Taking the CPA: Is It Worth It? Controller Lisa Hebb Smith Says “Yes”

Lisa Hebb Smith knew that taking the CPA exam would be a big commitment. And as JustinBradley’s Accounting Manager she already had a full plate. Still, she decided to take it on.

“I knew passing the CPA exam would be important to achieving my career goals,” she recalls. “It would open up more opportunities and establish my credentials as a dedicated financial professional.” So much, in fact, that she feels like passing the CPA exam is just as important as receiving a Master’s degree in accounting.

But tackling the CPA exam is no easy task. Lisa knew she would need a plan to accomplish her goal while maintaining a full-time position at JustinBradley. She decided to focus on one part of the four-part exam at a time. Along with narrowing her focus, she also took a prep class once a week, which meant giving up her Saturdays for almost an entire year. A significant sacrifice while working a 40-hour week, but one that ultimately led to her successful completion of the exam.

A benefit of working as a financial professional while she was studying for the exam was that certain aspects of her studies paralleled her professional experiences. At the time, she was in charge of JustinBradley’s Accounting Operations and Reporting, so studying and working really went hand in hand.

The result of her studies and hard work recently came to fruition as she was promoted from Accounting Manager to Controller at JustinBradley. To those considering taking the CPA exam, she offers this advice: “Understand what study methods work for you—for me it was taking a prep course and doing A LOT of practice questions. Create a plan and stick to it. If you don’t pass an exam on the first try, don’t get discouraged, just take it again and trust that if you continue to study and work toward your goal, you will get there.”

And if career opportunities and the example of Lisa’s promotion aren’t enough to convince you to take the CPA exam, consider this—when she passed her final exam, she and her husband took a nice, long, and very well-deserved vacation.

Congratulations to Lisa on her promotion to Controller, and best of luck to all who decide to take the CPA exam!

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