Accounting & Audit
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk – 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Oct. 24, 2016
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
President, bbr marketing
MBA with marketing concentration from Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA; BA in journalism, public relations and French from Troy University (Troy, AL)
What advice would you give to female college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?
Opportunities for women in the accounting profession are much better now than they were even 10 years ago, but they also have a long way to go. For those that enter accounting, I suggest you find a mentor who is a firm leader, ideally a woman partner. Look for ways to make a name for yourself and do your best to bring in new business from day 1. Point out your successes to your managers; don’t expect anyone to notice them on their own.
What would you suggest to accounting firms that are interested in retaining and advancing more qualified female staff?
First, promote the qualified women in your firm. Younger women will want to be a part of a firm that shows that they want and respect female leadership and don’t just talk about it. Be flexible in how you measure accomplishments and dole out raises and promotions. Everyone can contribute to a firm’s success but how they do it might not be in the same way that you do. Consider adding benefits like job sharing, flexible hours or other features that make it easier for working moms to contribute.
Why did you choose to work in – and stay in – the accounting field?
I sort of fell into the accounting field when I took a job as a marketing director for an Atlanta firm. When I decided to start my own marketing firm, I choose to focus on the accounting industry because I saw a need there that I understood and wanted to fill. Marketing for accounting is unique, for sure, but I love helping firms find their differentiators and reach their markets, so this is why I stay.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve been on a big Christopher Moore kick lately, and recently finished reading Fool. I also just reread Prince of Tides (RIP Pat Conroy) and plan to start The Girl on the Train soon.
What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
1. Continued focus on succession planning for firms as the option for acquisition becomes less of a given.
2. More attention will be focused on how firms will operate in the future with Boomers forced to take GenX and Millennials more seriously if they ever want to retire.
3. Marketing and business development will be invited to the table with firm leadership so they can contribute their knowledge to the discussions about their firm’s future.
How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
I plan to continue doing what I do now…work with firms to improve their marketing and growth as well as help inform and educate the profession on the many facets of marketing and the vital role it plays for each firm.
Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped shape the direction or focus of your professional life.
There are so many people who have helped me along the way, but one of the most influential has to be my grandmother, Velma Retzler. She passed away in late 2014 at the age of 96, but I still feel her support and spirit with me every day. She was incredibly strong willed, encouraging and never let me shirk responsibility or make excuses. She told me I could do whatever I wanted but also warned me that what I wanted (and needed) would change over time, so it was important to be flexible too. She was always there to celebrate my successes and console me when I was down, and I strive to be the person she believed I could be.
Please share a personal rule or principle that you follow.
Everyone has something to contribute and we have no right to judge others. Too many times I see people jump to an inaccurate conclusion about someone based on their own history and perspective. I believe it is important to remain open minded, embrace the differences in people and try to make the world a better place by your presence.
See the other recipients of the 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting award.