Meet Our Members Spotlight
May 10, 2023
What's it like to have a career in accounting?
Meet some of our members to learn about different paths in the profession.
"I view accounting as a means to empower individuals and foster financial stability. Envisioning my future as an accountant, I aspire to lead my own accounting firm, instilling confidence in clients through expert financial counsel that fuels their business success."
— Bertina Nguyen | MassCPAs Emerging Scholar Award Recipient
"I’m a detail-oriented person and I like to deal with numbers. I love accounting because it’s all about balance — we balance the financials, we balance the relationships with clients and team, and we balance professional judgment and accounting standards."
— Yu Fan | Deloitte LLP
"My passion for accounting stems from my love for critical thinking and problem-solving. In an ever-changing and intricate business landscape, I thrive on the challenge of anlyzing complex transactions."
— Jirapa Wongwanic | Deloitte LLP
“Accountants are not just the people working with numbers, we also advise on strategic business decisions. The profession's emphasis on building strong relationships and providing valuable guidance to clients who trust and rely on our expertise brings me immense satisfaction."
— Jamie Tong-Chow, CPA | tonneson + co
“I chose accounting because of my love for working with numbers and the influence of my grandmother who was an accountant. I look forward to obtaining the CPA licensure in the years to come!"
— Feng Xu | Accounting Major, UMass Amherst Class of 2024
“There are often misconceptions about a career in accounting, and while it is about numbers, it’s about so much more. Numbers are just a fraction of the equation.”
— Norma Mendilian, CPA | Boston MedFlight
“Accounting is very collaborative and so much more than just a numbers business. Accountants use data to tell a story, and these stories allow our clients to make informed decisions about their business.”
— Kacie McManus, CPA | Charles River Associates
“Accounting and finance are needed in every business and every industry. There’s always something to learn and there are so many opportunities for finance professionals.”
— Anne Hamill, CPA | Roselli, Clark & Associates, CPAs
“I’ve always liked math, and accounting gave me a way to work with numbers that I found interesting. Thinking about careers, everyone needs accountants and there are a lot of different jobs and industries to work in.”
— Katherine Durant, CPA, CGMA, ERC | CVS Health
"My love of accounting and finance started in high school when I had an incredible teacher who explained the material in an engaging way."
— Ileaqua Adams | Corporate Finance and Accounting Major, Bentley University Class of 2023
"An accounting degree gives you endless opportunities, including the ability to grow and create your own path."
— Cutty Thomas, CPA/ABV, CGMA | Withum
"There are so many career paths for someone
with an accounting background and you don’t have to get stuck in one area for the rest of your career!"
— Caroline Waweru, MBA, MSA, CPA | CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen)
"Think about how much you can gain from doing something you’ve never done. That mindset is key to a career where you’re confident enough in your competencies to take risks."
— Erik White, CPA, CFF, CFE | EY
“Becoming a CPA was a natural career progression once I began working for a CPA firm. I have taken the effort to maintain my license as it has assisted me in obtaining jobs that would not have been available to me otherwise. I have had more opportunities to advance my career with my CPA designation.”
— Kit Curnow, CPA | Blue Q Corporation
“I knew the CPA certificate would open doors for me, no matter where I ultimately wanted to work. I was with a big CPA firm for 8 years, then a financial firm and, for the last 35 years, as a full-time practice CPA with my own firm. Couldn’t have done it without the CPA certificate!”
— James Donovan, Jr., CPA | Apple & Albano, PC
“CPA is the highest professional designation in the accounting profession, a platinum standard. I wanted to achieve it. I got paid more at every job because I am a CPA. I got jobs I would not otherwise because I am a CPA. I got more respect from colleagues because I am a CPA. On a personal level, it is a source of pride, accomplishment, and inspiration on days of self-doubt.”
— Anna Howard, CPA, CMA | AICPA & CIMA
“I became a CPA because I wanted a career that used my skills and enjoyment of working with numbers. I remain a CPA because it is actually a "people business" as opposed to a numbers business. I love helping the small businesses and individuals we work with. Also, the variety in the work keeps it interesting. We work with so many different types of businesses and people that there is really no repetition and no routine to our job.”
