AICPA debuts E.D.G.E. conference for future CPA leaders

By Deanna C. White

The newest generation of CPA leaders will have the chance to hone both their professional skills and personal growth this summer when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) hosts its inaugural E.D.G.E. – Sharpening the Next Generation of CPAs, conference August 10 through August 12 in New Orleans.
The three day event, created by alumni of the AICPA's Leadership Academy, is the first of the organization's conferences targeted specifically to emerging practitioners with 5 to 15 years experience in public accounting and business and industry.
"We wanted to provide an opportunity for newer practitioners who haven't reached the top of their career ladder yet, but are growing into those roles," said Allison Harrell, CPA, conference chair and senior audit manager, Thomas Howell Ferguson, P.A. "The E.D.G.E. Conference is designed to give them forward thinking sessions on technical issues as well as the soft skills they need to advance their careers."
In addition to technical sessions like Gaining Audit Efficiency and Insight through Data Risk and Analysis, attendees will learn how to refine their leadership skills, maintain their personal brand, develop the tools to start their own firm, and navigate the latest technology trends.
Byron Patrick, CPA and cofounder/CEO of the technology firm Simplified Innovations Inc. in Baltimore, MD, will host "Operating the Virtual Office," a seminar aimed at teaching people who are working beyond the cubicle about the latest technology available to them.
"We have a lot of people in the industry now who are either working from home or working from a satellite office, and, because they don't know what technology tools are available to them, they are not as efficient as they could be," Patrick said. "We want to teach them about programs like Skype and GoToMeeting so that they can be as effective as they can be."
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of this conference however, according to organizers and attendees, is the emphasis on the person behind the profession. In order to advance to the highest levels in their career, Harrell said, business professionals need to focus not only on technical issues like audit tax laws, but life skills like time management, balancing work with life outside the office, and leadership skills.
Some of these personal development seminars include Time Management: The Big Lie, Managing from the Middle, and Work/Life Balance.
Future conference attendee Gregory Bedard, director of financial reporting and analysis for the Prudential Financial Network in Newark, NJ, said as a relatively new manager in his firm, the E.D.G.E. conference's emphasis on "forward –thinking issues," like corporate sustainability and skill sets for new leaders, appealed to him.
"As someone who is in this new role I need to learn everything I can to learn to succeed and a number of these workshops hit on making the transition to leader," Bedard said.
Teela Hammond, a three year CPA and manager with the accounting firm of Barnard Vogler CPAs in Reno, NV, said the emphasis on issues critical to young accountants – personal growth and development, people skills for new managers and personal branding – spurred her to attend the conference.
"Seminars on how to best manage your time and how to succeed without crashing and burning, which is typical in many younger CPAs… these are things you don't get in most conferences," Hammond said. "It just says to people you're not alone in the issues you face and you can learn how to thrive in this profession and be happy."
The E.D.G.E. Conference will be held from August 10 to August 12 at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. The cost is $695 for AICPA member, $995 for non-members, which is the early-bird price expiring July 22.

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