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Firm Management

Rita Keller – 2014 Most Powerful Women in Accounting


Rita Keller

President & CEO
Keller Advisors, LLC
Dayton, OH

Education: BS in Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude – St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

Click here to see the other honorees
of the 2014 “Most Powerful Women
in Accounting” awards.

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

    I would (and I do) tell them that they have made a wise choice in selecting accounting as a major and as a career. I believe there is way too many negative thoughts ad comments being written and talked about for women in the accounting profession. I like to convey that an accounting career can be flexible, educational, interesting and financially rewarding.
  2. That advice would you give accounting firms on things they could do to better retain and advance more qualified female staff?

    I urge CPA firm leaders to make it easy for females to speak-up and communicate their wants and needs. I believe females often keep silent and that men (leaders of the firm) interpret their silence meaning they are happy and content. Often I have heard male leaders say, “I wish she would have told me!”…. or she should have said something. So, I advise leaders to furnish the forum for women to be heard – mentoring or counseling sessions, roundtables, women’s initiatives (that include males in some of the discussions).

  3. 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?

    Sorry to report that I believe there is still somewhat of a glass ceiling. It is difficult to change a lifetime of assumptions ingrained in male CPA leaders. I would like to see more CPE sessions on the topic of “helping women advance in CPA firms” directed toward males. When I give presentations on this topic, rarely are there male leaders in attendance. While I focus on helping women in business understand male attitudes (they don’t mean harm, they just don’t know what there doing is misguided), I think men should also be open to learning more of why women do what they do and how to co-exist better (for the benefit of the firm and the clients).

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

    You must have help on the home front. I agree with Sheryl Sandberg when she says choose your partner wisely. In the early years of my career, I was fortunate to have my son’s grandparents nearby to help fill the gaps. As my career advanced, my husband continually became more supportive. I find that some young husbands are often resentful when their wives gradually become more successful (meaning they bring home more money than the husband). I have seen young women with great potential in the CPA profession drop out because of this reason.

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

    I love being mobile! I am able to work from anywhere. Most of my “in the office” work consists of writing, researching and telephone coaching. My clients never need to know I am sitting on a balcony in Hilton Head or in my home office in Ohio. As far as mobile devices and apps – I use many and love them. I always say I couldn’t run my business without Google and Apple. I have an iPhone, iPad Air, Macbook Air and iPod nano (I use it mostly to track my daily steps via the pedometer). I am very active on social media: I blog every business day – just completing 9 years… so I have a lot of content “out there.” I tweet daily, I post on my business Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, I use Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Working solo, as a consultant to CPA firm leaders, I am able to control my own calendar, thus providing as much work/life balance as I need.

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

    I couldn’t survive without my iPhone. It is my main business phone and resource device. Recently, I visited Australia and did not pay the extra cost to have international access. It wasn’t the phone part I missed the most, it was tweeting, GPS, maps Google, etc. I could only use it via wifi and wifi isn’t that prevalent in Australia!

  7. What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?

    My favorite mobile app is Twitter – I get my news and professional updates via following A FEW people/sites on Twitter. I also update my followers often via Twitter. I try to get my clients (CPAs) to use Twitter but have little success – – it can actually be a time saver not a time waster.