Michael Kirkland, the president of the NYSSCPA. (Photo courtesy of NYSSCPA Photos)

By Amanda Pecorella

On Thursday, September 12th, Mount Saint Mary College was honored with the presence of some very special guests. Michael Kirkland, the president of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA), held a meeting with local NYSSCPA members to discuss current topics the society is working on.

Mr. Kirkland was joined by his executive director, Joann Barry, named one of the top 100 most influential people by the NYSSCPA, and a number of other leaders from the society. Kirkland led the discussion about the relocation of their headquarters and some of his main focus points for the society. Among them was increasing the membership from over 29,000 to a solid 30,000 and the growth of COAP, a program for incoming high school seniors to learn more about the profession.

Throughout the meeting, Kirkland answered questions and discussed topics with his fellow CPAs with articulation and an acute sense of which details were most important and deserving of the floor.

After the meeting, Mount Messenger got a chance to talk one-on-one with Kirkland. When asked the simple question of why he became a CPA he gave a fairly simple answer. He wanted to follow the footsteps of his father and become a mechanic, but the science classes were just too much for him, so he took a bookkeeping class and it clicked. After that he went on to study at Fordham University, and after 3 attempts, Kirkland was finally triumphant in passing the CPA licensing exam. He never would have expected where his career would take him. He remembers watching television and thinking he would be great for accounting because, as a shy young man, he would be able to sit in his office at a desk and do his work quietly. Little did he know he would be conversing with people daily and constantly running errands to see his clients.

Kirkland’s favorite part about being a CPA, he says, is that “this profession is the gold standard.” When asked about his lengthy career Kirkland says, “This profession has given me so much. Why shouldn’t I want to give back?” Not only as president of the NYSSCPA, but for a long time before then, Kirkland certainly did give back, and one can clearly see he will continue to for as long as he can.