Working towards CPA license

September 2019

An executive for one of the companies I interviewed at asked me a hypothetical - If I could pick only 1 option out of the following 3 choices, which would it be and why?

  • CEO of a small company
  • CTO of a big company
  • CFO of a big company

It was an introspective question that should have allowed for much more time to think, but with the time pressure of an interview setting my gut instinct told me CFO of a big company. I gave it a few hours more thought after the interview and came up with the same answer. But pondering the question gave me a better understanding of what I need to do with my career going forward.

If there were a fourth option, CEO of a big company, I would have immediately responded with that answer. But for this hypothetical, I thought having less power at a bigger company would result in having a bigger overall impact. Next, I compared the positions of CTO and CFO. I picked CFO over CTO because I believe software engineering is more of a commodity than the understanding of finance. In my opinion, an excellent CTO can be hired, but an excellent CFO is much harder to find.

With that understanding, I knew I eventually had to get the CPA license. It became even more clear while interviewing for accounting positions. With my software engineering skills, the CPA license would have set me far ahead of most other candidates competing for the same job. At this point, I think a CPA license would have given me and extra 30k annually in compensation. So my new mission is to become a CPA. By the end of this year, I will have passed all the required credits in order to take the CPA exam. My plan is to begin studying for the exam at the start of next year and pass all 4 parts by the end of next year.