CPA sees RISCPA as key component of lifelong learning

Susan LaPanne, PH.D, CPA, CFE, CGMA is a numbers person. As a CPA, she likes when things add up. But she also has an appreciation for the written word, and the psychology behind human behavior. To that end, it should come as no surprise

that as an undergrad at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, she doubled-majored in English and Psychology.

The business side of her educational journey would come later, when LaPanne earned a Master of Science degree in Accounting at the University of Rhode Island. She would earn her doctoral degree in Organization and Management from Capella University. The way LaPanne sees it, those academic disciplines interact neatly. In fact, she said, the courses she took in English and Psychology have provided a solid foundation for her career as an accountant. 

“It doesn’t sound like a particularly appropriate training program for an accountant,” said LaPanne. “But the English Literature training provided me with writing and critical analytical skills. The program in Psychology at Mount Holyoke was a research-based program, so we learned how to do literature searches, as well as testing and statistical analysis. All of those skills are important to me as an accountant.”   

Now, the crossing of those paths makes perfect sense. LaPanne uses all of those skills as Associate Commissioner for Finance and Management at the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education She was appointed to the post in September 2007. Prior to joining the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, LaPanne served as a healthcare financial officer for over 20 years and later as full time faculty at the Bristol Community College in the Business and Information Management area. She has also served as an Associate Professor with the University of Maryland and Associate Faculty for Post University and Southern New Hampshire University.

She became a CPA in 1990, a Certified Fraud Examiner in 2014 and a CGMA in 2015. 

For LaPanne, life has always been about learning. That was the primary reason she joined the RISCPA.

“I became involved in the RISCPA a decade ago, as it provided excellent continuing professional education courses,” said LaPanne. “In addition to the excellent programs the RISCPA offers, the association also provides significant networking opportunities for all of us. As my career has continued, I have found long-lasting colleagues at RISCPA functions and programs. I also love working with the wonderful staff. They are all so incredibly accommodating and helpful.”

LaPanne recommends a RISCPA membership as an invaluable resource and a priority for newly minted CPAs.

“It is extremely important that young CPAs and other new entrants into the profession take advantage of the educational opportunities at the RISCPA,” said LaPanne. “On-going education is extremely important in the strengthening of our skills and in the maintenance of the vocabulary of our profession. I believe that this is particularly true in the area of ethics where we all need to be vigilant that we have a vocabulary for the discussion of critical issues that we face in the workplace and with clients. Without the vocabulary and the community that understands and supports the need for an ethical environment, these issues may go without detection. Being involved in a professional community outside of the workplace helps all of us maintain our objectivity and context, as well as our technical skills.”