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Kathy Watts 2018 Most Powerful Women in Accounting

Kathy Watts, CPA, CHC
2018 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Partner - Horne, LLP

What advice would you give to female college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?

The accounting profession offers so many avenues for success in industry and in public accounting. The sky is the limit; give it your all. Don’t put yourself in a “traditional box” and don’t only view yourself as a woman, but as a successful professional with many dimensions. Women sometimes limit themselves. If you see your career as unlimited and take ownership of achieving your success, you can go as far as you choose to go.

What would you suggest to accounting firms that are interested in retaining and advancing more qualified female staff?

Be intentional in identifying and growing female talent. Don’t make assumptions that a female may not want an opportunity due to personal responsibilities. Offer opportunities based on skills and experience and allow females to choose their own path. Consider a sponsorship and advocacy program to elevate up-and-coming individuals. Sponsorship is the single largest difference in experience between those in the majority populations of leadership and those who are not. Sponsorship happens less often with diverse populations and women in public accounting due to the complexities of affinity bias and often unconscious tendencies of human beings to sponsor those that remind us of ourselves.

Why did you choose to work in – and stay in – the accounting field?

I chose accounting because my father is a CPA and former CFO. I found public accounting to be invigorating. It is a challenging career – never dull. It isn’t about the numbers; it is about helping clients achieve their dreams and reach success.

What are you currently reading?

The Anticipatory Organization by Daniel Burrus

Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Freidman

Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent, and Ron Hall

What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession in the near future (3-5 years)?

I believe there will be major disruption in our profession. Our roles are changing. Technology advancements into the realm of machine learning and artificial intelligence are beginning to impact every industry including ours. Our clients will need different services. The way we provide those new services won’t look anything like the work we do today. Accounting as we know it will be totally different. As a result, we must become excellent at the “human” side of accounting—seeing and sharing the insights, anticipating the future, and helping to define what’s possible.

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

I see myself developing creative ways to help clients succeed in this period of disruption. Helping clients find their way in the “new normal” will allow me to define new services and new ways of serving within the accounting profession. I also am passionate about helping more women reach their full potential and achieve their definition of success within the profession. True change happens one person at a time. I want to touch as many people as possible to impact the tidal wave of change.

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