A Conversation With Daryl Hill: From the classroom to the boardroom

You've got to like a guy who shows up at work every day with a smile on his face. Even after 20 years at the helm of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs, Daryl Hill still loves his job, and a big part of that is the staff and members that surround him. "I have a great staff and I get to work with wonderful CPAs as volunteer leaders who want the best for the accounting profession and are willing to devote their time and expertise to help us make the OSCPA an organization to which members are proud to belong."

Chances are, when he began his college career, he didn't envision being the head of a professional organization for accountants. Actually, his first career was in the classroom. He started with a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Mayville State University in his home state of North Dakota. After that, he earned what he calls an "all-but" degree at North Dakota State University. That is, he did all the work necessary to qualify for a master's degree in education administration
except the thesis, so in the interest of full disclosure he calls it an "all-but master's degree."

Next came 11 years as an educator and school principal. Then he used his well-honed administrative skills to become the executive director of the North Dakota Society of CPAs and the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy. Eight years later, in 1988, he was tapped to be the executive director of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs.

If you ask how he got to this point in his career, he'll admit...he's made his share of mistakes like everyone else. But, he jokes...he's not about to name those errors. After all, it's more productive to focus on what has worked. "The biggest lesson to learn from any mistake is to not make the same mistake again," he says. That's a good philosophy. But, he says, nothing has helped him as much as developing the ability to adapt to change. And at the OSCPA, change of leadership is frequent. Every year, a new volunteer is installed as president of the society and of course, each one has his or her own style and expectations. As executive director, Hill has to be flexible to accommodate the new president's style and guide the staff in implementing the new board's agenda.

The OSCPA has a staff of 17, plus one intern, and a combined membership of about 6,500 CPAs, associates, and students. While that might not seem large by some standards, it does include about 75 percent of all eligible CPAs in Oklahoma. That must mean they are doing something right, like their concentration on recruiting student and associate members, and their efforts to increase the benefits and services they offer.

More specifically, the direction that Hill continues to push for includes three key goals:

  • To be the organization that members, the general public, and the media will turn to for assistance and questions regarding profession-related issues.
  • To develop the technological resources available to make communication with members faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective.
  • To have ongoing development of the efficient and friendly staff that members feel comfortable with and enjoy ease of communication with.
  • Besides providing overall leadership, Hill serves as the staff liaison for several committees, including Professional Ethics, Insurance, Political Action, Nominations and Planning, as well as the Liaison with the Oklahoma Accountancy Board Committee.

    His list of credits is long, as he continues his own professional development. He is a graduate of the National Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management. He has also earned the designation of Certified Association Executive from the American Society of Association Executives. He is a past president of the national organization Certified Public Accountants/Society Executives Association, as well as past president of the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives (OSAE). In 2004, OSAE awarded him the organization's highest honor, the George Nigh Association Executive of the Year. And earlier this year, he was awarded the Oklahoma Society of CPAs most prestigious honor, induction into the Oklahoma Accounting Hall of Fame. This honor has been given to only one other non-CPA in the history of the award.

    With so much recognition from outside the OSCPA, it should come as no surprise that within his own organization, Hill is also well-respected. Director of Communications Amy Welch says, "Although I've only worked for Daryl for about five years - which, compared to the rest of the staff, is a relatively short time - I have enjoyed it more than any other job I've had. It's more pressure and more stress, but it's the good kind that keeps you motivated. The best part about working for Daryl is his concern for his staff. Of course he cares about your education and professional development, but he also genuinely cares about his staff and their personal happiness."

    The Other Side of Daryl Hill

    With all the hours he must put into fulfilling his many roles at the OSCPA, it doesn't seem like there would be much time left for anything else. But the truth is, Hill is a dedicated family man. He and his wife of 41 years share four children and five grandchildren... and they put a premium on spending time together. Hill loves a good book - detective or mystery, mainly - a good thriller movie or a comedy, all kinds of music, and he's a fan of most sports, but especially college basketball. Weather permitting, he enjoys being out on the water either fishing or boating.

    Yeah, it's a tough life when you're the respected head of a high-quality organization like the OSCPA, as well as a well-rounded family man at home. But Hill is up to the challenge. When life at home is good and life at work is good too, it's no wonder that Daryl Hill shows up at the office every day with a smile on his face.

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