Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

April 27th, 2022 by Brooke Kayira 17 minutes read

It’s with great pleasure that we announce the Top 50 #WomeninAccounting for 2021! A continually growing and successful initiative to recognize women who are driving change and creating opportunities for the next generation within the Accounting and Bookkeeping industry.

This year’s awards theme ‘Celebrating Our Unique Differences’ set out to commemorate the diverse stories of women in our industry, striving towards personal and professional progress. The women who are providing a space for limitations, barriers, discrimination and inequality to be broken down. We are championing those different voices making intentional and meaningful change, allowing a wide range of lived experiences different from our own to be seen.

The 2021 awards garnered record submissions, with our Top 50 hailing from across the world reinforcing the phenomenal global impact being made. These 50 women are changemakers, trailblazers and leaders who have ranked the highest with Ignition’s awards criteria taking into account this year’s key pillars of experience, encouragement and empowerment:

  • Nominees professional achievements and how that has been informed by their unique lived experience and story

  • Active and practical encouragement for the next generation of female leaders in the industry

  • Support and inspiration for others to reach their full potential and claim full confidence of their strength as a woman

We want to thank each and every one of our nominees and Top 50 for participating, and for truly paying it forward. The Ignition team and judging panel is beyond grateful for your work and the impact you’re making for generations to come. You continue to forge a path and light the way for all women to be supported and recognized in the advancements of this field. Your dedication to the Accounting industry is applauded, and your colleagues, teammates and community hold your mentorship and guidance in the highest regard.

Let’s celebrate every individual selected for the 2021 Top 50 Women in Accounting! Join us in supporting these incredible women and help us keep the important conversation going all year long with #WomenInAccounting. It’s a great way to share memorable moments in the workplace and inspire others while doing so!

From the judging panel

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Emma Crawford Falekaono - Head of EMEA, Ignition

“Every year I am astonished at the quality of the nominations we receive from around the globe. It is inspiring to celebrate the outstanding women leading the charge, driving change and creating opportunities for the next generation within the accounting industry. It ensures we reflect and recognize the ongoing struggle to break down barriers, discrimination and inequality that women face in the industry while encouraging us all to have the strength to stand up and break the bias. Thank you for being the drivers of positive change.”

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Twyla Verhelst - Head of Accountant Channel, Freshbooks

"The experience of judging the Top 50 Women in Accounting was eye opening - I knew there was impactful work being done in our profession as it relates to equality and breaking the bias, but after reading the stories of the nominees, I realized there's so much going on every day, behind the scenes, progressing our industry forward in ways I didn't even realize. The amount of experience, encouragement and empowerment taking place all over the globe truly makes me feel honoured and proud to be part of the accounting industry."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Jackeline Velez

Director, U.S. Hispanic, Xero

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Francesca Deery

VP People & Culture, Ignition
Top50announced2

"Alex has been a huge support in creating and mentoring women during Covid times. The group is still going to this day."

"With her volunteer work at the state and national level, Alex strives to promote and educate young professionals on the CPA profession and career possibilities, helping them build networks to call upon as they grow in their career."
"Not only is Alice Ruhe one of very few female Liquidators ad Registered Trustees in Bankruptcy, she advocates passionately for other women in accounting, legal and related industries."
"Amanda is working to create a change in the financial education for women in business to empower them to achieve all of their goals in business and life."
"Today on IWD it seems fitting to nominate an amazing woman who has coached me in duplicating what she has achieved as a mum of two boys and accounting firm owner like myself in creating a work life balance."

"Angela has created a wonderful business that stays true to her values and promotes a feminine leadership."

"Working in the field of eCommerce, Anita has come up with many strategies to help solve the ever-changing sales platforms. She makes sure that the information and payouts are being recorded accurately and efficiently to provide our clients with excellent data to make their business decisions."

"Awonke has not only inspired the young unemployed youth in South Africa, but she is also motivating and training the youth to start their own businesses."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Bridget Kaigler

Bringing Leadership Back, LLC and Amedisys, Inc. - United States

"Bridget is a CPA, CGMA (Certified Global Management Accountant), CMA (Certified Management Accountant), corporate professional, entrepreneur, executive board member, diversity and inclusion leader, leadership enthusiast, non-profit promoter, mentor, tax expert, philanthropist, and community leader. She is a visible role model and one to be watched for her selfless commitment to serve."
"Having started her career at PwC as an Audit Senior in 2010, Candice has gone on to become the youngest female equity partner at the 13th largest public practice firm in the UK, overseeing their Cayman practice, in a mere handful of years."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Carla Caldwell

