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Leader of the Pack
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
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One week he may be in Vegas. The next, California. But for the first time in a fast-paced 40-year career, Rich Caturano ’74, MST ’85 isn’t worried about the endpoint. A yearlong appointment as chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) finds him relishing the ride.
“Every year in a CPA firm, you set a budget, you set goals, and you’re focused on the destination,” says the alumnus, partner and national leader of culture, diversity and inclusion at McGladrey LLP. “The great thing about my year as chairman was being able to enjoy the journey: the experience of being chairman, the people I’ve met, the conversations I’ve had, the challenges we face.”
And the challenges are many. Caturano points to some 30 key industry-wide initiatives underway by the AICPA, including globalizing the CPA brand and simplifying the accounting standards at private companies.
“I’ve spent my life advising private middle-market companies, and for 35 years we’ve been looking at the growing complexity of accounting principles. At most companies, they’re getting to be way over people’s heads and a little bit unusable,” he says. “So one of my key goals was making sure we made some progress in the private company financial reporting area.”
Minding the Gaps
Of all the items on the AICPA chairman’s to-do list, increasing diversity and inclusion in the accounting industry has been a special focus for Caturano. Despite substantial jumps in numbers of female and ethnic minority CPAs since he joined the field in 1973, gaps remain.
“Minorities represent about 20 percent of our population at CPA firms,” he notes. “That’s a lot lower than the U.S. population of minorities at 37 percent.”
The issue hits close to home. Having grown up outside Boston in a family of Italian immigrants, Caturano remembers what it’s like to feel like an outsider at work.
“Predominantly, the old business world in Boston consisted of people who were different from me. They weren’t Italian immigrants, that’s for sure,” he says. “They had certain impressions of Italian immigrants, certain stereotypes. Over the years, I’ve had to overcome a lot of that.”
Overcame and then some. From his start as a staff accountant, Caturano has gone on to work at the highest levels of the profession. The private accounting and business services firm that he co-founded in 1978 grew to be the largest in New England and ranked among the top 40 nationwide. McGladrey acquired Caturano and Company in 2010.
A New Path
The AICPA role set Caturano’s own career on a new path. In July 2013, he took up duties as national leader of culture, diversity and inclusion at McGladrey.
“A lot of people think the way to achieve diversity is to go out and hire a lot of minorities,” he explains. “But unless you have an inclusive environment — where people feel part of the company’s culture and included in decision-making — minorities won’t want to work for you. And those who might be convinced to work for you won’t stay."
“The good news with respect to diversity is that our profession is one that judges people based on their performance,” he adds. “Companies want to be diverse, they just don’t know how to do it. So we need to get the how-to out there.”
Zen on Wheels
His work on diversity and other critical issues for the profession is not something Caturano expected to wrap up neatly during his term as AICPA chairman, which ended in late October.
“It’s a long-term thing,” he says. “We’ve got to lay the groundwork and hope that we’re laying the right one, so that five years from now or 10 years from now, we’ll be able to see meaningful results.”
Such patience may seem at odds with Caturano’s goal-driven nature. But “enjoy the ride” has become something of a mantra for the 60-year-old. The philosophy turns literal when it comes to the Harley-Davidson Road King parked in his garage.
“Driving that motorcycle without getting hurt is a challenge for me,” Caturano says of rides around hometown Gloucester, Mass., and elsewhere that help focus and clear his mind.
“My goal is to enjoy life with my kids and my wife, rather than to leave a lot behind. What I’m going to leave behind is my mark on the profession and a lot of happy memories for my family.”