Tommye Barie, CPA
2023 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
EVP – Leaders Development
Success Institute, LLC
How do you envision the accounting profession evolving in the foreseeable future for women?
The accounting profession will continue evolving to provide more desirability and opportunities for women. The impact women have in our profession is undeniable and while there are still barriers and challenges, the percentage of women in leadership of organizations is on the rise, modified work arrangements will continue to be more common, young women entering the profession now have more role models and that will continue, the compensation gap will continue to narrow, and awareness of unconscious bias continues to improve. The accounting profession continuously evolves into diverse service line opportunities and women will play a critical role in advancing those opportunities. Our world is becoming increasingly complex and businesses will want to benefit from the diverse perspective that female accountants bring to help navigate the operations and financial aspects of their organizations.
What advice would you give to women college students about preparing for a career in the accounting profession?
I always advise young women (and men) to seek internships so they can get a sense early as to what public accounting is like and if they have an interest in exploring private accounting to seek an internship in that environment as well. Our profession provides such diverse opportunity and I would want them to come out of school and into the workforce having awareness of what their many options are. Women continue to encounter barriers, but in spite of that, their future is bright. My advice to each person is to pursue a career within our profession that checks all of THEIR boxes – one that provides them the work/life balance they desire, the financial satisfaction they crave, and the growth as a person they strive for. Women don’t have to compromise….we can have it all. But, each choice we make will have some offsetting counterbalances. For example, if you want to work at home, you may not be promoted as quickly. If you want more money, you might have to work more hours. If you want to have a flexible schedule and spend more time with your children, there will be financial impact for that choice. But, the great part of the story is that women, like men, today can configure almost any job they want – the way they want, so they can live the life they want. My advice to them is to be bold, be brave, be assertive, be diligent, and have fun. In my view, there has never been more opportunity in our profession than what we are experiencing today. You can fill almost any role, in any company, doing the job in almost any way imaginable. It’s a great time to be a CPA.
How would you advise accounting firms on how they can better attract, retain, and advance more women?
Firms have made progress in this area with the percentage of women in leadership positions in firms continuing to rise, but there is more to be done. Ensuring that firm culture is such that women feel wanted, respected, included, and on a level playing field is foundational to attracting, retaining, and advancing more women. Additionally, I advise firms to provide a clear unambiguous path to advancement with a “developmental coach” assigned to guide them along that path, make that individual better each step of the way, and hold them accountable for understanding and meeting the expectations that will advance them throughout their career.
Focusing on developing a whole person based on a competency model has, and will continue to, become more and more important in our profession. It isn’t enough to just develop someone from a technical standpoint. It is actually the human skills that will serve them best as they ascend to leadership positions.
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
I am not sure how to best answer this question. I get on my iPad every morning to see what is happening in the world through Apple’s mobile news app. I have a smart watch tracking my health (like my steps, my heartbeat, etc.) as well as texts and other communications. I use my e-reader to read books. I use my phone and my iPad to play games. Because of how I make a living, I am on the road about 125 days a year. This means that I am on a lot of planes. And I use all of my mobile apps, every day, from the time I get up to the time I go to sleep to help me navigate my life. They bring so much convenience to my life, from boarding passes to get through security and boarding a plane, to keep me calm throughout the board and take-off process playing a game or watching a video, to ensuring that I am active enough and more. They help me find the destination I am looking for (MAPs), they help me connect with friends and business relationships (LinkedIn), they help me with a needed recharge as I separate from a business day at work (games like Spider Solitaire), to managing my finances (bank apps), and more. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite mobile app, I would tell you that I use 15-20 of them every day to make my life more efficient and accessing information I want more convenient.
What do you like to do when you have time away from work?
I really enjoy spending time with family and friends. Other activities include golfing, pilates, paddle boarding, cooking, and walking. And I am likely to find a way to incorporate a competitive environment as I approach any one of those sports.
What are your favorite podcasts?
I don’t know that I really have any favorites. I tend to bounce around a lot depending on what I am interested in learning more about at a particular point in time. I open my Apple app, browse the category I want, and I’m off to the races. I spend time each morning looking at the landscape of topics presented that day and drill d own into the one that intrigues me the most. I also might be following a story over time, like the recent demise of Silicon Valley Bank, and in those instances I look for the latest update until that story has played itself out.