Yesterday, Milwaukee-based Clifton Gunderson, the country's 14th-largest accounting firm, announced that Krista McMasters will be taking over as its CEO in June 2009, marking the first time a female will head a top 25 U.S. accounting firm.
McMasters, Clifton Gunderson's chief practice officer who originally joined the firm in 1978 as an associate accountant, will succeed Carl George, who is stepping down as chief executive officer but will stay on with the firm until 2012.
In a press release announcing the appointment, Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), said that McMasters’ “achievement is an important signal that old barriers are falling." He also pointed out that "today, women make up more than half of new accounting graduates and account for 20 percent of firm partners nationwide.”
Also commenting on the momentous move was Cheryl Leitschuh, who heads the executive committee of the AICPA's work/life and women's initiative. She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "a woman hitting this level in a firm is really a great indication of the work that's been done and the changes that are happening in the profession to accommodate different lifestyles and different career needs."