IPA Profile: Pritpal Kalsi, SC&H Group

Years in Business: 32

Main Office: Sparks, Md.

Staff Size: 375

What is the single biggest challenge facing your firm right now?

It’s no surprise that professional services firms are facing challenges related to workforce trends and overall market uncertainty. The changing nature of the workforce and the increasing competition for top talent remains a major challenge. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, it makes it more difficult for SC&H to attract skilled team members that align with our cultural philosophies.

Another challenge is the uncertainty of the market. The world economy is changing, and no one can predict the future. We anticipate that we may have to adjust our strategy and operations to respond to market fluctuations and client demand shifts. At SC&H, we appreciate that uncertainty may also provide significant long-term opportunities.

Where do you expect to be focusing most of your attention in the next two to three years?

I have outlined a vision for SC&H with a renewed commitment to growth that builds on our past successes. As part of this vision, we will focus on organic growth strategies such as investing in our talent, digital transformation and expanding our portfolio of services. Specifically, through digital transformation and upskilling team members, SC&H can offer a broader range of services and stay ahead of industry trends.

Expanding into new regions is another key strategy to help SC&H differentiate itself as a leading national consulting and financial services firm. Our people-first approach to regional expansion will allow us to offer unique, high-quality service to clients in the new markets.

I am excited about the future. As I mentioned earlier, there is no doubt we face many challenges in the current markets. However, SC&H is committed to maintaining the firm’s entrepreneurial spirit, and being strategic in our approach to growth will be a critical factor in our continued success.

What is the biggest and sometimes missed opportunity for your firm and/or the profession?

I always say that you must fix first and build later. What this means is that to support growth, you must first identify and address inefficiencies within the organization. This may include streamlining processes, automating certain tasks or implementing new technologies that can free up resources and time to support new growth strategies.

Another component to consider is implementing a continuous improvement mindset, which could involve regularly reviewing and refining current processes and procedures. Open communication and team feedback allows issues or inefficiencies to be identified and addressed quickly.

In addition, aligning the company’s growth strategies with its core values and mission is essential. This will help to ensure that the company is focused on the right things and that everyone is working toward a common goal. By having a clear and well-communicated vision, the company can foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork, which is key to achieving accelerated growth.

Finally, it is important to be proactive in seeking out new opportunities for growth, which may include identifying new markets or customer segments, developing new products or services, or exploring different business models. By being open to new ideas and taking calculated risks, anyone can position themselves for long-term success.

What was the best advice you received as a young up-and-comer in the profession?

It’s a journey. Patience and persistence with a clear focus on goals will help minimize being distracted by noise that is inevitable in all long journeys.

I also appreciate my dad’s coaching that nothing fruitful in life is easy. You must work for things that bring fulfillment to you and others. To be able to help others achieve satisfaction in life is a very fortunate responsibility we carry as leaders.

What advice would you offer to someone entering the accounting profession today?

Accounting is a diverse and dynamic field that offers a wide range of career paths and options for growth. From traditional roles such as auditing, tax preparation and financial reporting to more specialized areas such as forensic accounting, financial planning and management consulting, there really is something for everyone in this field.

Accounting is the foundational language of business and accounting is the backbone of any organization. It provides the financial information necessary to make informed business decisions and understand the organization’s financial health. This means that accounting professionals play a critical role in the success of any business, and their skills and expertise are always in high demand.

I also cannot stress enough that the business environment is constantly changing, and accounting professionals must stay current on the latest regulations, technologies and best practices. This requires a commitment to lifelong learning – which is a core value at SC&H – and the ability to adapt to change.

Finally, seeking joy as a career goal is important not only in accounting but in any profession. Having a career that brings joy and fulfillment can positively impact your overall well-being and professional performance. It is important to balance work and personal life, and finding a career that aligns with your values and passion can help achieve that balance.

What motivates you most as a leader?

I have a strong desire to help others and learn new things. I always ask myself about what can be and how to get there to maintain a forward-thinking mindset.

I also love the pursuit of learning something challenging. Accomplishing things that I haven’t done before brings me great joy and fulfillment. It helps me stay relevant in today’s ever-changing environment and keeps me excited about what’s to come. As such, I always have goals that challenge me professionally and personally to grow, adapt and evolve.

 How has your role a leader at the firm changed since you first stepped into the CEO position?

I started in a dual role where I was responsible for operational and leadership responsibilities for a practice area within SC&H and the firm at large. In the early days, I adopted my fix-first-and-build-later approach and focused on understanding SC&H’s existing foundation and opportunities for efficiencies. This evaluation triggered the need for new enterprise tools and disciplines for our strategic planning process.

I transitioned into a full-time CEO role last year and shifted my focus toward understanding the full potential of our team. We have consistently achieved remarkable results and I now focus on how best to accelerate this pursuit for growth by providing everyone with opportunities and resources to excel.

Now in my third year as CEO, I am more precise about the critical long-term goals for our team. I know the importance of maintaining a people-first approach in everything we do. This focus on the well-being and development of our team members is essential for building a strong and successful organization. While I am still learning, I feel more comfortable on how to bring this vision into practical action for the team.

Where do you see the accounting profession in five years? How do you see it changing/developing and/or how would you like it to change?

As I noted earlier, accounting is the foundation of business, and it always will be. With trust being a foundation of the accounting profession, I expect the need for trust services to flourish in the future. I believe that the accounting profession will face talent pipeline challenges. To mitigate this, firms must remain focused on differentiated value to recruit and retain quality people who will possess these rare skillsets.

I would like to see more flexibility and options from business schools for students who wish to pursue accounting as their degree in the future. We need to act urgently to secure a long-term pipeline of future accounting professionals.

What is a book you’d recommend to other leaders?

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is seeing my son Zaki grow up. He is kind, loving and desires to improve the world. He has developed the essential qualities for leading a happy and fulfilling life, and I hope they will serve him well. As a 13-year-old, he has learned that life has many challenges and isn’t always fair. I am proud that he knows that no matter what, he has control over how he reacts to these challenges. Seeing him develop resilience and grit to face life’s obstacles head-on is special. Being a parent is one of the most challenging yet rewarding roles, and I am incredibly proud of my kiddo Zaki.


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