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A Conversation with Rachel Sargentpresident, Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs South Central Chapter, and CFO, PPC Lubricants Inc.

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Rachel Sargent
Rachel Sargent - (Photo / )

Rachel Sargent, 33, was recently elected president of the South Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or PICPA, for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

She is a member of PICPA’s corporate finance cabinet. She is also CFO of PPC Lubricants Inc. in Jonestown.

Sargent has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from Lebanon Valley College.

She, her husband and their three boys live in Manheim.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your term as president of the PICPA South Central Chapter?

A: To get more members engaged, getting people more involved, helping them understand what our profession’s about and the professional side of what PICPA offers and also the fun, more interpersonal networking side. My initiative is to try to do “plus one.” I’m asking every member to do one more event than they did in the prior year, just something else to get them more engaged in the organization.

Why is membership in professional associations such as PICPA important to business leaders?

As a business leader you always have to be looking in front of you and behind you. We need that pipeline of CPAs to hand the baton off to, so you need to help develop new leaders. I feel like I’m in middle of helping to develop new leaders but also I want to pull from other people involved in this organization. I’m on the private side of accounting, so I don’t have within my own organization a lot of accountants to bounce stuff off of, or see what their career path has been, how do you get there, where is everyone going in the profession. An organization like PICPA gives you an opportunity to do that.

The other side is the legislative arm that works to help lobby and push forward any type of agenda that would help our profession. We recently helped get some rules changed on the CPA exam and licensing requirements.

Chapter members volunteer in local schools to teach financial literacy and discuss careers in accounting. Tell us about the program and what it does for young people.

We have a career and colleges day, and bring in some high school students and get a panel of different CPAs. We might have some from public accounting, private, government, nonprofit, and they come in and speak to high school students about what a CPA actually does. The misnomer is we’re just number crunchers. I like to think we’re a lot more than that. You’re expected to have the technical answers but there’s a lot of soft skills needed. Most recently our chapter partnered with Junior Achievement and went into Cocalico High School for a financial literacy program. We did a budget exercise with the kids, took them through a life scenario and then walked them through that. That was Junior Achievement’s program but we’re trying to see how we can have our outreach go even deeper.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Probably running, when I have time outside. I have three younger boys so I spend most of my days pushing the baby in the jogging stroller and the other two are on bikes or scooters.

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