IPA Spotlight on…Peggy Dzierzawski, Michigan Association of CPAs

Peggy Dzierzawski

Peggy Dzierzawski

Name: Peggy A. Dzierzawski

Title: President and CEO

Association Name: Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)

What is your association’s No. 1 challenge and how are you tackling it?

Our biggest challenge is recruitment, especially among young professionals. We know they are not as apt to join associations, but we have a vision and are taking action. We know young people need to feel a sense of community involvement, and we have to show them the many opportunities membership provides. We are also working with our Emerging Leaders Task Force to better understand what is relevant to young professionals and how we can help them achieve their goals. For example, we know it’s important to get new members involved right away in association activities. Through these efforts, we are growing our ranks of CPA candidates and new CPAs, which is especially important with so many baby boomers retiring.

How are you attracting young people to join the state society?

We connect with young people through our annual statewide high school leaders conferences. These events show hundreds of students, including a significant number of minorities, what it’s really like to be a CPA and how many incredible opportunities exist within the field. Then we stay with them through their college years, offering free membership and access to special events where they learn from working professionals and get updates on the profession. We have strong relationships with accounting professors and often make presentations on campuses across the state. This helps us promote the CPA credential and show students how the MICPA can help them throughout their career. We also offer an annual career fair that brings together small and mid-size firms with students from across the state to discuss internships and full-time positions. Threaded through all our activities is a deep commitment to promoting diversity within the profession. Led by our diversity task force, these efforts center on attracting underrepresented minorities to the profession.

Just MICPA blue and blackWhat are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about how well positioned we are for the future. Our executive committee, our board, our members and our staff always have an eye on the future. They have the vision and passion to ensure we will be successful in finding new ways to enhance the image of CPAs and their value to society. I’m so proud of their strength and commitment.

How are you changing your trainings to fit the needs of your membership?

There’s no doubt educational needs are changing, and we are listening and taking action. We have created a chief knowledge officer position dedicated to understanding the changing educational needs of our members. We partner with other providers to offer thousands of on-demand and webinar courses. In-person offerings have more case studies and interactivity to promote engagement and better learning. We talk with our members via focus groups and surveys to determine what information they are interested in and how they want to learn. We know one size does not fit all, and we are tailoring our offerings to those in industry, public accounting, non-profit, government and education. We also tailor learning for different age groups and levels of experience from new CPAs to seasoned veterans.

We offer professionals a CPE tracker that can be used to electronically submit educational requirements to the state of Michigan and renew their licenses. MICPA courses are guaranteed to qualify and are automatically entered into registrants’ personalized trackers.

As we look to the future, we may have opportunities to provide education to non-CPAs, so we are considering what that might look like. All these actions take strong leadership and a commitment to enhancing our own skill sets.

Which leadership qualities best ensure success in accounting?

Success in accounting goes far beyond technical skills. Today’s leaders are highly educated, critical thinkers and can offer guidance across all areas of business. They need to be analytical, flexible, consultative and of course ethical. CPAs exemplify these qualities, which makes them leaders not only in their businesses but in their communities.

Final thoughts?

I never in a million years would have thought I’d be working at the MICPA for 40-plus years, but I couldn’t feel luckier. I always say if you work for an association, you’ve truly done something right in your life.

Know someone else who’d make a good Spotlight? Contact Christina Camara.