Topical Thoughts from MICPA President & CEO, Bob Doyle What About...Bob?

Better Together: MICPA CEO Bob Doyle Sits Down with NABA Detroit Chapter Treasurer

 

I had a great conversation recently with Darius Jackson, CPA, treasurer of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) – Detroit Chapter and Accounting Analyst at Ford Motor Credit Company. We talked about NABA and the future pipeline of CPAs.  

Bob: How did you get involved and interested in the accounting industry and NABA? 

Darius: Coming out of high school, I didn't really have a clear and concise view of what I wanted to do. I was always strong in math and in taking career placement tests, my typical results were engineering, business or banking. Though, one of the results was becoming an actuary. In looking at colleges that offered that program, U of M was the only one in Michigan. I ended up getting accepted to Michigan State University and saw that accounting was fairly comparable, so I chose it as my major. In taking the accounting courses, I found it interesting and enjoyable.  

Michigan State has a group of Multicultural Business Programs and NABA is a part of that larger umbrella specific for accountants. Meeting other students who are involved with that chapter propelled me to want to stay involved in the profession. As a result of attending a NABA conference, I got my first summer intern program through KPMG.  

Making connections through NABA and staying involved, giving back, brought me to now being the treasurer of the new Detroit chapter.  

 

Bob: Tell us a little more about NABA and what you’re working to accomplish? 

Darius: NABA is a nationwide membership organization. The Detroit chapter was founded in 1972, and it's been going strong ever since. Our motto is “lifting as we climb.” So, we're focused on giving back and trying to bring up that next generation of accountants. Currently, only about one percent, or slightly lower, of CPAs are African American. It is our mission to develop, encourage and serve the African American community and those who are trying to pursue a career in accounting.  

We hold meetings and offer training and development sessions for professionals. We encourage black students to explore the field of accounting in a couple ways. We have a week-long program for high school students to get exposed to and learn about the profession, as well as other business occupations to pique their interest (ACAP)1. We also support our collegiate chapters. We support student chapters at approximately 6-7 colleges/universities in the state through funds to help pay for conferences, networking events from the collegiate to the professional level.  

 

Bob: What would you recommend to support Black students considering a career in accounting or as a CPA? 

Darius: One of the biggest things is putting the information out in front of students. Even as a high school student for me, I didn't know any accountants and I wasn't introduced to the profession itself. I was lucky enough to stumble upon it through my own research, so to speak. Reaching out to students early is key. This also gives students more opportunity for scholarships to help with financial gaps, which can be an obstacle in the black community. Providing guidance and support early on the full pathway to becoming a CPA is also key; knowing the financial investment of the 150-hr requirement, in addition to studying and sitting for the CPA exam. Also, the ROI…if you maintain it and operate in it, then it could take you wherever you want to take it.  

 

Bob: What are some key voices in the African American community that you look up to? 

Darius: We have some individuals within the organization who are trailblazers, putting their money where their mouth is in terms of pushing the profession forward and being an example to those who are coming behind them. 

  • A staple in Detroit history, if you will, is Betty Maple. She is a former Deloitte partner, who embodies our motto of “lifting as we climb”, who leads our Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP) every year. She's been leading the program since its inception twenty-one years ago and goes above and beyond to give the students an amazing experience to really charge them up and get excited about the profession. 

  • William Love, a young black EY partner in the profession is knocking down doors and leading the way for that next generation.  

  • Noel Abdur-Rahim, a partner at PwC in Atlanta, GA, is the first black woman, partner in that office.  

 

Bob: What are some ways that associations or organizations can better support or give back to the black community? 

Darius: Early education on available opportunities and variety of options within the profession. Also knowing that black CPAs are underrepresented in the community, makes us somewhat unique in terms of standing out against the crowd.    

Also, seek out organizations, like NABA, that are already involved within a target community and support them in ways that they need. 

And lastly, meet people where they are. Listen and understand what their problems or hurdles are, then provide specific information and support for them, as an individual.   

 

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