Silvia McClellan, CPA, took an unconventional path to public accounting. After finishing her undergraduate degree and working at Key Bank, she took some time away from the corporate world to run her own bakery. In 2012, refreshed and ready to re-enter the accounting profession, she earned her CPA and decided to make the move to public accounting.
“It was important to me to be with a firm that had great family values,” she said.
She settled at Ciuni & Panichi, Inc. in northeastern Ohio. But she had a tough time with the transition from running a business, and the flexibility it offered, to the demands of tax season.
“I thought, I’m not the only one dealing with this,” she said. “I talked to my female colleagues and they were going through a similar thing.”
Thus was born Ciuni & Panichi’s Women’s Initiative group, started by McClellan to create a supportive and collaborative meeting place for women. The group focuses on professional development opportunities, issues at the firm and challenges in the accounting industry as a whole.
Many of the challenges the group discusses are not limited to women’s issues. Increasingly firms and businesses are offering flexible scheduling options to help everyone find the right work/life balance. Ciuni & Panichi’s policy allows staff members to work remotely when possible.
The group recently expanded to include members from industries outside of accounting, such as banking and law. It has also attracted younger women who are new to the firm. Their participation has shifted and enriched some of the group’s discussion topics while maintaining the focus on supporting, educating and promoting women to help prepare them to achieve their full potential.
McClellan is involved at the state level too. As a member of OSCPA’s Women’s Initiatives, she serves on the Cleveland committee and helps plan events.
“Women tend to be a little risk-averse, and want to be perfectly ready for a new opportunity,” McClellan said. “I thought what [Deloitte CEO] Cathy Englebert said was right. She said the best advice she’s received is, ‘Don't stand still, take risks and take on new responsibilities and opportunities.’ I think that quote is great for women in general.”
OSCPA Women’s Initiatives is dedicated to providing resources and opportunities to help women achieve their definition of success. Stay tuned to the OSCPA Store for upcoming events in a city near you.
Cleveland-area professionals interested in participating in Ciuni and Panichi’s group can contact Silvia McClellan at via email.