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Ingrid Edstrom, CQB – 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting

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Ingrid Edstrom, CQB

President & CEO
Polymath, LLC
BA in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, MN



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

This is an exciting time to become an accountant, whether you want to focus on financial management or tax, as the accounting profession is about to explode with opportunities. The very definitions of accountant and bookkeeper are changing with the advances of technology, and as a result the world needs a new minds in the profession that have an amazing combination of business acumen, tech savvy, and people skills to lead tomorrow’s small businesses to success. 

What would you suggest to accounting firms that are interested in retaining and advancing more qualified female staff?

In order to get and keep good people, we need to create opportunities for personal and professional growth and leadership. Having an award-winning team is about more than trading hours for a paycheck. Value is created when we focus on relationships and results, with our team, our clients, and our colleagues. Healthy, happy teams make healthy, successful businesses.  

Why did you choose to work in – and stay in – the accounting field?

I originally chose the bookkeeping field because I have one of those brains that eat debits and credits for breakfast. QuickBooks is my favorite video game, and I love helping small businesses succeed by understanding their financials. Now, with the advances in technology that have fully automated the data entry process, management accounting is focused more on the bigger picture, long-term business success rather than simple historical compliance. We are able to do even more for our clients, and there is always more to learn. I have a hungry mind, and the opportunities in the account world always make me feel like a kid in a candy store!

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Michael Gerber’s “The E-Myth Revisted,” and I am currently wrapping up Darren Root’s “Intentional Accountant”, Mike Michalowicz’s new book “Surge”, and Les McKeown’s “The Synergist.” I just started listening to Mike Michalowicz’s “Pumpkin Plan.” Once I’m done with those, I have “E-Myth Accountant” and several others waiting on my night stand.

What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?

The accounting profession is about to change dramatically. We have already been seeing amazing advances in technology, but there have been some delays in rolling out some of these changes due to reluctance from accounting professionals who are not keeping up with continuing education and do not want to leave the ledger behind. Soon they will not have a choice. The accountants to refuse to evolve with the times will either retire or become obsolete, and that will create a vacuum in the profession as not enough new professionals are filling those roles. It is our responsibility as leaders in the field to help our colleagues evolve with these changes. In order to do that, we need to remove our limiting notions of competition within the industry. By focusing on niche specialties, we can all focus on deeper relationships with fewer clients, and make sure those businesses are really thriving.

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

I am working to educate my colleagues about the changes in the profession, and encouraging more leaders to step forward. We are working to create more local networks for accountants to support and educate each other. Through our articles, classes, books, videos, and coaching groups, we are working to help our colleagues grow their businesses so that together we can help more small business owners in other professions. Together, we will make the world a better place, built on a foundation of thriving small business.

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.

Kaydee Peterson for has inspired and helped my firm grow on so many levels. It was Kaydee who mentioned the National Advisor Network to me back in the late summer or early autumn of 2014. She encouraged me to join, saying that it was one of the best professional networks available for our industry, and she enthusiastically invited me to join their Woodard Group chapter up in Portland, Oregon, despite it being more than a five hour drive away.

As the months went on, Kaydee continued to be a resource. As a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network, she helped to keep me in the loop on what to really pay attention to in our ever-changing technology. She also strongly encouraged me to attend Scaling New Heights, which totally changed my world.

I was amazed and inspired to see Kaydee’s magic at work at Scaling New Heights, and then again at QBConnect and SleeterCon in 2015. She is a perennial connector, uniting people and technology seamlessly. She flits from teaching an awesome class over to running demos and promotions for app partners. Her positive attitude and fun-loving spirit is contagious to everyone she encounters, especially when she is dressed up in lights and rainbows with her hula hoop. If anyone is to win the prize for pep and pride in our industry, it is Kaydee.

With all of these things in mind, it is no wonder that Kaydee was recently offered a position with Intuit. Now she continues to help even more accounting firms as a Business Development Manager. Her passion for accounting, business, and simply helping others is so amazing that even Oprah Winfrey saw it right away and was so impressed that she had to mention Kaydee by name in her keynote at QuickBooks Connect 2015. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for her suggestions and encouragement, and I am very grateful. 

Please share a personal rule or principle that you follow.

We create the world around us with our thoughts, words, and actions. Have clear intention in everything you do, keep an open, flexible, and hungry mind, and always be open to growth and change. There is always a next level to strive for.



See the other recipients of the 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting award.