Giving Back to the Profession
By Jess Clarke
Two key developments happened in 2017 in Tim LaSpaluto’s career at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The first one, the AICPA joining with the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), led to the second: the 1997 Jenkins MAC graduate’s promotion to vice president of finance.
His new title reflected a career highlight — to be at the heart of a company’s strategic and operational implementation. It was a bonus that he could bring his professional expertise to the organization that drives his profession.
The AICPA and CIMA form the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, with nearly 700,000 professional and student members in about 180 countries. “What I’ve been able to learn from a global perspective has been huge,” says LaSpaluto, who’s based in the association’s Durham, North Carolina, office. “Being global has its perks,” he says.
And sometimes its challenges. Some of his team members are in China and Malaysia, 12 and 13 hours ahead of his Eastern Standard Time, which can make virtually connecting face to face tricky.
As vice president of finance, LaSpaluto is responsible for overseeing the association’s finance teams. They include corporate accounting, treasury, tax and compliance, finance business partnering, and financial reporting and analysis. He also oversees the facilities and workplace team.
LaSpaluto started at the AICPA in 2006 as controller. Previously, he was senior manager in the assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. There, he worked with privately-owned businesses, publicly traded companies and international clients.
His transition from public accounting to finance leadership was a smooth one.
“Public accounting is certainly a great opportunity to start out and learn. Eventually, I wanted to get into corporate finance and test the waters on the other side of the audit,” LaSpaluto says. “I knew if I ever wanted to go back into public accounting, I could make the transition back.”
But he hasn’t. His 16 years with the AICPA, and now, the association, have kept him engaged with the organization.
“I like how we act on behalf of our members, students and the profession. I like the people I work with, including our employees and our many volunteers. I’ve been afforded a lot of different opportunities that have allowed me to grow throughout my career. Those are the key things that keep me here,” LaSpaluto says.
The AICPA in the U.S. advocates for the accounting profession and provides members with tools, resources and information to keep up to date with trends in various industries — and to help them succeed in their careers. The AICPA also develops the CPA exam and partners with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to offer it to CPA candidates.
LaSpaluto himself passed all four parts of the exam the first time — not easy to do.
Many of Jenkins’ MAC classes were geared toward the CPA exam. “That helped me significantly when it came time to take the exam,” says LaSpaluto, who also earned an undergraduate degree in accounting at NC State. “Clearly, passing the whole exam at once was a big achievement, and I credit the MAC program for that.”
He cites the tight connections he formed with MAC students and professors and the courses and networking events that prepared students to enter the workforce as other highlights of the program. A regular stream of recruiters who visited campus made it easier to find employment. “It was huge from that perspective,” says LaSpaluto who, outside the office, plays golf and spends time at the beach with his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Alexis.
At this point in his career, he enjoys the rewards of his work with the association, which go beyond financial compensation.
“The biggest thing is that while this is my job, it’s nice being able to give back to the profession with what I’m doing. We’re here to serve our members and students,” LaSpaluto says. “It’s great getting to see all the things we’re doing on behalf of the profession, our members, students and the public.”
This post was originally published in MAC Program.