IPA Spotlight On … Jennifer Briggs, Indiana CPA Society

Name: Jennifer B. Briggs

Jennifer B. Briggs

Jennifer B. Briggs

Title: President and CEO

Association: Indiana CPA Society

Accomplishments:

  • 25 years of association management experience, with state and national organizations and at an association management and lobbying firm
  • Chair of Interchange 2018, a conference for the AICPA and State CPA Societies and one of my all-time favorite educational events
  • Not my accomplishment, but a team accomplishment this year was managing the launch of a new logo and improved website, all while preparing to move our office this summer and developing two new leadership programs.

As only the fifth CEO in the Indiana CPA Society’s 103-year history who replaced a 33-year veteran, do you feel a special responsibility in taking on the top job?

Absolutely! It’s a great privilege to work in an organization with a long history, and it involves a balancing act of honoring the past, delivering value in the present and leading the organization to the best possible future. My predecessors were all with the Society for a long time and developed extensive relationships. Having already been here for 16 years I feel fortunate to continue that tradition and am grateful for the many members I’ve known who have helped inspire my work over the years.

You’ve held numerous positions at the society, beginning in 2002 as a special projects manager. Has the variety of experiences within the society helped you in preparing for your new role as CEO?

No question. Having served in membership, communications and professional development positions here, I have a broad view of the Society and a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges the leaders in those areas face. Having said that, I tend to be the type of person who is very open to new things, so I try not to rely on past experience – even here at the Society – as a gauge for what will work in the future, it’s simply nice to have reference points.

Progressive leaders are focused on re-imagining and challenging the status quo. How does “remaining relevant” play a role in your planning for your 8,000+ members of the Indiana CPA Society?

We think about it every day. With INCPAS 2025 we have set “4 Bold Challenges” to ensure our relevance and to maintain the CPA brand. Our bold challenges encompass diversity, both in the profession and among our members, and ensuring our members are trusted business resources and advocates. We also are focusing on competency-based education through the Society and our subsidiary organization the CPA Center of Excellence®. Bringing the latest information to our members and engaging them in meaningful ways related to innovation and technology is paramount to our continued relevance. The changes coming to the profession due to AI, robotics and machine learning are real – it’s an exciting time.

Can you give me some examples of firms that have done something innovative and proactive to help clients?

Kruggel Lawton has done incredible work on their internal teams using CPA Center of Excellence® courses on core skills like communication and leadership and our insight assessment tool. This has translated into better internal relationships, improved goal-setting and stronger client relationships. Summit CPA Group is changing the traditional business model with an entirely virtual team offering outsourced CFO services. We recently created an INCPAS Innovation Award so we can recognize those firms and companies that are doing great things – Summit CPA Group won the award last year.

Final thoughts?

As automation advances, CPAs will need to consider next-level services they can provide. There is a huge opportunity here. People skills will never be obsolete (in conjunction with understanding the technical issues behind the automation) and I’m a firm believer that core competencies can be taught and improved upon. Not everyone will have the same strengths, but we also can’t wait to find the ‘born leaders’ – the profession can do a better job developing them.