Kimi Brown Ellen, CPA
2023 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Benford Brown & Associates, LLC – Chicago
How do you envision the accounting profession evolving in the foreseeable future for women?
I see the accounting profession evolving in the foreseeable future for women in two way. First, I see more women leading in accounting positions or in firms. When I first became a firm owner, I would be the only woman partner or one of only a handful in the room. I see that continuing to increase. Second, I see continued work-from-home opportunities for accountants that will allow more women who previously would have considered leaving the industry for family obligations, have the ability to stay engaged in the industry on either a part-time or full-time accounting opportunity.
What advice would you give to women college students about preparing for a career in the accounting profession?
I would give three pieces of advice. First, find several mentors within and outside of your organization to help you along the way with important career decisions. Second, find the trade association that best aligns with your accounting career and join the organization and be an active member. Third, pursue an advance degree or accounting credentials as early as possible as it increases the career opportunities.
How would you advise accounting firms on how they can better attract, retain, and advance more women?
I would advise accounting firms to allow flexibility in work hours/structure because with so much virtual options available, people do not have to physically sit in an office to be productive. I would advise them to go outside of their normal recruiting forums and find women at educational institutions that are not where they normally go and that will allow them to attract women from those schools because they will feel that these firms care about diversity in gender.
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
My favorite professional mobile app is LinkedIn. It allows me to stay connected to my peers in real time.
What do you like to do when you have time away from work?
I love to travel, read, and watch live sporting events.
What are your favorite podcasts?
The Corporate Director’s Podcast from Diligent and Hush Loudly Podcast on WGN Radio.