Recently I attended an AFWA Des Moines meeting and met some wonderful ladies.  They had never attended an AFWA Meeting before.  It was a great pleasure to meet them and talk about AFWA.  One thing I left out was how big a part of my life this organization is. 

I would like to share my story briefly.  I became a member early in my accounting career.  I also chose to be a part of the chapter board.  It was an exciting time for me.  All through the years as my career grew so did my AFWA career.  I was Chapter President off and on.  Then I became a member of the AFWA National Team and then on the AFWA National Board.   AFWA is the support and encouragement that I needed to step out of my shell, grow personally and professionally.  I completed my four year degree, my CPA and then my MBA.   The network I developed allowed me to see other successful women and know that I could do it.  I also have great satisfaction working with others who are just getting started.   Mentoring absolutely works both ways.

The benefits of the Des Moines AFWA Chapter are:  Monthly meetings,  whether you are a CPA in need of continuing education or not it is an excellent networking and learning opportunity.   There are leadership opportunities.  I earned my MBA but AFWA gave me leadership opportunities as well.  Volunteer opportunities, if leadership is not your path there are short term volunteer opportunities.  If you are concerned about commitment please consider being an active participative member of AFWA and enjoy the benefits.

There is also the AFWA National Organization.  There are about 70 chapters around the country,  regional and national conferences. The conferences are very energizing, continuing education, fun, and always at a fantastic place to visit.  The networking there is awesome.  Your National membership dues provide us the opportunity to have official continuing education at the chapter level, they provide the structure and support that membership requires, and there are multiple free webinars.   Many times I have heard about members relocating.  There is a great chance that you will find another AFWA chapter in that new location.  There is a National Board and Committees that make that possible.  AFWA National headquarters Staff are there to provide the advancement of our organization, the backbone of our organization, and secure sponsors that make that all happen.   Another part of the National AFWA is the Education Foundation.  Their missions is The Foundation promotes and advances education, career development and leadership in finance and accounting. Our vision is to guide women along the path to achieve success in finance and accounting. 

My personal invitation and call to action today is please go to the Des Moines AFWA website and the AFWA National Website and research if membership is right for you and Please join us as a member. Please contact me or a member of the Des Moines Chapter if you have questions. 

If you are already an AFWA member please consider becoming part of the action.  The chapter board has made it fun and small commitment!  The reason we encourage membership involvement is to get new ideas and to have new members to fill the pipeline across the board so everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.  And no one has to feel as if they are over committed. 

The mission of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance is to enable women in all accounting and finance fields to achieve their full potential and to contribute to their profession.

AFWA members are empowered professionals who succeed with passion and integrity.

Legacy of Expertise

Founded in 1938 to increase the opportunities for women in all fields of accounting and finance, members of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and their companies benefit from resources that accelerate their professional growth. The industry has evolved enormously for women in the past 75 years, with our organization smartly and passionately evolving with it, ahead of the curve, so that all women in accounting and finance can excel.

A plan for your future

AFWA promotes the professional growth of women in all facets of accounting and finance. Members increase their career potential by connecting with colleagues, receiving education and mentorship to advance their careers, and developing leadership skills. For more than 75 years, members have tapped into a network of successful, motivated, and influential professionals who understand the unique position of being a woman in the industry and who, together, contribute to the future development of their profession.


Gina Slack CPA, CGMA, MBA

Publication: AFWA
March 2018

5 Ways to Make Mentoring Meaningful to Millennials

In many respects, millennial finance and accounting professionals aren’t much different from their baby boomer and Generation X counterparts. They want to be treated with respect and recognized for their contributions on the job. They value professional development and career advancement. And they want the opportunity to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Millennial professionals also have some different expectations about their work experience. For one, they seek continuous training and feedback. Meeting those expectations can be a challenge for busy managers. But a mentoring program that pairs seasoned employees with millennial staff can help finance leaders ensure team members from Generation Y and Generation Z are receiving the one-on-one attention and guidance they seek.


These arrangements must be well-thought-out and relevant, however, if they are to have a positive and lasting impact on millennial employees — and on those who are serving as mentors. These five tips can help you develop a mentoring program that will be meaningful to everyone involved:

1. Allow mentees to share opinions and ideas freely

Millennials tend to view company leaders more as colleagues or partners than bosses. For them, a meaningful mentoring relationship is not top-down, where they are empty vessels ready to be filled with knowledge. Rather, they want to be heard.


So, when establishing a mentoring program for millennial accounting and finance staff, look for mentors who are comfortable with a flatter hierarchy. Also, encourage them to give mentees plenty of opportunities to offer feedback and make suggestions for improvement.

2. Shake up the routine

Variety is the spice of the mentoring life. That’s why mentors need to think about ways to move beyond conversations and identify opportunities for their mentees to engage in hands-on learning.


For example, millennial mentees could shadow their mentors for a day. Or, they could observe senior-level meetings to understand what goes into executive decision-making. Mentors could also introduce or connect their protégés with other leaders and influencers in the company or invite them to business networking events to help them enlarge their circle of contacts.


Assigning projects to mentees that will help them to stretch their abilities and develop their business acumen and big-picture thinking is also good practice. Just make sure they already have the core skills (and the time) to take on any special assignments.

3. Keep it alive

Effective mentoring requires regular interaction between the mentor and mentee. But after the initial few meetings, it can be easy for both parties to let the mentoring relationship slide. People get busy. And as workloads rise and deadlines loom, mentoring relationships can get pushed to the back burner.


So, be sure to encourage mentor partners to check in often with each other through in-person meetings, phone calls or video chat. They should also follow a structured schedule for touching base, at least initially. For added motivation, you could make such meetings — both scheduled and impromptu — a metric on which staff members are evaluated during performance reviews.

4. Set an ‘expiration date’

While some mentorships can last for many years, most have a formal ending. It’s a good idea to determine up front how long the formal portion of a mentoring relationship will last.


Typical mentorships run from three months to a year. In some cases, the relationship will end earlier — either because it wasn’t productive for one or both parties, or because the objective was met ahead of schedule. The mentor should jot down notes about what aspects of the relationship worked well and what did not.


During the final meeting, celebrate all that the mentee has learned and, if appropriate, make sure their achievements receive broader recognition at the firm.

5. Explore nontraditional arrangements

Everyone is familiar with the classic mentoring relationship in the business world: an experienced employee helps an up-and-coming colleague to “learn the ropes.” However, you might want to break with tradition and consider having millennials mentor their Gen X and baby boomer colleagues.


Reverse mentoring can be empowering for millennial workers because it allows them to share their fresh insights, social media savvy and more. Peer mentoring, where colleagues who work at similar levels in the company pair up to share professional feedback and advice, can be rewarding, too.


Serving as a mentor also gives millennials the opportunity to refine soft skills, such as communication, and develop their leadership abilities. (In a recent survey by our company, 38 percent of CFOs said the opportunity to build leadership skills is the greatest benefit of being a mentor.)

Help everyone on your team to grow

Even though their work styles, preferences and expectations may differ, baby boomer, Gen X and millennial professionals generally seek the same things: to have satisfying careers, to be allowed to work to their full potential, and to be compensated appropriately for their contributions.


Keeping those core needs and aspirations in focus will help you to manage every employee on your accounting and finance team more effectively and ensure that every worker has an opportunity to learn — and share their knowledge.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has 300 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and career advice, can be found at