Michael F. Wade, CPA, teaches accounting full time at the University of Louisville’s College of Business while maintaining a CPA practice. His areas of teaching interest are auditing, managerial accounting and accounting information systems.
Michael is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. His most challenging military assignment was the officer in charge of the Army Logistics Operation Center at the Pentagon three months after the 9/11 attack. He also held a number of management positions in finance and accounting at UPS. In his free time, Michael is an avid golfer, tennis player and collegiate/USTA tennis official. Mr. Wade is also the advisor to the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).
UofL: Discuss your role as faculty advisor for NABA.
Wade: “There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela’s quote exemplifies my own career path. Upon retiring from the Army/Army Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel and then from UPS, I pursued a position with UofL. This has led to me teaching Auditing and Accounting Information Systems. During the past decade at UofL I have taught Principles of Financial Accounting, Principles of Managerial Accounting and Cost Accounting.
From my father to my first accounting teacher, to my commanding officers who instilled a need to be “technically competent and tactfully proficient,” I have a passion to raise my students up to the next level.
NABA’s motto is “Lift as we climb.” I try to live it every day in every way.
UofL: Tell us a little more about NABA, the program itself, and some of the activities the organization does.
Wade: While the focus of NABA is minority business students, membership is open to any student enrolled in the College of Business.
The NABA Leadership Development Program focuses on those soft skills needed to be successful in business. The sessions include identity branding, project management, time management and other points of interest. The exposure and access to veteran accounting professionals will allow students to intrinsically be prepared to excel in their field. The overall goal of the program is to increase the level of exposure and access for the College of Business students. We have a student chapter here at UofL with an undergrad membership.
UofL: What are some benefits to partnering companies?
Wade: NABA provides a holistic view of the College of Business students outside of the traditional recruiting process. Firms are now looking at freshmen and sophomores for internship, so this program provides another avenue to assist firms in determining the students who are a fit for their respective companies.
UofL: It seems like your own teaching philosophy is reflected in NABA.
Wade: Absolutely! My belief is that we continue to recruit and retain quality participants who have an interest in business, most specifically accounting. My passion is to pave the way for others. I continuously learn about best practices and current practices in the field of accounting and business. In addition, providing UofL students access to industry and CPA firms outside of the normal recruiting process is out-of-the-box thinking which is an opportunity to appeal to the brightest UofL students. Providing continuity, as is my belief, not only benefits the students, but significantly impacts the global field of accounting.
Everything in life is connected to accounting. (Laughter) The most effective CPAs are the one who can connect with people, and have the ability to organize their thoughts, recognize the skill sets of others and effectively combine the two.
UofL: You place a real emphasis on soft skills when talking to your students.
Wade: I have begun to integrate more soft skills into my curriculum… a little more goes in every year. I think teaching soft skills goes a long way into being a good mentor.
UofL: Which soft skill would you say is the most important one for students to walk away with?
Wade: Time management, without a doubt! If you can graduate with the ability to organize and prioritize your clock, you will be that much more prepared for what your career throws at you. There’s a lot to cover in a class, and just because it’s assigned and not discussed in depth in the classroom, does not mean it is not important. Being able to figure out not only how much time should be given to a task, but what is the essential part of a task to accomplish is the difference between “I didn’t have the time to do X, Y, or Z” and “I got done what I needed to get done.” There will never be enough time if you try and give every task (big or small) an equal amount of attention. We’re talking big picture here, and if you can begin to think about those priorities when it comes to class and homework, you are well on your way to mastering time management.
Being able to teach soft skills like time management goes back to the idea of teaching our students to think like a professional before they are in a professional setting. If a student is required to go to organizational events, or volunteer while they are in school, when the time comes to put those “expected” hours as part of your job, it’s not such a shift in mindset. It’s just what you do.
Like time management, once you make the time to volunteer a part of your schedule, it becomes a natural part of not only your day, but your life. The sooner students get involved, the sooner they learn the value of being involved, and ultimately they hopefully stay involved. As instructors, we plant the seed. Being a member in NABA [while a student] plants the seed. I may not see the fruits of that seed, but I know how my own career grew as a result of what my mentors instilled in me.