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Let's get started, as I can only guess
what the collective billable time in
this room is running right now...
All three CPAs:
Zero! [laughter]
When did you first develop a formal
plan for firm leadership succession?
In the early 1980s, when we began,
Bernie Blum was managing partner.
When Bernie stepped down in 1986,
our executive committee selected
three partners for consideration, but
the two other partners told me I had
their support, so we never really had
an election. No contested conven-
tion, no smoke-filled room. [laughter]
The formal plan was an election every
two years.
And you were re-elected for a total
of 16 years...
In my 15th year, Carl had been COO for
two years, and we were getting larger.
It was a natural progression for him to
become managing partner.
When David initially took over, the pro-
cess was somewhat informal, but with
Carl a much more strategic approach
was taken. Carl was asked to serve
in several leadership roles prior to as-
suming the role of managing partner.
This enabled Carl to gain insight and
experience while at the same time al-
lowing the organization the opportunity
to evaluate his qualifications.
Could people self-nominate for
managing partner?
Yes ... we didn't have email back then,
you raised your hand. [laughter]
Today, we encourage self-nomination
to make sure the individual coming
forward has that commitment to the
firm. And we want to make sure that
the managing partner's roles and re-
sponsibilities are well-documented
and well-understood by those throw-
ing their hats in the ring.
Succession planning is a critical issue in public accounting firm ad-
ministration today. Some put it on their "We'll get to that ..." list,
but at a large firm, that approach just won't do.
On January 1, 2016, Joseph Kask took over as the fourth managing
partner of BlumShapiro, the largest locally based firm in New Eng-
land, with more than 400 people in six offices across three states
billing $72 million annually. Recently, we spent an hour with not only
Joe but with his two immediate predecessors, Carl Johnson and
David Rosenthal, to discuss their succession process. The follow-
ing are excerpts from our conversation.
Putting the Success in
Succession Planning
By Mark Zampino, Publisher
Joseph A. Kask
Firm Managing Partner elected 2016
Carl R. Johnson
Firm Managing Partner 2001-2015
David B. Rosenthal
Firm Managing Partner 1986-2001