“The purpose of the WALS event is to provide a forum for women in accounting and finance to share thoughts and experiences on leadership development and strategies for success,” said Former IMA Chair Sandra Richtermeyer, dean of the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts—Lowell. “IMA and Pace University share a passion for encouraging women to advance their careers into leadership roles.”

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The energy of the room was electric throughout the day as the speakers and attendees got to know one another and exchange valuable information. The event provided the perfect platform for professional women to share inspiring stories about successes in their career as well as reveal all-too-familiar challenges.

Richtermeyer presented the first session of the day, “The Role Women Play in Driving Business Performance,” which focused on current employment trends and the impact they have on career advancement opportunities for women. During the session, she challenged guests to think critically about common barriers women face along their path to leadership roles. She also discussed statistical analysis of women in C-suite and executive board positions, leadership roles in academia and in accounting and finance, and hot-button issues such as the gender wage gap, talent pipeline, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. In closing, Richtermeyer asked guests to spend time thinking about their professional development plans.

For the next session, “A CFO’s Career Journey,” Leslie Seidman, executive director of Pace University’s Center for Excellence in Financial Reporting and former chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), moderated a candid and engaging conversation featuring Linda Huber, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Moody’s Corporation. Huber discussed her path to becoming CFO from managing professional challenges to finding a balance between work and family commitments. Seidman and Huber talked about current business issues and challenges women in accounting and finance may face throughout their careers. They also shared practical advice for how aspiring professionals can tackle work-life obstacles.

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FASB member Christine Botosan then presented “Accounting Update,” an overview of major new standards such as revenue recognition, leases, and credit losses, as well as projects in progress. She also offered a look at the FASB agenda consultation project and how input from accounting and finance professionals can help shape the Board’s future agenda.

The final session of the day, “Strategies for Professional Success,” featured Judith D. Ginder, global head of internal audit, Allianz Asset Management, and Tina Pinto, finance director, Janssen Business Development, Johnson & Johnson, with Richtermeyer as moderator. Ginder and Pinto shared their unique perspectives on nontraditional working environments. Because she travels frequently between offices in Germany and New York, Ginder talked about balancing the demands of an unusual schedule and managing family commitments. Pinto, who shares a position in mergers and acquisitions with a remote colleague, explained the opportunities and challenges she encounters from such an arrangement.

“I couldn’t be happier with the level of expertise and attendee engagement at this WALS event,” Seidman noted. “It is a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse group of women for a day of networking, inspiring and honest conversations, and informative talks about developing leadership skills that can help any finance and accounting professional in her career journey.”

Women IMA members are encouraged to attend the next WALS event, which will take place in Houston, Texas, in spring 2017. If you are interested in attending or learning more about future Women’s Accounting Leadership Series events, please send an email to womensleadership@imanet.org.

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