March is Women’s History Month, and in that spirit, we'd like to recognize a piece of women’s history that relates to the accounting profession.

On December 21, 1899,   became the first woman CPA in the United States. Christine’s journey was not without its challenges; she actually passed the CPA exam in June 1898, but it took the New York Board of Regents a year and a half to decide that it would allow a woman to be granted a certificate.

Christine’s hard work and tenacity paved the way for future generations of women in our profession, and today we are proud that more than 52 percent of Kreischer Miller’s workforce  is currently comprised of women.

In honor of Women’s History Month, and as a tribute to trailblazer Christine Ross, we asked a few of our women team members to share what helped them build their accounting careers and what advice they would give the next generation of female accounting professionals. Here are some common threads of advice we saw in their answers.

1. Learn as much as you can while early in your career — throughout college and internships.

No matter if you’re a man or a woman in the field of accounting, we recognize that everyone has to start somewhere. There’s a prime opportunity for women to make strides by absorbing as much as they can early in their accounting careers through college experiences and internships.

“The biggest advice I have for anyone looking to start a career in accounting is to gain as much experience as possible before graduating. Try out different types of accounting roles such as private vs. public accounting and audit vs. tax to see what you like and dislike. Although you might not have enjoyed your audit or tax class in college, a role in this area could be a totally different experience. “ 
- Gabby Fulop, Senior Accountant, Audit & Accounting

“We all have one thing in common — we are all authors…authors of our own story. While a career path in accounting may look similar to another’s from afar, no path will ever be identical. Take the time to learn and appreciate your value and what you can offer to the team, and do not be apologetic to ask for help to consistently improve your skills so that you can show up as the best version of yourself.”
- Lisa Pileggi, Director-in-Charge, Tax Strategies

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2. Find a mentor, preferably another successful woman in the field.

Having a mentor is invaluable for career growth — since they can offer guidance based on their own experiences, valuable insights, and advice for those within the field of accounting. If you’re able to find another woman who can help to motivate and guide you, all the better to help you along your way once you do start your accounting career.

“I consider myself very lucky to have had a few key people throughout my career who took me under their wing, lifted me up, and propelled me forward — even when there wasn’t anything in it for them. They saw something in me — even when I didn’t necessarily see it in myself — and their support made a world of difference to me. On the other hand, you will encounter people in your career who are naysayers, doubters, or just don’t seem to have your best interests at heart. Those people can really sap your energy. My advice for women in accounting is to focus your time and energy on finding those people who will be your champions and try not to worry too much about the naysayers.”
- Melanie Vivian, Director, Marketing

“Having multiple mentors who provided me with excellent advice and told me the ‘tough to hear’ things was really important to me.”
- Mary Ellen Harris, Chief Human Resources Officer

“I would also connect and talk with women in other career paths. There are so many related attributes in all career paths; what has worked for someone in an accounting career might work just as well for someone in an education career, and vice versa.”
- MaKayla Hancock, Talent Acquisition Manager, Talent Acquisition

3. Find an accounting firm with a good culture and good people.

Company culture is crucial as it shapes the work environment, influencing employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity. A positive and inclusive culture fosters teamwork, communication, and a sense of belonging for women and men alike. It’s vital to find an employer that appreciates a woman’s strengths talents, and perspectives in the field of accounting.

“It’s truly all about the people you work with. Working until midnight during busy season on an out-of-town job does not feel like working if you love your coworkers. Having a support system of people and women going through the same struggles of trying to balance life and career helps immensely. Working with someone you’re comfortable having a glass (or bottle) of wine with on the toughest days makes those days a little less stressful.“
- Elizabeth Carroll, Audit Technology Specialist and Manager, Audit & Accounting

“Find your tribe. They will be your biggest fans and confidants, they will celebrate you and keep you humble, and they will push you to be your best self.”
- Bobbi Kelly, Director-in-Charge, Talent Advisory

4. Strive for work/life balance.

While a career in accounting can mean buckling down during peak seasons, it’s crucial to maintain a separation between work and home to avoid burnout. Whether you’re a working mother or devoted sister at home and a director at the office, know your priorities, as well as your limits. For many of our female employees, this means setting important work/life boundaries and having people to help them maintain them.

