Fisher School hosts 11th Annual Women in Accounting Symposium

The Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business recognized the importance and impact of its female students and alumnae at the 11th Annual Women in Accounting Symposium on Sept. 29.

Barbara Jean Raskin speaks with students at the 11th Annual Women in Accounting Symposium.

“I never dreamed that when I started in 1973 in public accounting that I’d be in a room with this many women accountants or accounting students,” said Barbara Jean Raskin, BSBA ’73, CPA, and speaker at the event. “It’s just incredible.”

Sponsored by Deloitte, KPMG, Grant Thornton, RSM, EY and PwC, the Women in Accounting Symposium brought together accounting students with Fisher School alumnae and other women working in accounting to network and learn insightful strategies.

Raskin spoke about her time at UF and her career as a CPA in the then male-dominated field.

“[The firm’s partners] kept saying I was going to be the first woman partner,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘Why don’t you just say I’m going to be another partner? Why do I have to be the first woman partner?’ They just didn’t get that.”

Despite losing the position because she stood up for herself when the firm’s partners asked her to give up managing her department to a man, Raskin said it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to her.

“They had taught me well,” she said. “I learned how to manage a firm. I learned how to manage clients. I learned how to do the work.”

From there, she set about building her own CPA practice, which she still manages today, in addition to being a financial advisor and certified mediator.

Raskin credited her tenacity and networking abilities with helping her succeed in the field and told students they should do the same.

“As women in the industry, you need to look out for each other,” she said. “Other women are not threats to you. They are your colleagues.”

Stephanie Gardner (BSAc ’02), Lynn Sedwick and Mari Chumley (BSAc ’01, MAcc ’01) of RSM echoed Raskin in their interactive presentation about advocating for yourself. Using a Family Feud style game, they taught attendees how to speak up for themselves, and their female colleagues, to advance their careers.

Other speakers included KPMG’s Becky Sproul presenting on self-awareness, Sarah Anderson (BSAc ’00, MAcc ’01) and Danielle Poritz from PwC on how to communicate with confidence, and a panel discussion about expectations versus reality with Deloitte’s Marissa Van Regemorter (BSAc ’09, MAcc ’09), EY’s Sarah Senior and Grant Thornton’s Kira Warnock (BSAc ’12, MAcc ’12).

Barbara Jean Raskin speaks at the 11th Annual Women in Accounting Symposium.

Event attendees had the opportunity to network throughout the day and at a reception following the presentations.

The Fisher School prides itself on providing opportunities like the Women in Accounting Symposium to its students, fulfilling its commitment to preparing future accounting leaders. Today, 63% of all accountants and auditors in the U.S. are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

PwC Faculty Fellow Debbie Garvin emphasized that pride in her opening remarks.

“Without a doubt, you are all very special women in accounting,” Garvin said.