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Interview with Rita Keller, A Widely Known Expert on CPA Management

Rita Keller, a renowned expert on CPA management has been named one of the top 100 most influential people in accounting. She is an advisor, speaker, author, facilitator, coach, mentor, and blogger. Rita is known for the advice she contributes to her blog daily, which granted her a go-to person for running a CPA firm. She leans in and takes on the challenge of being a leading voice to prevent common leadership mistakes.

Lean In Dayton: You are a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, and author. What led to your work to teach CPAs how to manage their firms?

Rita Keller:  I actively worked in managing a progressive, growing CPA firm for 30 years.  Along the way, other would seek me out to ask questions and learn more about what my firm was doing. That led to speaking engagements and consulting opportunities.  Eight years ago I left the firm to focus on consulting full-time and have never looked back.  It has been a rewarding experience.

Lean In Dayton: Lean In stresses for more women to “sit at the table” because they are less likely to take on roles that are way at the top. Where do you think your ability to lead stems from? 

Rita Keller:  Many years ago, I read a book by Gail Evans titled, “Play Like A Man Win Like A Woman”.  It taught me many of the things that have now been published in Lean In. In fact, Sandberg cites Evans in her book.  That book helped me understand how men looked at women in business and “sit at the table” was an excellent bit of advice.  Sometimes I think that growing up as a tomboy in a neighborhood full of boys helped me survive in a male-dominated business world.

Lean In Dayton: You are sought out for speaking at nearly every major CPA firm management conference sponsored by the AICPA, CPA firm associations, and state CPA societies. What piece of advice would you lend to women in regards to public speaking and building their confidence?

Rita Keller:  I urge women to simply “go for it”.  Don’t worry about being nervous and stumbling a little.  You have to start somewhere, so begin by teaching internal workshops at your company or firm or even chairing a community committee.  The more you speak the better you get.

Interviewed by Julene Allen

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Julene Allen