In honor of International Women’s Day, we took a few minutes to speak with Andrea Hartman about her life as a CPA.
Andrea is a Senior Manager with Hertzbach. She is a leader of the firm’s Affordable Housing Industry Group and has over fifteen years of experience in providing assurance, consulting and accounting services to for-profit and nonprofit real estate owners and developers. Andrea is also a founding member of Hertzbach’s Women’s Initiative: SOAR (Supporting Opportunities for Advancement and Retention).
SOAR strives to foster an environment that supports professional development and work-life balance, enabling employees to reach their peak professional goals.
Your career with Hertzbach started in 2002, what has been the biggest change that you have seen for women in the accounting profession?
For many years, Hertzbach was an all-male partner group which made it difficult for women to develop role models, an important motivator for success. That, in combination with an inflexible work culture, resulted in high turnover of women accountants and a drop-off rate that far exceeded that of male accountants. Over the past ten years, things have really changed for the better! We now have women partners and directors who are leaders of the firm and excellent role models for the younger staff and women on the partner track. SOAR was a catalyst for many other changes. SOAR began as a group of women that wanted to continue their careers in public accounting, but we were all at stages in our lives where our families and/or children demanded flexibility. It has evolved into so much more. We are still advocates for flexible work environments because it is so important for employee retention, but more importantly we focus on mentoring, providing career development and networking opportunities, training that targets gender-specific issues and social events. The goal is to appeal to employees at all stages of their career. The accounting profession has a long way to go, but the improvements I’ve seen at Hertzbach and other firms are measurable.
What are some of your goals for Hertzbach Women SOAR this year?
As we have done in the past, we’d like to continue to plan events that include both men and women. Most of the topics we address through SOAR actually apply to both genders. We’d also love to see some Hertzbach women leave their comfort zones by speaking at events regarding their experiences, participate in discussion panels and become well-known leaders and financial educators within their communities.
What do you see as the most rewarding part of your professional life as a CPA?
It’s rewarding to know that I was part of a group that asked for changes in firm culture, succeeded in making those changes happen and that every day employees have the opportunity to have an improved work-life balance because of that. I’ve also enjoyed the informal mentoring relationships I’ve developed with staff over the years
What is one piece of advice you would give to women starting out in the profession?
Find a mentor early and meet regularly.