Caldwell Consulting & Training LLC, DBA Candella Accounting & Advisory Services - United States

"Carla is such an incredible influence, not just to her team of all-female employees, but also within the accounting profession. The amount of time, effort, and love she puts into what she does should be recognized."
"Caroline is a driver of big impact to the industry and a supporter of other women."
"Cecilia is a tireless ambassador for the profession and also an accomplished practitioner. I can’t think of anyone more qualified to get this award than Cecilia Leung!"
"If there was ever a young leader that cares about the profession is Char Rhinehart. From joining boards at the ICPA and AICPA level, to traveling across the country in person and via zoom to encourage more high school and college students to join in the accounting and CPA sectors."
"Cindy is passionate about her bookkeeping business, but what really fuels her is seeing other women shine in their bookkeeping businesses. She is a super star and truly helps others shine bright each day."
"Di is so supportive of anyone in business, it's innately what she does. But she is especially supportive of other bookkeepers throughout NZ. She embraces them, provides guidance and support to those building businesses themselves, and employs or contracts others through her business, in turn providing mentoring and support so they can grow too."
"IRIS' workforce is 42% female, which is more than double the IT sector average, and Elona is determined to increase it to 50%. She recognises the need to take an active part in altering the total talent pool to do so, while also tackling other areas of underrepresentation."
"Gina has incredible competence and courage. She left a Partnership at Deloitte to join a startup company called Falkbuilt. As the CFO, Gina has led the finance team and Falkbuilt to record-breaking revenue in their first year of operations!"

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Heather Kennedy

K.I.S. Accounting & Bookkeeping Professionals - Australia
"Heather is undeniably talented and her expertise continues to impress. She has a passion and drive that makes her work all the more personal and detailed. She is a role model."
"Inna has made a name for herself and her firm, KORE Accounting Solutions, by positioning herself on the forefront of the legal accounting space. In addition to being a successful business woman, Inna is also a mother of four boys and an actively involved community member, regularly donating her time to help others."
"Isabella has been and continues to be an inspiration to all, providing considered advice with a personalised focus on her clients which includes the benefit of an extensive cross-border network."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones Accounting Services, LLC - United States

"Jessica's continued efforts to provide a foundational bookkeeping practice for small and micro businesses are nothing short of stellar. Her dedication to meeting these needs vice focusing on tax filing has left a major impression."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Jo Wood

The 6 Figure Bookkeeper Ltd - United Kingdom

"Jo not only runs a successful Bookkeeping business herself but she also has created a community alongside Zoe Whitman for other Bookkeepers to come together, learn, grow and connect. She has helped so many others thrive and for that reason she is an ideal candidate for this award!"
"Karla is a visionary and thought-provoking industry leader Making A Difference both in our industry and outside our industry. She has a big heart but with the courage to be bold and take a principled stand for what she believes in... And she's just getting started!"
"Kat has worked in the accounting industry for over 15 years, briefly in practice before moving to tax and accounting software. She is passionate about understand accountants and supporting the through change. She is an ally and champion in terms of D&I which she takes on as an active side line to her role of leading GTM strategy at Xero."
"Kathryn (Kat) is an inspiration to everyone around her. Kat works tirelessly to help everyone achieve their best especially with her work with our trainees. Kat is supportive of her peers and dedicated to her clients."

"Katie is a breath of fresh air in the Accounting and Finance community. She is intuitive and not afraid of embracing change and challenging the status quo. She has a very "can do" attitude and advocates for accountants to change their mindset about marketing and how to serve their ideal clients."

"Katie is passionate about helping female business owners flourish as well as lifting up other females in the accounting and finance sector. Late last year Katie launched her new accounting business PropelHer. PropelHer connects same-stage, same-sector female business owners so they can encourage and elevate each other. PropelHer kicks aside old business norms and builds a business world where sharing enhances success and speaking about challenges and fears equals strength."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Kelly Eke

Precision Taxation Accounting & Management - Australia

"When it comes to women driving positive change and advocating diversity, equity, and inclusion within the accounting industry and the broader community, I cannot think of anyone more active than Kelly. I have had the pleasure of having Kelly as a Team Member for almost twenty years. She inspires and pushes me to be the best version of myself and, in turn, our firm, Precision, to continually strive for excellence." "Kristen is an outstanding servant to her clients and her team. She drives and expects high performance whilst fostering a culture of inclusion and support. She is highly regarded by her peers and her clients and is truely and outstanding woman in accounting."
"Kyelie is not only a great leader in her field, having won 4 national accounting awards within the last 4 years but she is a woman who truly cares.Her honest, direct and "keeping it real" approach to how she manages all of her commitments is refreshing and what makes her such a desired member of our accounting community."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Lielette Calleja

