A Training Ground for Volunteers

by Kathleen Hoffelder, content editor, NJCPA – November 22, 2017
A Training Ground for Volunteers
Accounting firms can sometimes be reluctant to let their employees leave the office for non-client meetings, but if there’s a chance to educate a student about entering accounting or inform a young professional of the benefits of obtaining their CPA license, Deloitte is all in. 

That’s because Deloitte has a culture in which volunteering is valued as much as client service. Whether it’s helping the next generation or current staff, it takes pride in knowing it is furthering the profession. For example, Deloitte holds its own membership drive to make sure all of its staff are taking advantage of what an NJCPA membership has to offer. In the past 10 weeks, they recruited 41 new NJCPA members.

Its professionals also represent almost 40 percent of the 110 NJCPA volunteers currently working as CPA Career Awareness presenters, where members speak at high schools about the accounting profession, their personal experiences and what sort of jobs are available in accounting. The presentations encourage students to explore careers in accounting and apply for NJCPA scholarships.

“This couldn’t be done without our professionals wanting to make an impact in the community and taking time out of their busy work schedules to give back,” explains Karen Lee, CPA, audit and assurance manager at Deloitte, noting that presenters come from all departments of the firm, such as audit, advisory, tax and leadership. Deloitte coordinated 36 presentations last year, of which four high school students received NJCPA scholarships. At press time, Deloitte has broken its presentation record from last fall.  

Deloitte professionals are also involved in the NJCPA’s Student Programs and Scholarship Committee as well as the Emerging Leaders Council, which is an appointed leadership group that addresses the needs of members with up to 10 years of experience (formerly the Young CPAs Council) as well as numerous other interest group roles.

Encouraging young professionals to go into accounting, and stay in accounting, is high on their list, according to Lee. “It’s important to give back to the next generation of CPAs in order to provide opportunities to skilled and talented individuals who could utilize their unique backgrounds and perspectives to add value to the accounting profession.” 

To Joseph McGrath, CPA, audit and assurance senior manager at Deloitte, volunteering is an outlet to explain all of the interesting parts of his job that these students may not normally hear. “Accounting and being a CPA is not just a desk job and is not boring. No two days of mine are alike, and I like to share that the profession has afforded me the chance to travel to places such as Germany, Switzerland, and India, for example, and I have many opportunities to work directly with Deloitte senior leadership.”

“The NJCPA gives me an avenue to share my experiences,” he adds. When discussing the profession with students, he says, “the CPA exam doesn’t come across as being exciting.” But he makes them aware that as a CPA, you are a trusted advisor in the profession and at a very young age have the opportunity to work with the company’s senior leaders, giving you the opportunity to make an impact and leave your mark.  

Two Way Street

Volunteering is often as much help to those who donate their time as those who are receiving the help. Young Deloitte professionals who may need a jump start when it comes to presenting and speaking in public often can get their feet wet at NJCPA events, says McGrath. To him, volunteering “is a training ground for young professionals to go out and network, and this is something that Deloitte fully supports.”

Lee agrees. “My involvement with the NJCPA Emerging Leaders Council has led me to make connections with Deloitte colleagues and firm leaders while advancing the livelihood of our profession. I have also met professionals outside of Deloitte in a variety of industries,” she says.

The NJCPA Food Drive is a good example. Deloitte supports the Food Drive in two ways: 1) by sending professionals to support the annual NJCPA Volunteer Night at the Community FoodBank, and 2) by collecting food and monetary donations. The firm’s Parsippany, Princeton and Jersey City offices act as collection sites during the food drive along with other firms and companies around the state. All of the food and monetary donations collected benefit the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. In 2016, Lee and her coworkers were able to present the FoodBank with an $1,800 check. “Support from the New Jersey practice has been instrumental in not only encouraging its professionals to be involved in the community, but providing them with the resources to make the greatest impact,” she says.