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How important are mentors
and role models to women lead-
ers in the accounting profession?
To the Connecticut female leaders we
interviewed, mentoring is extremely im-
portant, and many provided examples
of how their mentoring relationships
enhanced their development in the ear-
ly, middle, and later career years.
Ziegler: "From a professional men-
toring perspective, one of my favorite
mentors was a senior partner in the
Stamford office. He gave me the con-
structive feedback that I needed. It
was constructive and timely `straight
talk,' without any fluff around the edg-
es. At first it was very uncomfortable
because throughout my career, I had
received positive feedback and wasn't
used to getting constructive feedback.
I learned that's what I really needed,
though, and after that I sought out ad-
ditional mentors who would give con-
structive and timely straight talk."
Wills: "It's great to not only have men-
tors within our firm, but also to have
mentors and role models at our clients
women you can look up to because
they portray such a positive image. I
have two large nonprofit clients whose
CEOs are vibrant, `go-getter' women
who have gone far and will continue
to go far. They are perfect role mod-
els for our female staff and managers,
and I encourage my staff to interact
with them directly. This is an excellent
opportunity for our future women lead-
ers to learn from successful women.
Throughout my career, partners and
managers mentored me, recognizing
the value I could provide and my desire
to pursue a public accounting career.
These mentors were very instrumental
to my career."
Martinelli: "A key factor in my success
has been to surround myself with good
people. I've always been success-
ful because I've had people that have
helped me along the way mentors,
champions, and `personal promoters.'
People who have advised, looked out
for, and guided me, and I think that's
critical to anyone's career. Over the
years, there have been coworkers and
clients who have given me advice re-
lated to my career and children, what
made them successful, and how they
integrate a career and family."
Caporale: "I think the best advice is,
in addition to having mentors, it is ex-
tremely important for women to have
sponsors who are highly respected in
the organization professionals who
truly look out for opportunities for
them, so that they can showcase their
skills and abilities. Having many men-
tors is beneficial, but it was instrumen-
tal to have a sponsor who was at the
table waving a flag for me, finding op-
portunities for me, allowing me to grow
and `do what I do.' I always tell young-
er women in the accounting profes-
sion, `You need to look for sponsors
for people who are going to support
you, `pound the table' for you, and who
will always have your best interests in
How is female leadership in
action at the CTCPA?
Bonnie Stewart,
executive director of
the CTCPA: "It's an
exciting time to be a
female CPA. We're
thrilled that the in-
coming generation
has so many strong female role mod-
els serving in the CTCPA leadership
ranks on our Board, Advisory Council,
and interest groups. In recent years
our presidents have included several
women who have been trailblazers in
their fields from leadership at their
own organizations to public service on
regulatory bodies like the Connecti-
cut State Board of Accountancy. They
have acted as ambassadors of the
profession, providing testimony before
the Connecticut General Assembly
and educating the public and business
community on everything from per-
sonal finance to the Connecticut bud-
get and economy. President-elect Sue
Martinelli takes office as president this
spring, continuing this legacy."
"You need to look for
sponsors for people who
are going to support you,
`pound the table' for you,
and who will always have
your best interests in mind."
Amelia Caporale, EY
Joe Tarasco co-founded the Accoun-
tants Advisory Group, LLC to assist
the leaders of today's public account-
ing firms in structuring and managing
their practices to increase profitabil-
ity, maximize value, and achieve long-
term success by consulting in all areas
of firm practice management, includ-
ing succession and strategic planning,
firm governance, mergers and acqui-
sitions, partner compensation struc-
ture, practice development, facilitating
partner retreats, and leadership con-
sulting. Joe was selected as a "Top 10
Most Recommended Consultants" by
INSIDE Public Accounting in 2017. He
can be reached at 845-265-9046 or
Nancy A. Damato is the co-founder
and president of Accountants Advi-
sory Group and the senior consultant,
marketing and business development.
Nancy has 30 years of accounting
firm marketing experience, including
marketing leadership positions with
two Big 4 firms, a large national firm,
and a medium-size regional firm, and
in marketing advisory roles with many
firms of various sizes. She can be
reached at 845-265-9046 or nancy@