“A good support system has helped me keep a work-life balance.”
- Julie Getz, Manager, Small Business Advisory

“Know yourself – how you like to work, when you are most productive, what you like working on, what you want to focus on. Sort out your priorities (but be flexible) — set aside time for family/having a life but be realistic, busy season is still busy season. Know your limits — burning out or losing sleep isn’t going to benefit your home life or work life. Ask for help if you need it and use your support system.”
- Elizabeth Carroll, Manager, Audit & Accounting

5. Rely on your team and delegate.

A strong connection with others on your team is like having a bunch of workplace friends cheering you on. When things get tough, relying on your team adds an extra layer of support and makes the daily grind a shared experience. Team relationships aren't only helpful for problem-solving; they help you to divide and conquer when possible.

“Have good communication skills and good relationships with your team members and clients. All the keys to solving issues and problems lie with them. You can run fast by yourself, but you can run further when you get help from others.”
- Yunmee Yu, Senior Accountant, Audit & Accounting

“Learn to delegate. There are many things that you don’t have to do, and when you give them away you can find the time to work on the things you need to do and develop yourself. This is a work and a personal life tip!”
- Julie Getz, Manager, Audit & Accounting

6. Become an expert in a specific specialty.

We all love leaning on an expert when needed. Look to become the “go-to” person for something at work to stand out as a woman in accounting. This could go a long way in making you irreplaceable and furthering your career.

“One key to success: look to become the “go-to” person for something at work. It can be a technical area, an industry focus, or something like training or recruiting. Our organizations are stronger, and so are we, when each of us develops a complementary specialty.”
- Jennifer Kreischer, Director, Audit & Accounting

7. Embrace the flexibility when working in public accounting.

Women in public accounting can truly have their ideal career if they are willing to embrace the flexibility the profession offers. The profession offers opportunities for flexible, part-time, and, in some cases, remote positions, and choosing one of these at a certain point in one’s career does not compromise a return to full-time opportunities in public accounting.

“Women often have additional demands as caregivers, whether that be for children, other family members, or aging parents. There is no unique definition of success, and public accounting careers afford the option to carve out that success to fit what it means to you personally. For example, success to me when my family was growing meant being able to devote time to my children while also keeping my career moving forward, albeit at a slower pace. A combination of part-time, remote working, and an employer that provided continuing professional education allowed me to achieve this.”
- Vinita Weir, Manager, Outsourced Accounting & Finance Services

“I enjoy the diverse experience and challenge that public accounting offers daily. Every day is different and each project/ client is unique. I try to enjoy the feeling of growth and achievement when each project is completed after putting in such a large effort.”
- Yunmee Yu, Senior Accountant, Audit & Accounting

8. Set clear goals for your accounting career growth.

A piece of advice we saw time and time again for women in accounting is to always identify clear goals and to ask for what you want. Sometimes women hesitate to promote themselves or ask for what they want. However, it is easier to attain goals with the assistance of others.

“It is important to set goals, communicate them, and identify the steps in between that will get you closer to those goals. Everyone’s goals are different; they could encompass industry specialization, specialized skills or certificates, or promotions. Let others know about your goals! Those "others" could be supervisors, mentors, industry specialists, or anyone you admire or respect.
- Laurie Murphy, Retired Director, Risk Management

“Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to have your career path completely mapped out or to have everything “figured out,” especially in the first few years of your career. The best opportunities have come to me when I wasn’t necessarily looking for them. If I had been resolute in my 5 or 10-year plan, I may have had blinders on and not even been open to those opportunities. Plus, I’ve found that when you don’t know exactly what you want to do, trying new things and being able to rule out the things you discover you don’t want to do can be very valuable in helping to narrow your focus.”
- Melanie Vivian, Director, Marketing

9. Find a way to stay organized.

Staying organized saves you from the chaos and keeps things running smoothly. When you know where things are and what needs to be done, it's a game-changer for reducing stress and boosting productivity. Plus, being organized gives you more time for social bonding at the workplace, like grabbing that extra cup of coffee without feeling guilty.

