D. Scott Showalter Lends Advice to Colleges and Future CPAs

In addition to being chair of the NCACPA Board of Directors, D. Scott Showalter, CPA, CGMA, is a professor and the director of the Master of Accounting program at North Carolina State University. He’s the kind of professor who holds a waiting list larger than his class size, and the one you go back and thank when you land your first job. Scott Showalter is an idol to current and future CPAs.

Fortunately, you don’t have to attend his lectures to reap the benefits of his guidance. In an article recently published by the Journal of Accountancy, D. Scott Showalter reflects on students’ responses to what they’re most passionate about—and lends some personal advice to those interested in becoming CPAs.

By Lea Hart

‘I ask students what they are passionate about …’

Developments in Sustainability

Sustainability currently impacts all types of organizations and individuals. From the federal government perspective, the fiscal condition of the federal government is not sustainable. If you doubt this statement, I refer you to the financial statements of the federal government where the annual report states the current fiscal condition of the federal government is not sustainable. Reporting on fiscal sustainability is a required disclosure by [FASAB]. This lack of fiscal sustainability will impact businesses, governments at all levels, and citizens, and will provide many challenges to the accounting profession. Likewise, businesses have recognized the need to implement strategies and operations that ensure they are sustainable into the future.

Advice to Students Entering the Workforce 

Most students have not thought beyond getting their first job. I like for them to think longer term and focus on their careers. I ask students what they are passionate about and advise them to go in that direction. In my more than 40 years of experience, I find individuals perform best and enjoy their careers when they are passionate about what they are doing. It has served me well over my career. As a licensed CPA myself, I do encourage students to become a CPA. The options available to students in their careers will be broader, more diverse, and fulfilling as a result of being a CPA.

Challenging Today’s Students

I don’t think today’s students want anything different than what I wanted when I graduated from the University of Richmond in 1975 — to make a difference. What I do perceive as different is how they will make that difference. The profession needs to leverage current and emerging technologies to enhance students’ professional and personal lives. The good news is the students are up to the challenge. For example, every year, we have 25 to 30 undergraduate teams complete practicum experiences, helping organizations solve problems using business analytics. The companies are always impressed with the quality of the results of the practicums. We should not be afraid to challenge students.

Colleges Should Embrace Change 

To make sure colleges are teaching students the most relevant material for their future jobs, they must embrace change and engage with the accounting profession. The profession needs the scholarship of the academy to help address the challenges. Likewise, the academy needs to understand those challenges and related skills so we can prepare students to meet those challenges.

Originally published on Journal of Accountancy.