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Building the pipeline requires commitment, attentiveness

Written on Jul 22, 2021

 By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

For Robert Sielschott, CPA, embracing diverse students in the pipeline is an opportunity the accounting profession can’t afford to ignore. 

“I want to have a mindset in our firm that we are on the lookout for young people that we can give opportunities to,” he said. “Because there are people outside that sphere of your own world experience that have abilities and are willing to compete and are qualified and will make really good CPAs someday.” 

Sielschott is president and senior partner of Sielschott, Walsh, Keifer, Regula & Sherer CPAs, Inc., a firm with locations in Lima and Bluffton. This summer they’ve hired Payton Rodriguez and Trey Johnson as accounting interns who are learning about the fundamentals of the profession. Rodriguez attends Bowling Green State University and Johnson goes to the University of Northwestern Ohio.

Sielschott said the importance of hiring diverse accounting interns in a profession that is overwhelmingly white is not lost on him. Sielschott said he has had opportunities to learn from those different from him in his personal life; his wife is Mexican, and he said he’s loved learning about a different culture from her. He has also coached football at Bath High School in Lima since the mid-1980’s. 

“I get exposure to a lot of young people through coaching, which has expanded the universe of my life,” he said. “And it’s given me the opportunity to keep an eye out for people that might have an interest in accounting or might have an interest in business.” 

As the accounting profession’s pool of future candidates becomes smaller, Sielschott said, leaders can’t afford to ignore parts of the population that are “willing to compete and be successful.” 

“If we as a profession aren't attuned to the fact that that there is a disparity of access and a disparity of opportunity for minority students at the beginning, that the door isn't as wide for them and we don't pay attention to that, then some people won’t even get the chance to compete,” he said. 

Finding ways to overcome that lack of access is crucial to bringing the best and brightest to the profession, he said. 

“Where we need to focus is widening our worlds,” Sielschott said. “So that we see more potential people from a broader range of possibilities.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about OSCPA’s efforts in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, find out more here