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Life as a CPA

A Peek Into Life as a CPA: Preface

In my Reigniting blog post, I mentioned that being a CPA is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.  One of the things that I like about the profession is that is provides us (CPAs) with a ton of opportunities—not just in the type of jobs and organizations that we can work in, but in what we do and how we live.

Beyond just the “day job”, there are a lot of opportunities to become involved in the profession itself.  We are the only profession that is self-regulating—we write our own standards for how work is done, and hold our own members accountable for what they do.  This is done via a network and hierarchy of committees and task forces that operate at the international, national, and state levels.  There are also CPA firm associations and networks that share best practices and help each other to succeed.

And these opportunities come with a variety of perks, my favorite of which is travel.  Some people have started to refer to me as a “jetsetter”, reflecting the fact that I spend over 50% of the time on the road (or on a plane, as the case may be, coming from Hawaii).  I hadn’t really thought about how “exciting” my life must seem to others since travel has been such a regular part of my life for the last 15+ years.  Starting from when I worked for PwC, I have always hopped over the Pacific at least quarterly—probably 90% of which is usually work-related.

When I left PwC, I found that I missed the travel, so I started volunteering for AICPA committees since they usually included 1-2 meetings a year (usually in a good location).  Then I started speaking on the conference circuit and that came with even more travel.  All of these also included paid expenses and lodging.  So I worked hard for the committees and ensured that I did well in the speaking engagements, and earned my trips away from Hawaii.  And now I am away from home at least a week every month, sometimes for as much as four weeks in a row.

An additional (unexpected) benefit that I gained was a national network of colleagues, many of which were leaders from their states and in their area of expertise.  This little guy from Hawaii, now had access to a national network of experts!  Many of these I now also consider good friends.  I’ve met their families, seen their families grow, and many have even opened their homes to me when I am visiting their area.  Again, this all happened over time, so I hadn’t realized how different it was from the life the “average person” leads.

So what is all this like? I think if I tried to tell the story, it would be hard for me to decide what to highlight.  A lot of this is just the norm for me now.  So when my friend Ty approached me to do a “summer internship” with my firm, I thought here’s the perfect opportunity.  I’ll have him shadow me for the summer and have him tell my story from his eyes—as someone considering a career in accounting, and an “outsider” looking in at the CPA profession.

Luckily he accepted the assignment, and we decided to share his experience through a series of blog posts that you will see over the course of this month.  99% of the story is true, the only thing we altered is the starting timeline, mainly to help the story flow more smoothly in the beginning.

I hope you enjoy this peek into my life…into the opportunities of a life as a CPA.

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