Spring CEO Column: Transitions

by Rich Jones, CPA, CGMA, President and CEO | May 03, 2016

Two years prior to her retirement last May 31st, Ann Young and I discussed the timing of her retirement in relation to mine. Ann wanted to ensure that her replacement had sufficient time to learn the job before I decided to retire. She understood the importance of succession planning and the importance of her role in supporting me as CEO. Fortunately for the WSCPA, her replacement, Helen Doty, has done an outstanding job in adding value as Manager of Governance and Human Resources.

Similarly, Rick Sweeney, recently retired Executive Director (E.D.) of the Washington State Board of Accountancy (WBOA), had the foresight to prepare his organization for his eventual retirement. He established a Deputy Director position and hired Jennifer Sciba several years ago with the knowledge that, as a gubernatorial appointee, the E.D. served at the pleasure of the Governor and could be asked to retire at any point. Rick wanted to make sure that whenever he retired the Board would have someone who could step in and keep things running until a new E.D. was hired. Our state requires that the Executive Director of the WBOA be a CPA--which Jennifer is not, so Rick knew she could not be his successor. At about the same time Rick hired Charles Satterlund as the Director of Investigations for the WBOA. I had the privilege of serving on the committee that selected Charles for that position and I remember one of the criteria we considered in filling the position was whether the candidate had the potential to grow into the E.D. position when Rick was ready to retire. I felt that Charles had that skillset, and was very pleased when Charles was appointed to the position upon Rick’s retirement. This was a classic example of thoughtful and effective succession planning.

Back at the WSCPA, Judy Love, Director of Advocacy, planned to retire in December 2014. She had been very successfully directing the Society’s government relations and advocacy work since I arrived at the WSCPA in May 2005 and had been working in the advocacy arena with my predecessor, Marcia Holland, before that. Although Judy trained me in the government relations area for almost a decade and made sure I was up to speed when she retired, I realized that the Society would need someone else to step into that role when I retired. The role seemed ideal for Kimberly Scott, who had been active in Olympia in lobbying for the Financial Literacy Public/Private Partnership initiative and enjoyed interacting with legislators. Before retiring, Judy started sharing her advocacy expertise with Kimberly, who has taken the lead like a pro on our legislative successes during the past two years.

I have talked with the WSCPA management team and Board of Directors for the past 2+ years about my plans for retirement. A year ago I signed my final employment contract for two years ending May 31, 2017. The Board and I had been planning for this for some time, so this was not a surprise. It has not been a secret during this time, but we also did not see much purpose in making an announcement so far in advance of my actual retirement date. There is some personal hesitancy to have to admit that at some point you have to hang up your cleats, just like Marshawn Lynch recently did.

The WSCPA is well positioned to make this transition. The management team has strong leadership and talent in each of our key areas (Education, Communication, Advocacy, Finance, Membership, Professional Standards, and Human Resources) and each of these people has taken on new responsibilities over the past two years with great success. As a team we have been planning for these changes and are well prepared.

Bill Simer, our current Board Chair, and Dave Miniken, Vice Chair, will co-chair a Selection Committee to recommend the next President and CEO to the WSCPA Board of Directors. Together they will appoint the selection committee, which will include diverse representatives from the Society’s membership, and direct its activities. Additional details about the search will be shared as they are available. The goal is to have a new CEO in place before I retire on May 31, 2017. I expect many qualified internal and external candidates to apply, and I am certain that the Society will have an exceptional President and CEO to lead us into the future.

I am certain I will have additional opportunities to express how much I have enjoyed my time with the WSCPA and what an honor it has been to represent and lead this organization. It will forever be the highlight of my professional career.

Rich JonesRich Jones, CPA, CGMA, President and CEO

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