On Friday, May 5, 2017 IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and Pace University hosted the sixth event in the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series at Rice University in Houston, Texas. This event had the highest number of attendees to date with nearly 150 women present from various industries and companies including Schlumberger, Shell, GE, and more.

The goal of the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series is to provide a forum for women in accounting and finance to share ideas on leadership development and strategies for success. Sandra Richtermeyer, CMA, CPA, Ph.D., dean of the Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts Lowell and former Chair of IMA opened the day with her session, “The Role Women Play in Driving Business Performance.” Richtermeyer discussed topics such as current employment trends, gender pay gap, talent pipeline, job satisfaction, and work/life balance. One notable statistic from this presentation was in 2016 only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women. After Richtermeyer’s eye-opening presentation, participants were able to have an interactive discussion focusing on the key barriers to leadership growth for women in accounting and finance.

Following Richtermeyer’s presentation, Mary Mazzella, supervising project manager, FASB, presented “Accounting Update” and provided an overview of major standards including leases, accounting for financial instruments, and revenue recognition. Next, Leslie Seidman, executive director, Center for Excellence in Financial Reporting, Lubin School of Business, Pace University moderated a candid conversation with Denise Castillo-Rhodes, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Texas Medical Center during “A CFO’s Career Journey.” Castillo-Rhodes shared her thoughts on the importance of networking and explained how as a self-proclaimed introvert she has been able to get out of her comfort zone and make meaningful connections to help advance her career. One important tip she shared is that professionals need to be their own advocates in advancing their careers and can’t expect their bosses to know they are ready to take on a new role or responsibilities.

The closing session was a panel discussion titled, “Strategies for Professional Success.” Moderated by Richtermeyer, the two panelists, Loreal Jiles, financial reporting manager, BP; and Shyamli Mohamed, CMA, director of tax, Halliburton, shared their experiences in accounting and finance positions. They discussed the challenges of balancing a career with family and personal responsibilities. A key takeaway from this discussion is to determine your priorities in your life and make sure you stay focused on those priorities whether it be within your career or personal life.

Attendees of this event were at different stages of their careers from students to CFOs. The majority of the women present were local to the Houston area but there were attendees from other states including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana and one international guest from Pakistan. This diverse group led to many meaningful and inspiring conversations and the women were encouraged to make new connections throughout the event.

To see pictures from the event, please visit IMA’s Facebook page. Women IMA members are invited to attend the next event in the Women’s Accounting Leadership Series which will take place on Friday, October 27, 2017 at Pace University in New York City. If you are interested in attending or learning more about future Women’s Accounting Leadership Series events, email womensleadership@imanet.org.