By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
The cherry on top of being nominated as a Power of Change honoree for Kelli Bernstein, CPA, was finding out her son, also a CPA, had been the one to send in the nomination.
“That part was very special,” said Bernstein, a vice president in the assurance services group at Meaden & Moore.
Bernstein was named a Power of Change honoree at the OSCPA Women, Wealth and Wellness Conference in July 2022. The award salutes individuals who are advocates for women’s initiatives in the workplace and business community, serve as mentors or role models, make a significant impact on their communities and break barriers for other women.
Bernstein said she found invaluable support in the earlier part of her career from those who told her it was possible to raise a family and have a successful career. During her first ten years in public accounting, she had four young sons and began thinking about whether she should stay in the profession.
“People stepped up and helped me realize that I could do both because they knew that I really enjoyed my career,” she said. “But it was quite a balancing act.”
Bernstein said others in the firm pulled her aside to talk through her concerns and offered support. She said those early interactions made her want to work with younger women in the firm to help them realize the same thing.
Bernstein said one of the most valuable lessons she’s learned over her many years in public accounting has been to respect individual differences when working with a wide range of clients. Bernstein said this could be as simple as understanding different communication preferences, such as how some clients like to chitchat for a while and others prefer to get straight to the point with no small talk.
“What I try to tell younger people is you just you have to be able to adapt,” she said. “You have to let the people you’re working with know that you respect them and that it's a two-way street.”
Bernstein serves on the accounting advisory committee at Cleveland State University and said she’s passionate about sharing her positive experience with college and high school students.
“It's a great profession,” Bernstein said. “When I look back at my career, I realize what's made me successful and made me really enjoy my career over the years is that I've gotten to deal with such a diverse group of people at all different levels.”