All That Counts Pty Ltd & Institute of Public Accountants - Australia
"Lielette has become one of the most influential women in our industry, winning many and various awards over the years and in recent times has lead the way working for the IPA as their Chief Accounting Technician and Inaugural member of the AAT Advisory Committee and has helped develop best practice Professional Development for bookkeepers to ensure all BAS agents are upskilled to the highest level. This level of commitment to the industry is a selfless way to better the industry as whole."
"Lorraine is not only a highly successful digital practice owner herself, but what makes Lorraine deserve this award is the way she is so uniquely passionate and supportive of other accountants across all professions. Lorraine gives so much of her time for (free) evenings and weekends to support other accountants both technically but also to help them grow their own successful practice."
"I was immediately impressed by Madeline’s spirit, vision and drive to make a difference in the world by empowering women founders in the accounting and finance realm. She has passion, vision AND ability to execute. Madeline is a leader with a big heart AND big talent who inspires positive disruption in our profession."
"Mailene strives to educate women about their super to put them in control of their future."
"Marie is a powerhouse who is scaling up her firm while also brining attention to the topic of female led firms in accounting."
“The wealth of experience that Martine willingly shares has been invaluable to me, teaching me a high level of bookkeeping skills across a large scope of industries and enabling me to have the confidence to move forward with my own business.”

"As a professional trainer and thought leader, Melisa has clients all over the country who rely on her to provide relevant, up to date, engaging custom training so that they have the skills necessary to better serve their clients. Melisa uses her background in instructional design to make her classes impactful to an adult learner and practical so that firms receive the highest return on their training investment."

"Michele has worked super hard at growing her business. She has always included people that needed a chance. And, she is always helping others be it with charity or helping people connect to start their own businesses. She is an inspiration!"
"Michelle, Founder of Lantern Partners, provides CFO services to start ups and scale ups and providing opportunities for ambitious women who want to work flexibly within the industry."
"Michelle does an amazing job at working with our clients to help them understand their financials in a way that makes sense to them and how their business works. Michelle is a strong team leader that demonstrates resilience & compassion and her dedication is inspiring to all who know her."
"Petrina has been an amazing believer in me and has helped me to grow in my career more that I ever thought possible. Petrina is an exceptional accountant who is the manager of our Clayfield team. She took on the task at a difficult time for the firm and have since the team flourish and grow."
"Sarah is the strongest most passionate woman within CPA’s public practice community. She always sharing her ideas thoughts and intellectual property with peers and Xero community. I admire her dedication in supporting the creative industries and the accounting community and the way she champions change in everything she does. The industry would not be the same without leading women like Sarah."

Top 50 Women in Accounting 2021

Sarah Elliott

Intend2Lead LLC and Ellivate Alliance - United States

"Sarah’s mission is to usher in a more conscious, evolved leadership model in the accounting profession. She believes in the human spirit, and that our desire for purpose, meaning and belonging will create the possibilities our profession needs."
"A top woman in accounting should be someone who is looking to move the industry forward through their support and efforts. Sherrell is doing that by helping bring more awareness to the industry and to continue to grow it by offering a bookkeeper training program that is rooted in accounting and technology. She designed this training to not only help colleagues find good talent but to also help train others on how to be good bookkeepers and also build a bookkeeping business."
"Stephanie has a wonderful business building bookkeepers into business owners, so they can have a sustainable business that supports themselves and their families, and ensures they value themselves and their work. Her contribution to the industry is really valued."
"Susan is a dedicated practitioner, innovative tax strategist, incredible business leader and fierce advocate of the accounting profession. She is on a mission to change the way accounting firms operate so that more people are attracted to and stay in public accounting."
"She’s helped so many rural business owners in Covid, she developed a business mentoring program that she pitched to our local government & got funding to help more than 50 business owners understand their numbers."
"Vanessa is a fantastic and energetic people manager. Great at networking, the sales process and a fantastic mentor to those around her. Constantly networking, upbeat, positive and a cheeky sense of humour. Her new CSO role is such a great fit for her."

"Victoria started a Network for Nigeria Women in Accounting and Finance, where members are equipped to hone their accounting skills and stay updated in the profession. The network focuses on Training, Career Development, Advocacy and Networking. She's a member of the ACCA Global Council."

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