— Maureen Kynoch, CPA | Yoshida & Sokolski PC
“In college, I learned that accounting wasn't just bookkeeping, taxes and financial statements. I discovered that there were so many other jobs and fields out there that I could apply my accounting knowledge and skills. I always felt like there was a prestige to becoming a CPA. And now that I am a CPA I have an expertise that I can use to develop and change my career to fit me.”
— Mindi Labella, CPA | Labella Solutions LLC
“I became a CPA because I saw it as my ticket to the highest level of management in the companies I worked for during college. I stayed in public accounting because I enjoyed the variety of work and helping management in many organizations achieve their goals.”
— Tim MacLellan, CPA, CGMA, PFS | Morgan & Morgan, PC
“I became a CPA because I love problem-solving. I view the auditing and financial reporting functions as a series of puzzles to be solved. My experience as a CPA led me to many career opportunities that drew on the skill-set I developed in the profession, including a 15-year stint as a full-time clinical professor of accounting. I remain a CPA because I believe I have a lot to give back to the profession - as an educator helping to prepare the next generation of CPAs.”
— MJ Potvin, CPA, CGMA | LGA, LLP
“I’m a CPA because I love the large variety of work! There’s always something to learn and I enjoy the challenge of working with lots of different clients and people.”
— Deb Rogers, CPA
“Obtaining my CPA was a culmination of all the hard work and determination I put into my career. I did not get it when I was just out of school because I needed to work to support myself. I was the first person in my family to attend college which was already a great feeling, but I knew I needed the professional designation. So, after 2 kids and my MST I passed all 4 parts on my first try. I keep my CPA because I am proud of my accomplishments and proud to be a part of a group of highly ethical, intelligent and supportive people. My “why” is for me and my family to see that goals are important and they can be accomplished with drive and determination.”
— Jessica Sawyer, CPA, MST | Citrin Cooperman
“When I became a CPA, I felt a tremendous amount of pride with having those three initials after my name. When I say I’m a CPA, there’s respect that comes with that because it gives credibility to the work I’m doing for my clients. Being a CPA opens the door to many opportunities to work in a variety of industries or roles in the profession. In my role at BDO, I’m committed to increasing diversity because representation matters. Diversity in thought is an important thing, and we need more CPAs from diverse backgrounds so we can better serve our clients. I am excited about the work we’re doing at BDO and having my CPA license is the foundation for my success.”
— Greg Turner, CPA, MBA | BDO USA, LLP
"CPAs are in the business of helping people, and it’s really a people science — you have to learn about your clients and find a way to relate to them. My practice is bilingual, which is important because for many of our clients, English isn’t their first language, so it’s important to connect in a way that’s comfortable for them. That in turn builds trust and is the foundation of our relationship. The CPA license gave me the skills I need to help my clients grow their businesses and reach new levels of success, and that motivates me every single day."
— Antonio Lopez, Jr., CPA, MST | LCW Certified Public Accountants
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Nonprofit organization bookkeeper, tax preparer
What is your favorite thing about your career? Working from home and providing value to nonprofit organization that support our communities.
Undergrad alma mater: Bridgewater State University
Degrees: Bachelor degree, cum laude
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Don't stop pushing forward, even if taking one tiny step at a time.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Committee meetings and roundtables
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Professional - Staff Auditor at EY Boston, First job ever was as a Lifeguard!
Undergrad alma mater: Boston College
Graduate alma mater: Boston College
Degrees: BS Management (Accounting and Marketing Concentration), MSA
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? This profession is not what you think...it is dynamic, you can really help people, and it can provide work/life flexibility.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Small firm roundtables
Undergrad alma mater: Assumption College
Degrees: BA in Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Tearing 1040 forms out of tax books for my father.
What is your favorite thing about your career? Being my own boss and being my clients' most trusted advisor.
Anything else interesting about you that you would like for us to include? I once took a helicopter flight over an active volcano (Mt Kilauea in Hawaii).
"Accounting is the 'language' of business. The numbers tell a story and the way that those numbers are compiled and communicated allow decision makers to make thoughtful and informed business decisions." — Marquis Cooper
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Work hard in your early years to reap the benefits later on. Life only gets busier, but laying a strong professional groundwork will payoff.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: The community of other young and experienced professionals that I get to meet through various events.
