Accounting & Audit
Elizabeth Pittelkow, CPA, CITP, CGMA, DTM – 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Oct. 24, 2016
Elizabeth Pittelkow, CPA, CITP, CGMA, DTM
Director of Accounting and Compliance, ArrowStream, Inc.
Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and Bachelor of Science in Finance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
What advice would you give to female college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?
A career in the accounting profession will be fulfilling, and opportunities exist for women to flourish. I am fortunate to be in a women’s mentoring circle at the Illinois CPA Society, and I have a formal mentor through the AICPA. Women’s initiative groups exist in several accounting associations and organizations, which help to encourage and support women leaders in the profession. My advice is to join women’s mentoring and initiative groups to help identify purposeful career opportunities and to lift others into leadership roles.
What would you suggest to accounting firms that are interested in retaining and advancing more qualified female staff?
I recommend that accounting firms establish formal women’s groups to talk about retention and advancing women. Men should be part of the discussions to understand the issues and contribute to building environments where women are comfortable and confident to ask for what they need to succeed. Firms should also create diversity and inclusion initiatives to ensure they are fostering effective and sustainable settings for all demographics of the workforce.
Why did you choose to work in – and stay in – the accounting field?
My dad’s career was in finance, and I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps in business. I enjoyed my accountancy classes just as much as my finance classes at the University of Illinois and decided to graduate with degrees in both. I started my career in public accounting because I liked the face-paced environment and rapid exposure to different types of businesses. I now work in private accounting and thrive on working on new projects across different specialties, including technology, HR, and legal. The accounting profession offers meaningful career opportunities and consists of some of the hardest working and smartest people in the world. I like the mission of serving the public interest, providing value through services, and operating with high integrity.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading “Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary” by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.
What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
The accounting profession will continue to become more diverse and inclusive. The more diverse perspectives we have, the better we will serve the profession.
Technological advancements will continue to challenge the profession to focus more on technology in our services, especially in the areas of automation, data analytics, and cybersecurity. The profession also can work toward providing more assurance services relating to these areas.
How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
I feel strongly about giving back to the accounting profession because of how much I have seen it improve lives. I will be a volunteer and voice of the profession for as long as I am in it.
My passions in the profession include promoting diversity and inclusion, perpetuating the value of ethics, and developing strategic skills in others. I teach, write, and serve on committees with these passions in mind.
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.
My colleague and friend, Roy Ozols, has been an important mentor to me and to many others. He and I share the same strong work ethic and commitment to integrity. Roy is an insightful, compassionate, and dedicated leader, and he lives and works by the motto, “Life is Good.” We have overcome tough times and celebrated achievements. We encourage each other and are truly a team. The people that we work with are so important to our happiness and success, and Roy has been a consistent and positive presence for our company and me.
Please share a personal rule or principle that you follow.
My career and life philosophy is to always do the right thing and to continuously better myself while uplifting others.
See the other recipients of the 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting award.