“I think a small key to success which has a big impact is finding a system to keep yourself organized, even if it’s organized chaos! I use Microsoft OneNote all the time to keep all of my notes and thoughts in one place, and it is amazing how much stress it alleviates.”
- Julie Getz, Manager, Audit & Accounting

10. Always be learning, no matter where you are in your accounting career path.

Continual learning and skill development in your career are imperative for professional growth and adaptability. It's not just about impressing your boss; it's about making your workdays more interesting and rewarding. Embracing the learning curve keeps you sharp and opens up new opportunities.

“Strive to continue learning and expanding your skills to advance your personal and professional development. You can do this by taking advantage of the resources that are available to you. Your company might offer internal training and lunch and learns, and there are numerous webinars and resources available online. Additionally, attending events, conferences, meetings, and even getting lunch with colleagues oftentimes present many learning opportunities.”
- Melanie Vivian, Director, Marketing

11. Don’t let fear or imposter syndrome hinder your career growth.

Women can be modest about their contributions in the workplace and less forceful when negotiating promotions. Don't let fear or imposter syndrome slam the brakes on your career journey.

Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, acknowledging that everyone faces uncertainties. Remember, you've earned your spot through hard work and capability, so push past self-doubt and stride confidently toward your career aspirations.

“Early on in my career, I saw that a senior accountant had left the firm I was working for, which created an opening for a great client. I immediately asked to fill that opening. I don’t think I would have been the first choice for that client since there were other seniors with more experience in that industry, but I did ask and I did get assigned to the client. I gained great experience with that client in an industry that interested me!”
- Laurie Murphy, Retired Director, Risk Management

“Going after opportunities, even when they scared me or required change, was a game changer. I learned to follow my gut and realized that complacency will never allow me to accomplish my personal and professional goals. Once you master one area, there is always something else to learn.”
- MaKayla Hancock, Talent Acquisition Manager, Talent Acquisition

12. Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is often good for both your personal and professional advancement. It's in those unfamiliar territories that you discover new strengths, skills, and resilience you didn't know you had. Embracing discomfort isn't just about overcoming challenges; it's a pathway to unlocking your full potential and experiencing the thrill of continuous self-improvement.

“Challenging yourself to go out of your comfort zone allows you to learn and grow on many levels. It’s okay to make mistakes. Your peers will not dwell on the minor errors you’ve made along the way, but your hard work and your ability to apply yourself will be admired and appreciated. Remember, everyone is learning and growing, regardless of their job position.”
- Molly Klein, Manager, Marketing

“All of my biggest leaps have come from pushing myself out of my comfort zone and believing in the possibility. Do not be afraid to make mistakes! A few stumbles along the way just enhance the learning process and help you refine your focus.”
- Kristin Seeger, Director, Talent Acquisition

13. Take pride in being a woman in the field of accounting.

One key to success for women in business — accounting specifically — is honoring your gender and unique strengths as a woman in the profession.

“View your gender as a strategic advantage – your intuition, your perspective, and your ideas are all unique and add value.”
- Mary Ellen Harris, Chief Human Resources Officer

Further Your Accounting Career with Kreischer Miller

This career advice for women in accounting comes straight from a few  of our talented team members. Here at Kreischer Miller, we make a commitment to retaining, investing in, supporting, and empowering the women of our team.

That’s why we established an internal women's network called RISE. RISE stands for Retain, Invest, Support, and Empower, and it is a comprehensive women’s network that provides our female accountants and other employees with opportunities to connect as a team, learn from one another, and grow their careers.

Explore our RISE program and some benefits of our welcoming and empowering culture, today.