Undergrad alma mater: Suffolk University
Graduate alma mater: Suffolk University
Degrees: BSBA in Accounting and an MSA in Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Hostess at a restaurant
What is your favorite thing about your career? The flexibility of being able to work anywhere, with a mix of different clients and team members.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? If you find people to work with that you respect and who motivate you, everything else (e.g. career growth, learning opportunities, compensation) will fall into place.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Attending firm roundtables to talk through the common problems we all face.
Anything else interesting about you that you would like for us to include? I received my first job offer in public accounting because of experience I had as a petting zoo tour guide.
Undergrad alma mater: Worcester State University
Graduate alma mater: Assumption College & Bentley University
Degrees: Business Administration degree from Worcester State College, MBA from Assumption College and a Masters in Taxation from Bentley.
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Growing pumpkins and squash to sell on the side of the road every weekend at the age of 10.
What is your favorite thing about your career? The constant changes mean anyone motivated enough can become an expert in whatever new challenge is introduced.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Find a great mentor and do not be afraid to ask for help.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Networking and educational opportunities (there are lots of others, like the vision insurance).
Undergrad alma mater: Bucknell University
Graduate alma mater: Bentley University
Degrees: BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSA with Graduate Certificate in Business Ethics
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Cashier at a fast food restaurant.
What is your favorite thing about your career? How many great people I get to meet/work with across all sorts of organizations.
"When I learned there was an opportunity to contribute in a larger way as part of the MassCPAs community — especially with the focus on students as part of their broader initiatives — there was no hesitation, and I have never regretted that decision." — Rob Miller
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Stay curious and continue to learn new things. Hot topics in accounting seem to evolve and change every few years. The more you evolve and adapt with them, the more successful you will be in your career.
What is your favorite thing about your career? The people. I have traveled to cities far and wide and met new and interesting people along the way. Many of these colleagues and peers remain amongst my closest friends. Accounting has been a great profession for me and the best part has always been the people I have had the opportunity to work with, to learn from and to get to know along the way.
What initially interested you in accounting? My uncle worked as an accountant with the IRS. He and I were both good with numbers and enjoyed figuring things out. Accounting seemed like a perfect career for me.
Undergrad alma mater: UMass Amherst - Isenberg School of Management
Degrees: Bachelors of Business Administration - Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? A a summer intern at Arthur Andersen in the litigation support department. I loved every minute of that internship and have been lucky to still count some of my peers as both friends and colleagues. My path has been an interesting one, from public accounting to consulting firm, back to public accounting firm and finally to Floyd Advisory. My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive in both public accounting and at consulting firms which I attribute to always working on a great team and with a great group of colleagues. In the end, working with a great team makes every day enjoyable and is the best recipe for a successful and rewarding career.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: The committees where I connect with peers on relevant industry topics.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Gather knowledge and experience in multiple industries and then decide which one interests you most.
Do you have a mentor or person you look in the industry for guidance? Nancy Coyle, CPA
What is your favorite thing about your career? Empowering others to take control of their finances and witnessing the impact it can make in their lives.
What initially interested you in accounting? My affinity for math and logic.
Undergrad alma mater: College of the Holy Cross
Degrees: BA in Economics and Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? From public accounting, 25 years in banking industry and my practice in retirement, education and insurance planning
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Taking part in the various committees and meeting other members.
Anything else interesting about you that you would like for us to include? I love to travel and explore new places. I enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and outdoor activities in general, as well as pending time with my children.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? The accounting professional has so many different avenues other than audit & tax. Be curious about other advisory services like forensics!
What is your favorite thing about your career? The variety of work, no two days are the same.
Undergrad alma mater: UMass Amherst
Graduate alma mater: UMass Amherst
Degrees: Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting, Master of Science in Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Camp counselor
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: The Litigation Support & Business Valuation Committee meetings!
"My advice to students looking to go into the accounting industry is to understand that career opportunities are endless. I would also highlight that their knowledge of accounting is a foundational aspect that is important to any business and can take them almost anywhere." — Shanikwa Davis
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Network with as many professionals as you can to learn more about the industry and potential career paths!
