Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rock star of accounting coaches Kelley students on the future

Kelley students in professor Terry Campbell’s International Financial Reporting Standards class got to learn from the nation’s top accounting executive recently.

Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, took questions for more than an hour and a half from the students, who were participating in a one-week intensive “boot camp” to learn more about impending changes in financial reporting.

Melancon said this is a great time for Kelley accounting graduates, who are prepared for the transition from a rules-based system to a principles-based system.

“I always say to young people entering the profession, the time you want to enter the profession is at the most significant point of change,” he said, explaining that the last two generations of accountants in the U.S. have been trained in rules-based financial reporting and will have to relearn their profession in some ways. “Your gap is closed.”

Campbell said Melancon reinforced some key principles in response to questions where
integrity, independence, objectivity and professional skepticism are the appropriate and needed behaviors.

Melancon also encouraged students to develop knowledge and skills in other disciplines, including world politics, the sciences, world history and communications.

“When you leave this campus, you need to have the confidence that you can handle yourself in any situation.”

He said Kelley boot camp students are uniquely positioned to do just that.

“A person who has been through this program – this single program – you ought to have so much confidence in what you can do,” he said. “You have been exposed just this week to more than 99.999 percent of the people in this world who are going to be somewhere related to professional accountancy.”

Jaclyn Geary, who is working toward her MBA in accounting in Kelley’s 3/2 program, said Melancon’s advice about confidence came at the right time.

“That’s something I feel like I’m lacking a little bit,” said the fifth-year student who has completed half of the four-part CPA exam. “I’m on the verge, so that was important.”

Melancon travels about two-thirds of the year and visits only a handful of universities during that time.

“Most, if not all, of our graduate accounting students will become CPAs,” Campbell said. “Having access to the president of the AICPA for questions and answers prior to becoming a CPA provided a window on the breadth and depth of the accounting profession.”

Student Derek Johnson agreed.

“He brings a lot of experience and insight that we students don’t have,” said the fifth-year MBA in accounting student. “I really enjoyed that and getting his opinion as well as his political experience in how things get done. He just understands the process.”

Guest blog entry provided by Jeni Donlon.

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