Donny Shimamoto Wins AICPA's Maximo Mukelabai Award

By Christina Camara

As baby boomer partners begin retiring from the accounting profession, doors are opening wide for a new generation of CPAs. With hard work, exceptional service to clients, and demonstrated leadership skills, young professionals can maintain the excellent reputation that accountants now enjoy.
So says Donny Shimamoto, the Honolulu CPA who will receive the first Maximo Mukelabai award at the AICPA E.D.G.E. Conference in Orlando August 8-10. He is being recognized for his volunteer work with the organization, where he has dedicated his efforts to building the CPA pipeline and leading its IT Executive Committee. To get students interested in the field, he believes the profession should stress the diversity of options available. 
"They need to know that it is not about just bookkeeping and the numbers," says Shimamoto. "There are a number of CPA specialists, like myself, who go beyond the numbers." Shimamoto is founder and managing director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC in Honolulu. IT security and fraud are "hot topics," he said, and a CPA's analytical skills can not only provide insights into the data, but "assurance" about the quality of the data. "Accounting and internal controls are a base that they can take to go practically anywhere."
Shimamoto said he is proud of his efforts to provide opportunities for younger professionals to get involved in the AICPA. When he first got involved, he said he was the youngest on some committees by at least fifteen years. Shimamoto is a member of the AICPA's governing council, Assurance Services Executive Committee, and he served on the CPA Horizons 2025 Advisory Panel. "Now, there are often two to three 'young CPAs' on committees with me."
Shimamoto and Mukelabai, for whom the award is named, were part of the inaugural class of the AICPA Leadership Academy, and both shared a desire to increase diversity within the profession. Mukelabai died last summer at thirty-six.
"One of my early discussions with Max was that as some of the first representatives of our age group to be involved in leadership roles with the AICPA, it is our job to show the AICPA staff and other volunteers that there is value in having a young CPA on their committees - thereby opening the door for other young CPAs to get involved."
Shimomoto is now halfway through his first year as chair of the IT Executive Committee and is focusing on building structured processes and strategic direction for the group, which can help CPAs get ahead of the technological changes ahead. "With the increasing ubiquity of technology in the workplace, I believe that the IT specialist skill set is going to slowly become part of the CPA baseline - at least in audit and business and industry. We have already seen hints of this with the CPA Horizons 2025 study and the direction of the CGMA credential."
Shimamoto is a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and the first Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) in the state of Hawaii.
Shimamoto thanked the AICPA for providing volunteer opportunities to "this little guy from a small island in the middle of the Pacific." He added, "Whether from big cities or rural areas, no matter the ethnic background, from any educational background - I am a public school graduate from elementary school through college - I hope that my involvement and example will enable all upcoming CPAs to see that with enough hard work and a willingness to volunteer, they too can take charge of their careers and make a difference for the future of our profession."
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