Renner Careers Blog; June 21, 2022
Communication is a two-way street, and the familiar practice of looking both ways is applicable whether you’re preparing to cross a busy road or engage in an important business discussion.
That was, essentially, the biggest takeaway for Renner and Company Tax Manager Paige Mason, after she recently completed the Margaret DeBoe Leadership Program.
“Everyone is in the same boat. If you are struggling with communication, so is the person you are communicating with,” Paige said.
The Greater Washington Society of CPAs (GWSCPA) developed and piloted the program in 2016. It aims to help younger staff members at accounting firms develop stronger management, communication and other “soft” skills.
“Even the best technicians will struggle to advance in firms if they cannot master these leadership qualities,” according to the program pamphlet.
The Renner shareholders selected Paige to attend this year’s program.
“We believe in supporting career development at Renner,” said Joan Renner, the firm’s managing shareholder. “The strength of our firm is rooted in the growth of our team members.”
Paige graduated from the program June 8, after attending five virtual sessions over the course of the past nine months. Each session lasted 4-5 hours and had a specific topic, including the following:
- Successful communication
- Building an intentional network
- Working with virtual teams
- Virtual presentations
- Managing stress and energy
The “very interactive” sessions included PowerPoint presentations, additional materials and/or worksheets, breakout rooms and other exercises.
The initial session, which focused on successful communication, had an especially lasting impact for Paige.
“I was new to the role of being a manager and having staff people working with me,” she said. “(It) taught me that everyone has different communication styles. You have to try different ways to communicate before you can figure out what works best for you and someone else.”
Paige said her favorite session came in late February. The virtual presentation session had a carefree tone and delivery. It came at just the right time for the busy CPA.
“I was becoming very stressed from the upcoming tax deadline and (the session) moderators were very funny and nice,” Paige said. “It was a creative, easygoing session. So it really alleviated my stress for a moment.”
The assignment for the session? Create and present a five-minute presentation on any topic the students wanted.
“I chose ‘The Bachelor’ and gave a brief overview of the (Bachelor) season so far,” Paige said.
Stress relief of any kind, as any CPA will attest to, is always welcome during tax season.
“The virtual world is an adjustment for everyone,” Paige said. “If you are struggling with imposter syndrome, so are many other people — even if they don’t seem like it. Mental health is important. You have to have empathy and understanding when working with others.”
The leadership program wrapped up in May. The graduates came away with valuable knowledge, improved work skills and a better understanding of the importance of communication in the workplace.
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