Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Next-generation CPA leaders chime in on the future


Remember the MACPA's Leadership Academy? That group of 40 young professionals who gathered in September to learn a bit about leadership and drafted a blueprint for the future of the 

They've put that blueprint into words.

It's in the form of a new white paper titled, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There: Maryland's Young CPAs Create a Vision of the Profession's Future," and it's a pretty remarkable piece of work.

It comes on the heels of the profession’s CPA Horizons 2025 project, which leveraged input from CPAs, regulators, thought leaders and futurists to identify key trends and map what the profession will look like in 2025.

The MACPA’s Leadership Academy took that report a step further. Using the trends identified in the Horizons work as a foundation, participants mapped those trends and corresponding opportunities from a future CPA leader’s point of view. Then, they dove deep with action plans, timelines and desired results for each of those opportunities.

Their conclusions?

With the pace of change and complexity on the rise, CPAs must become more global-minded, proactive, future-focused, balanced, and tech-savvy to maintain their competitive edge.

Getting there, they say, will require a brand new set of skills and characteristics. Among them: Unity and flexibility, the ability to collaborate and crowdsource, a mind shift from history to possibility, and a new tech-focused mindset.

In short, it's not your parents' CPA profession.

The hard part with any visioning project, of course, is that the future is a moving target. As soon as you set your sights, some unforeseen shift -- what leadership guru Emmanuel Gobillot would call "clear-air turbulence" -- knocks you and your best-laid plans for a loop.

The Leadership Academy folks, though, took that into account. Part of their learning centered on the notion of strategic thinking, which, according to the white paper, is "the ability to think strategically all of the time –- to be nimble enough to alter your course in mid-stride to navigate an ever-changing landscape."

Given the rate of change and complexity today, that's a skill we're all going to need going forward.

“There have been a lot of questions swirling about the next generation of business leaders. Topping the list is, ‘Are they ready to lead?’” said MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood. “Our Leadership Academy provides the answer: Not only are they ready to lead, they’re hungry to lead, and this white paper is their starting point.”

Here's my point: The folks with seniority aren't the only ones thinking about the future. Our Leadership Academy proves that. After all, the younger you are, the more future you'll have to deal with, right?

So give it up for tomorrow's leaders. They're more ready to lead than we think they are.


Bill Sheridan