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
September 2017

5 Professional Development Options for Financial Staff

An accounting and finance department is only as productive and effective as the staff who comprise it. Good leaders understand this and therefore encourage their employees to continually develop new skills and knowledge — and polish the abilities they already possess.

In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, 31 percent of CFOs said that their companies planned to increase spending on professional development this year. It’s not difficult to understand the reason behind these budget boosts: Employees with solid technical skills typically work more efficiently — and are less likely to make mistakes on the job. Solid soft skills — written and verbal communication, leadership, collaboration, and more — are important to team success, as well.

Spending additional resources on staff training and skills enhancement can lead to invaluable ROI for your business. Strategies can often be easy to implement, and in many cases, cost little or nothing to put in motion. Here are six ideas:

1. Have employees rotate jobs

One of the best ways to add to an employee’s skill set is through job rotation. Not only can such arrangements help workers to learn other roles, but it also can increase their business acumen — an essential ingredient for problem-solving and big-picture thinking on the job. Rotating positions can also keep accounting and finance employees from becoming bored with their duties, which helps to improve job satisfaction and retention rates.

2. Make mentorship a priority

Maximize the strength of your multigenerational workforce by asking senior-level employees to serve as mentors and guides to their junior colleagues. Keep in mind that mentoring relationships can work both ways: Those just starting their accounting careers also have unique knowledge and skill sets that more experienced accountants and auditors may not, such as creative ways to reach millennial clients. More than likely, you’ll find that every employee in your organization could benefit from taking part in a mentoring or coaching program.

3. Assign cross-departmental teams

Create project task forces that span two or more divisions so accounting and finance employees can get to know their colleagues from other parts of the business. Cross-departmental collaboration can boost both technical and interpersonal skills, as staff will have a better appreciation for the roles and workflow of coworkers across the company. Also, when a technological or marketing issue arises, for example, your team will know right away which colleagues to contact for help.

4. Bring in guest speakers

Consider hosting monthly lunch sessions led by industry experts. This is a quick, easy and cost-effective way to provide your staff with continuing education.

To ensure these events create value, present current topics that would interest staff from entry-level accountants to veteran budget analysts. Some ideas include the benefits of cloud technology, changing tax legislation, year-end audits, and the latest U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) developments. Outside specialists not only provide additional knowledge, but also can introduce new ideas and spark innovation.

5. Encourage volunteering

Support employees' efforts to donate their time and service to a worthy cause. While pro bono work may not seem like professional development, activities such as tutoring high school students in math or helping a nonprofit with year-end reporting are excellent opportunities to hone soft skills like communication, diversity and problem-solving — all while making a positive impact.

Volunteering can be good for your business, too. Sixty-one percent of U.S. workers interviewed for a Robert Half survey said that taking part in philanthropic activities outside of the office enhances their wellness. And a healthy staff will be a more productive staff.

Make sure employees have time for development

When your team members constantly face the challenge of lengthy to-do lists, they’ll be inclined to push professional development to the back burner. That is, unless you encourage them to make room in their schedule for these pursuits and help them find that time.

One way to ease the burden on your core staff, especially during intense work periods, is to hire consultants. These professionals complement your full-time team by providing skills, knowledge and support when, and for as long as, they are needed. Working with consultants helps to ensure your employees can stay on top of their current responsibilities, while also building the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future.

The initial time and effort to implement the professional development ideas listed above can lead to an increase in your staff’s knowledge base and their overall abilities. Participation in meaningful opportunities also can positively influence employees’ job satisfaction — and, in turn, boost your retention rates. That’s just one way that a thoughtful and proactive approach to professional development can translate to a win-win for your employees and your business.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at