What is your favorite thing about your career? Watching the people I've hired grow in their careers.
Undergrad alma mater: University of New Hampshire
Graduate alma mater: Suffolk University
Degrees: BA in Political Science and an MS in Human Resource Management
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Administrative Assistant at Rodman CPAs.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? There are many avenues you can take in the field of accounting. Determine your passions, whether it is helping a variety of businesses or a specific industry, there will be an accounting opportunity to pursue. Don't be afraid if you don't find the right fit straight away.
What is your favorite thing about your career? That I know I am making a positive impact. Accounting maybe "back of the house," but strong accounting is crucial for a business to succeed.
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: The committees- they provide access to timely information, discussions with peers as well as speakers, and provide networking opportunities.
Undergrad alma mater: Salem State Universtity
Degrees: "Associates of Science - Baking & Pastry Arts and Bachelor of Business Administration - Accounting"
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? I ran a butcher shop/bakery before getting my start in accounting. After being exposed to private accounting at a car dealership (Infiniti of Norwood), I went back to school for accounting. Upon graduation, I became an audit associate at CBIZ & MHM New England (CBIZ Tofias).
What initially interested you in accounting? I was intrigued in how it allowed me to utilize critical thinking and problem-solving skills to ensure business transactions were balanced and accounted for properly. Companies rely on accurate data to make strategic decisions that shape their business.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? The skills learned are foundational to understanding business, demand for the skills of CPAs is strong and that both the Society and the AICPA have tremendous resources and networks.
What is your favorite thing about your career? There's a misconception that being a CPA is a numbers business - it's a people business and a data-interpretation business. We help people make decisions by explaining the stories behind the numbers - love that about my career
Undergrad alma mater: UMass Amherst Isenberg
Degrees: BS in Business Admin, Major in Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? "Staff B" audit practice of Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), Manchester NH
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Networking
Anything else interesting about you that you would like for us to include? When I was Chair of MassCPAs, I sang the National Anthem at YP Celtics game. Bucket list item!!!
"When I took over my family retail business in Liberia, I wanted to do things differently in terms of developing a better financial reporting system. I applied what I had learned and seeing the positive impact it had on the family business, I decided to change course from studying science and physics to pursue a degree in accounting." — Sorie Kaba
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Learn to set boundaries early in your career.
What is your favorite thing about your career? I've tried out a number of different roles inside and outside accounting. For the first 18 years: external audit, internal audit, financial reporting, controllership, IT help desk manager, software project manager. Then I pursued my Master's degree so I could teach accounting at the college level. For the next 15 years, I taught at my alma maters, first Suffolk, then Merrimack. I'm now back in public accounting as an educator. The great thing about accounting is the variety; there are so many areas to explore and now, so many opportunities to create roles based on one's varied experiences.
Undergrad alma mater: Merrimack College
Graduate alma mater: Suffolk University
Degrees: BSBA/Accounting, Merrimack College, 1986 and an MSA, Suffolk University, 2005
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Part time: Audit Staff, Shaheen, Pallone and Associates; Full time: Audit Staff, Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC)
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: I love the Educational Foundation's scholarship program. I was a recipient of a scholarship when I was an undergraduate and it is now my pleasure to serve on the scholarship selection committee. It's wonderful to see so many dedicated, hard working students and be able to award them scholarships that may, literally, change their lives.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CPAs or student members? Start studying and sit for the CPA Exam as soon as possible while the textbook knowledge is fresh in your mind.
What is your favorite thing about your career? Building long lasting relationships with clients and co-workers.
Undergrad alma mater: Castleton University
Degrees: Bachelor of Science, Accounting
What was your first job/what has your career path looked like? Accountant for Rosen Valente & Willhaus, CPAs in 1997
Favorite MassCPAs benefit: Networking with the ladies in the Women in Accounting Braintree group.
Anything else interesting about you that you would like for us to include? Before graduating college, my first job was working at a Morgan horse farm in Vermont training and showing Morgan horses. I paid for my college education by working at the horse farm throughout my high school and college years.