the workplace. As firms increasingly move to the cloud, their knowledge of online and digital platforms will help serve clients in the digital age.
What advice would you give accounting firms on things they could do to better retain and advance more qualified female staff?
Women expect different things in the workplace now than they did 20 years ago. Currently, accounting professionals are looking to have it all—work, family and personal time, so being able to work anytime, anywhere is vitally important. Men and women are still sharing parenting roles and also both often working, so having the flexibility to take a client meeting, answer a quick email or file an amended tax return from a soccer game or ballet recital is critical to retaining staff.
Some of the formal programs that can address the upward mobility for women are flexible scheduling, childcare and mentoring.
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?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 Current Population Survey, women are 61.3 percent of all accountants and auditors in the United States and a 2011 AICPA study, women were half of newly hired accounting graduates at CPA firms, and 40 percent of all CPAs.
These statistics suggest that the glass ceiling has been broken for women as they continue to thrive in the accounting profession.
How have you managed to balance your professional and personal life obligations, whether that includes family, etc?
The most important key to keeping it all together is prioritizing and having the right tools to get the work done. It’s been so helpful for me to able to work anytime, anywhere. With my trusty iPad, I can organize my priorities and manage everything critical.
How mobile are you regarding your work? How have mobile devices and apps impacted your productivity and work-life balance?
I take my iPad and laptop everywhere. Having a device that is connected to the Internet no matter where I am is a huge advantage. Even when I’m doing something as simple as writing emails, I am working with files that are stored in the cloud, and so I appreciate having access to Dropbox and QuickBase to get at my current documents. I also love my iPhone because I’m connected to email anytime, anywhere – which is a great thing for efficiency and staying connected.
What single piece of technology could you absolutely not live without, and why?
I take my iPad and laptop wherever I go. Thanks to its battery life, the iPad can pretty much work or for as long as I need it and having a device that is connected to the Internet no matter where I am is a huge advantage. Even when I’m doing something as simple as writing emails, I am working with files that are stored in the cloud, and so I appreciate having access to Dropbox and QuickBase to get at my current documents. With my iPhone, I’m connected to email anytime, anywhere – which is both a great thing for efficiency and staying connected, but always being available has its drawbacks.
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
Two of my favorites are actually from Intuit and I love them because of the impact they’re having on our customers to help them save time and better serve their clients. The feedback from users has been great and we’re excited to keep innovating for them making their mobile devices even more powerful.
Intuit Online Payroll Mobile works with iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and allows accounting professionals to manage their clients' payroll while out of the office. With just a few taps, users can enter employee hours, review, approve and instantly pay employees. All paycheck details are automatically reflected in the user's Intuit Online Payroll or Intuit Online Payroll for Accounting Professionals account.
Intuit Tax Online Mobile has a special place in my heart because it was the first commercial mobile app from our Accounting Professionals Division. It gives accounting professionals anytime, anywhere access to client’s tax information. This shortens the process of answering clients’ questions and checking an e-file status from one day to 30 seconds.
What do you like to do when you actually have free time without any obligations to work or family?
I like to visit far flung friends and family and do this frequently! I also enjoy the outdoors…any and all activities outside! Let’s have meetings outside!