136: Focus On Others – An Interview With Jim Wallace, CEO of BPM

07.16.2019 - By Life In Accounting - The Where Accountants Go podcast

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Jim Wallace, the CEO of BPM, a top 50 national CPA firm, joined us to share the story of his career, thoughts on diversity and inclusion, and insights into servant leadership on this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast.
Be A Good Father
As with all episodes, we began this one by asking how Jim originally chose accounting as a career.  For Jim, it came down to one simple purpose: to be a good father.  As he discusses later in the program, his father was a major positive influence on his life, and he wanted to be the same for his children.  Accounting as a career choice than ensured he would have both the flexibility he needed as well as the dependability that he could make a good living.
Becoming CEO
All except a very short portion of Jim’s career has been in public accounting.  First with one of the Big 8 firms, then 25 years with Rehmann as they grew to over $100M in revenues, to becoming the CEO of BPM in 2015, which is one of the largest CPA firms in California.  One of the “secrets to success” that Jim cites is the focus on replacing yourself as you continue to grow.  It’s only through being able to replace yourself that you are able to eventually move up.  Doing so prevents you from getting stuck in any one position, and also proves your abilities as a developer of people.
Diversity, Inclusion, & Servant Leadership
Diversity and inclusion are a focus for Jim as well as the firm he leads.  Through town hall meetings, measuring engagement on surveys and other analytical instruments, and ensuring that active discussions (or even debates) occur when making important decisions, they are fostering an environment that has diversity of thought as well as a place where people feel comfortable to be themselves.

Servant leadership is a core philosophy that was ingrained in Jim from his father, who was a CEO as well.  His father always stressed that in order to be successful, focus on helping others instead of yourself.  By helping others achieve what they desire, you naturally will end up becoming the person that you most desire to be.

This episode is definitely filled with great insight on important topics for today, as well as life success in general.  I hope you enjoy listening to the show as much as I did recording it.

Other episodes that may interest you:  Paula Gold-Williams and Kimberly Ellison-Taylor

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