Audit Senior Johnathan Culbreath, CPA featured in VSCPA in Honor of Black History Month
VSCPA: What led you to the accounting profession?
JC: I pursued an accounting degree looking for a foothold to the law enforcement field. As I learned more about the opportunities public accounting experience would bring and got to know the employers recruiting at VCU, I decided to see where a career in accounting would take me.
VSCPA: What do you find most fulfilling about your career?
JC: For me, the most fulfilling aspect is the opportunity to train newer staff and encourage them to continue learning and growing as young professionals. I also enjoy getting to know my clients and building the trust with them that facilitates cooperative working relationships.
VSCPA: Who are the role models and mentors who have helped you in your life? In your career?
JC: My mother came from rural South Carolina when I was very young and overcame many setbacks and barriers in life. She taught me how to deal with adversity and showed me the importance of making the most of every opportunity in a world that isn't always so kind.
A couple of senior managers (also Virginia CPAs) at Snyder Cohn in Bethesda, Md., encouraged me to have confidence in myself and really pushed me to expand my comfort zone to be a better professional.
VSCPA: What challenges do minorities face getting leadership opportunities in the profession?
JC: I can't speak for all minorities in the industry, but it is a fact that folks are more comfortable with what they know. There are some unfair generalizations out there which seem to provide justification for avoiding the uncomfortable questions regarding diversity in the workplace. A relationship that starts with a trust deficit has a small margin for error, creates a lot of pressure for all involved, and can be devastating to a young person just beginning their career, when guidance and encouragement is most critical. Confronting yourself can be painful and some folks may be afraid to even acknowledge the presence of these uncomfortable questions.
VSCPA: How can the accounting profession ensure a diverse workforce in the future?
JC: I have been fortunate that my employers have all valued, celebrated and sought diversity, but not everyone is afforded the same opportunity. I believe employers should encourage firm education and engagement with professionals of all different religions, genders, sexual orientations, races and abilities. Diversity training at annual CPA conferences can help equip firm leaders with tools to decided how to move forward.