Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo and Work-Life Balance

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer caused an uproar last week when she decided that all of her company’s remote employees needed to be working in the office by June. According to a source, Mayer made the decision because many of the company’s remote employees “weren’t productive.” The initial memo announcing the decision stated that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Will Mayer’s move pay off? Recent research suggests that it might not. A just-released study (PDF) from Stanford University found that workers randomly selected to work from home were 13 percent more productive.

Telecommuting has been on the rise in recent years, and not just in Silicon Valley. (Although it’s worth noting that Yahoo competitors Google and Facebook discourage remote working.) With fuel prices remaining high, the ability to work from home could be a major employee perk in many industries.

What do you think? Does your company allow employees to work from home? How has it affected productivity?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One JMU Student's Leaders' Institute Experience

The VSCPA's annual Leaders' Institute connects top accounting students to potential employers and mentoring and networking opportunities. James Madison University (JMU) student Samantha Burch recently wrote an article about her Leaders' Institute experience for the university's accounting newsletter Applications for the 2013 Leaders' Institute at George Mason University (GMU) are due April 1.

Read on to learn about how Samantha (second from left in the picture at right) benefitted from the Leaders' Institute and click here to learn more about the program.

During the summer I attended The Leaders’ Institute, a program for the top rising junior accounting majors in Virginia, hosted at Virginia Tech by Baker Tilly. Throughout the program, I had the opportunity to hear several professionals speak about various topics, such as "Maintaining Your Personal Brand" and "Leadership Core Competencies". I also attended a networking dinner and an etiquette luncheon. There were two panels: one addressed the CPA exam and the other talked about how to make the school to work transition. All the speakers and panels were very informative and answered questions that I hadn’t realized I needed to ask.

As always, there were plenty of opportunities to network with fellow students and professionals. Firms of all sizes were represented during "Meet the Firms" night. It was very beneficial to walk around to different tables to get a sense of what size firm I might want to explore. There were small firms with only one office, like Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer. Large firms like KPMG were also present. This event was probably the most beneficial because I was able to get a sense of each firm’s philosophy and begin thinking of what kind of firm I may want to intern with. With such diversity represented, I realized that the firms weren’t only interviewing me, but that I should ask critical questions to see if a particular firm was a good fit for me as well.  
My favorite part of the weekend was a presentation titled "How to Interview Your Future Employer". This was given by Heather Sunderlin, the director of employee services at Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer. She helped me compile a list of important questions that I should ask both during the interviewing process and after I gain employment. She also gave me an insight about what she looks for when she is conducting an interview. She addressed less frequently covered topics such as how to proceed if two firms want to hire you, and how to politely decline an offer. She genuinely seemed interested in helping me get the most out of my decisions on a personal level. She spoke at length about incentives and benefits, and how best to pursue the ones that I want.

The weekend was really about getting a chance to test my networking and professional skills in an environment where I could get honest feedback and criticism. We were put into groups and each group had a team leader who was newer to a firm, not necessarily a partner or manager. This made the environment a safe one for asking questions that we wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing with a partner, and receiving candid answers from people in positions that we expect to hold in just a few short years. I was able to get an inside look into the accounting profession, which could be helpful to someone in deciding if accounting is for him/her. I would absolutely recommend the program to every rising junior with a declared major in accounting.

Top 5 Most Popular Articles: Feb. 9–15, 2013

Here are the five most-read news articles on! Articles are taken from the VSCPA News and Professional News sections and are ranked by unique page views.
  1. VSCPA Member Henshaw Named Deputy Auditor of Public Accounts
  2. District Court Judge Denies IRS's RTRP Request, Clarifies Ruling
  3. IRS Warns of Delays for Returns Claiming Child Tax Credit
  4. IRS Form 14157 Allows for Anonymous Complains Against Tax Preparers
  5. IRS Reacts to RTRP Ruling
Check back each Friday for updated rankings of the top stories on

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Special: Jamie and Daphne Walker, CPAs

As we celebrate Valentine's Day, here's the story of a couple who found love, VSCPA-style.

VSCPA members Jamie Walker, CPA, and Daphne Swanson, CPA, met through CPA Day of Service 2011 when Jamie's firm, WalkerChaney, CPAs, volunteered at Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, where Daphne worked. Less than a year later, they were married.

Watch the video below or read this story to learn more about Jamie and Daphne's unusual love story. Happy Valentine's Day from the VSCPA!

Friday, February 8, 2013

VSCPA Members Make Moves at the APA

Two VSCPA members recently moved up the ranks at the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (APA). Martha Mavredes, CPA, was named Auditor of Public Accounts in December and confirmed by the Virginia General Assembly in January. On Friday, Mavredes' old job was filled when VSCPA Board of Directors member Staci Henshaw, CPA, was named Deputy Auditor of Public Accounts.

Both are longtime APA employees. Mavredes has been with the office since 1984, while Henshaw came aboard 10 years later. Both worked for firms that would become members of the Big Four (Mavredes at a precursor to KPMG, Henshaw at a precursor to PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Congratulations on your new jobs, Martha and Staci!