Path to Director: 8 Questions with Shirley Ma

shirley Ma headshotShirley Ma, who has led Holtzman’s Tax provision efforts since she joined the firm, was promoted to Director this January. In her new role, she will focus on leading and growing our firm’s Accounting for Income Taxes (ASC 740) practice. Shirley will also help lead large corporate tax engagements as well as international compliance across multiple industries. We recently caught up with Shirley, to learn more about her career journey and the events that have paved her way to becoming a Director here at Holtzman Partners. Here is what she had to say.

What qualities do you feel make you a successful accountant?

I am passionate about my job, helping clients, and I always maintain my curiosity. Every morning, I am happy to come to the office (or open the computer in our current remote working environment) and always eager to learn something new. By the end of the day, I feel fulfilled with the progress I’ve made. Little by little over the years, I have accumulated knowledge and have become more confident in my abilities.

What are you most eager to tackle in your new leadership role?

I am looking forward to bringing my team up to speed so they can manage their projects independently. In the last two years, I have witnessed dramatic growth in our Tax practice and on my team. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge with them and have the faith that they will be great project managers in a few years.

How has being a part of Holtzman shaped you into the leader you are today?

My leadership abilities have grown through the trust of our leadership team and support from my staff. I know I am not alone and have the confidence to lead the practice. I am grateful that my supervisor gives me the freedom to manage our Tax practice based on my own pace and preference.

What has been your favorite project/client engagement at Holtzman so far?

I really enjoy working with one of our clients who is a large software developer. It can sometimes be challenging, given the size of the company because I am exposed to many complicated issues that challenge my mind and push me to think outside the box. I am grateful to have the best client contact there, who is very responsive and knowledgeable.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced has been balancing my work and personal life. Like most other careers, there are constant deadlines to meet for tax professionals. With only 24 hours in a day, it can be hard to determine the best way to allocate time with my family and complete all my work. I struggled at the very beginning of my career but have now reached a good place of balance between these two areas.

Amid these challenges, what has been your biggest motivator?

Each day, I strive to be a better person than I was yesterday. I try to learn from all lessons and avoid making the same mistake twice.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

My bachelor’s degree was in finance, so I took both business and accounting courses in college. I quickly discovered that I felt more excited when I took the tax classes. Luckily, I chose tax as my career and have loved it ever since! I especially enjoy specializing in Accounting for Income Taxes (ASC 740).

What is your best advice for young accountants today?

Do not constrain yourself to your daily tasks, instead explore new topics to gain and expand your knowledge, even if you only learn a little bit per day.


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