GALLIPOLIS — Going from one extreme to the other has earned Shayna Chapman much recognition over the last few years.
Growing up in the home of accountants, Chapman was pretty certain accounting was not a profession she wanted to enter. But she did and many folks are benefiting from her career choice.
Earlier this month, Chapman, owner and founder of Shaynaco LLC, was recognized by CPA Practice Advisor magazine as one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting for 2015. In 2014, the magazine presented her with a similar award as well as including her in its annual 40 Under 40 class of accounting professionals in 2012 and 2014.
“Neither Kelly-Jo (her sister) or I wanted to be accountants,” Chapman said. She recalled spending a lot of time at the office of her family’s accounting firm as she grew up. Her father, Steve, whom she refers to as a “recovering CPA,” and mother, Linda, also an accountant, owned a successful accounting firm here for a number of years.
“I slept in a file cabinet drawer,” she added. “I can remember playing hide-and-seek with my dad putting me on top of file cabinets to hide from my sister.”
Those long hours were enough for Chapman to think about another career — so much so that a high school boyfriend who went off to college and decided to become an accounting major found himself without a girlfriend.
“I went into pre-law,” Chapman said, “but I wasn’t really sure what to do with a law degree if you’re not going to be a lawyer.
“Then my junior year in college I went to Japan, so I thought about becoming an international tax accountant. And, I had taken some accounting courses all along,” she added. “Accounting was a backup plan.”
She met and married John Burris, a fellow accountant who passed away several years ago, and joined the family firm. Her intent, though, was to find a better balance between her professional and personal life than she knew growing up.
Chapman explained that many accounting firms focus on a more traditional way of accomplishing tasks, such as having accountants in an office environment and measuring results more by hours spent on the job. Technology, though, provides an opportunity for accountants to work in a different way.
“Technology provides for more mobility and freedom for a better work-life balance,” she said.
That passion to find a better balance between work and family was the driving force behind her connection with a group founded by Jason Blumer known as Thriveal, a group of accountants and CPAs seeking many of the same things Chapman was interested in accomplishing in her career.
The group connected on Twitter and after a time decided to meet in person. They chose a conference with the express idea of talking about “how we can change the accounting profession.”
“We showed up in our blue jeans and blazers, seven of us, all from legacy firms,” she said, pointing out that accounting professionals traditional are attired in suits and ties. As she became more involved with Thriveal, she became a mentor to younger accountants encouraging “cliff jumpers,” individuals working at larger firms to branch out and open their own practices.
The group began looking at how technology could change the profession looking at what she calls, “ROE, results-oriented environment,” where the emphasis is getting the job done and less on when and where works takes place.
The interest in technology, what it could do for accounting firms and consequently, their clients, led Chapman to seek accreditation as a Certified Information Technology Professional, designating her as someone who is skilled in, uses and adopts information technology. She is recognized as one for the premier authorities of Sage, a leading accounting software developer and service providers in the world. She regularly blogs about various software and accounting products for Sage and is also featured in advertising for Sage in magazines and a video on the company’s website.
In total, 26 women were recognized by the magazine for their role in advancing the accounting profession within the last year. One of her fellow honorees was Jennifer Warawa, global vice president of product marketing for Sage. Others included Loretta Doon, CEO of California Society of CPAs, and Joanne Barry, executive director of the New York Society of CPAs.
“I think one of the things I am most proud of is being up there with these other women in the accounting world,” Chapman said of the ceremony in Las Vegas.
Bud Hunt is publisher of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.