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Chair's Perspective: Jennifer Knecht, CPA

Nov 13, 2019
INCPAS Board Chair Jennifer Knecht, CPA, shares her insights into the importance of hands-on education for the CPA profession. 

We hear from some members that the most important learning happens outside the classroom. Would you agree with this and why?

Absolutely. On-the-job training is where the magic happens. The technical skills I learned in the classroom certainly were the solid foundation on which I began building my career. However, as I look back over my career and what I have learned, it has not been the technical textbook learning that has made the lasting impact. Rather, it has been the people, places and personal experiences that have made all the difference.

Jennifer Knecht, CPAShare a story about a time you learned something outside the classroom that still impacts your career or life today.

When I was studying accounting in college, my father recommended I seek out the professional association for CPAs and then join it. He was confident it would have an impact on my career, and he was right. That influence persuaded me to become active in INCPAS very early in my career, and I have never looked back. I have had tremendous opportunities to serve the profession in a variety of different volunteer capacities with INCPAS. Each volunteer experience has continued to build on itself, leading me to serving on the board. My role as INCPAS board chair this year is providing me with extraordinary learning opportunities I could never find in a classroom.

Why does learning and education need to go beyond technical skills?

Technical skills in our profession are critically important; however, those skills alone will never win the day. Standards change and interpretations evolve. Past technical experience may or may not transfer to a new situation. I think it is natural to focus learning on technical skills because those skills can be easily measured. However, soft skills are equally important. CPAs are leading, collaborating with peers and colleagues, building relationships and much more every day. In an era where technical tasks are becoming automated, the importance of soft skills will only increase.

About the Author
Knecht is a partner at Crowe LLP in Indianapolis. She has over 20 years of public accounting experience, serving a range of organizations from multinational entities, to middle market companies, to emerging growth businesses. She works in the retail, manufacturing and distribution, services and extractive industries.