Growing up CPA

Congrats to the 2017 CFO of the Year honorees

by Anne Janotta Erickson, MNCPA business and industry member coordinator | December 2017/January 2018 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated Nov. 28, 2017

Ask any kid what they want to be when they grow up, and they'll probably give you the standard astronaut/athlete/cowboy response.

Not much has changed. Just ask these nine MNCPA members who were recently named 2017 CFO of the Year honorees by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  

Ken Bauer

Dakota County CDA

As a kid, I wanted to be a zoologist like Marlin Perkins ("Wild Kingdom") or an architect like Mike Brady ("Brady Bunch").

I became a CPA because I liked the challenge of passing the CPA exam, and I felt the credential would be valuable in advancing my accounting career.

Tom Elmer

Colliers International | Minneapolis-St. Paul

As a kid, I remember the local library having these "So, you want to be a _____" books. I think I read every one of them as a kid. Maybe due to TV shows, I first thought I wanted to be an architect, but had no aptitude for it. Then, I switched my attention to a corporate lawyer.    

I became a CPA because of my mom. She was a bookkeeper and suggested that majoring in accounting -- and learning the language of business -- would be a good foundation for corporate law. An offer from Peat Marwick, and having no money for law school, pretty much sealed the deal.

Virginia Hines

Periscope, Inc.

As a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor or something in the medical field. It wasn't until I took an accounting class in high school that I realized I might like finance or accounting as a career.

Becoming a CPA was a decision I chose on my own. I grew up and worked through high school for a business my parents ran, which gave me the opportunity to see the interworking of a business and its finances. I got involved with payroll, inventory, sales and many other finance areas of the business. Both my parents had strong work ethics and instilled that in me at a very young age as well.

Tony Ishaug

Winmark Corporation

As a kid, I'd like to say that I always dreamed of being a big-league baseball player or a heroic firefighter. However, even as a kid, I was more pragmatic. I think I was destined to be involved in finance or accounting. Before I started school, I used to grab my mother's 10-Key and my parents' old check registers and balance them.

Becoming a CPA was a product of going through my college courses and realizing that a good way to get to where I wanted to be in corporate finance was to pay my dues in public accounting. Doing what it takes to earn and maintain the certification develops a solid foundation and contributes to the ability to be successful in financial areas outside of just accounting.

Curtis Klotz

Propel Nonprofits

As a kid, I wanted to be a cartographer. My mom subscribed to National Geographic and I hoarded the large, colorful, pullout maps that came in many of the issues.

I became a CPA by way of stepping in as the accidental bookkeeper for the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Montana. The foray into nonprofit finance was unplanned, but it didn't take long to see that I had an aptitude and growing interest. With the encouragement of our wonderful auditor, I went back to school to build the base of accounting knowledge I needed to take the CPA exam.

Dale Olson

The Smead Manufacturing Company, Inc.

As a kid, I wanted to have my own business.

I became a CPA because I thought that knowing accounting would be very useful if I had my own business. But after working in public accounting for a while, I really enjoyed it and decided to stick with it and become a CPA.   

Leota Pearson

Leota L. Pearson & Company, LLC

As a kid, I wanted to be a librarian because I loved reading and even set up a cataloging system with my books.

I became a CPA because I grew up in a family that stressed education, and passing the exam demonstrated knowledge in the field. Accounting was my favorite class in high school. I was a rare college freshman who arrived knowing my major. I got my CPA while in public accounting where I saw the benefits the CPA provided to become more involved in broader aspects of the business.

Ramya Rauf

YWCA Minneapolis

As a kid, I wanted to be a physician.

I became a CPA because it helped me to rise to the CFO role. When I moved to Minnesota 18 years ago, I was fully qualified as a chartered accountant. However, I soon realized my credentials were inadequate for an executive position here, despite the fact that I had 14 years of experience working for the Sri Lankan affiliate of an American multinational corporation, and seven years as the CFO reporting to the regional corporate office in Hong Kong.

Warren Zaccaro

Securian Financial Group, Inc.

As a kid, I wanted to be an FBI agent or the first left-handed catcher for the Boston Red Sox.

I became a CPA because of my parents. My father had a successful business career and my mother was a strong advocate for the benefits of higher education. (Despite graduating near the top of a very large high school class, she did not have the opportunity to attend college.) My older brother had gone the CPA route and enjoyed a career as a CFO. I guess, ultimately, it's just in my blood!