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From Mentee to Mentor: Kristen Clark

Employee Spotlight: Kristen Clark

As The Bonadio Group’s first female and first “home-grown” Partner, Kristen Clark has shown leadership and dedication from her first days with the firm. Kristen serves as the first female member of Bonadio’s Management Committee as well as the Practice Leader of the Firm’s Professional Excellence Division. Additionally, she is the Office Managing Partner for our Central New York region, a member of the Board of Directors, and is the Firm’s Chief Risk Officer.

In looking back at her own career experiences at The Bonadio Group, Kristen remembers and values mentorship as a guiding force for her:

“I believe that mentors play a critical role in the advancement of someone’s personal career, especially in the accounting industry,” said Kristen. “I am so grateful for the support I had throughout my path at the firm from colleagues who truly helped me build my career – Tom Bonadio, Jerry Archibald, Jim Zielinski, Mario Urso, among so many others. These forward-thinking Partners saw the potential in me; encouraged, supported and sponsored me. As a young professional in a growth-oriented environment, I was given many diverse opportunities to interact with clients, shadow partners and ‘learn by doing’. These experiences built my confidence and broke down stereotypes that may have existed in a more traditional and patriarchal environment.”

Throughout her time with Bonadio, Kristen has been instrumental in leading the firm to grow to over 800 professionals across ten offices. When Kristen first joined The Bonadio Group in 1986, the firm was made up of only 30 people, and there were no female partners. Since then, the firm is a frontrunner in gender equity, with over 39 percent female Partners and Principals, which is well over the industry average.

“While mentors don’t always need to look exactly like us, I think it’s incredibly important for young professionals to resonate and connect with their mentors,” said Kristen. “Back in the day, there weren’t any mentors who looked like me or who had “been” me. Moving this needle helped females entering the industry find their place and grow.”

Over the years, Kristen has moved from a mentee to a mentor role, though she continues to learn every day. Her passion for mentorship is demonstrated by her heavy involvement in the firm’s Partner Mentor Program, which pairs each Partner with one or more mentees to provide critical career guidance. Currently, Kristen has 11 mentees who are not direct reports and who work in various divisions and offices throughout the firms, as well as currently being at different levels. She meets with these mentees on a regular basis to discuss all things growth, development, and opportunity.

Manager, Kylene Fitsik, considers her time as a mentee with Kristen as, “extremely valuable for [her] success and advancement.”

“Kristen has provided me with opportunities to grow and has encouraged me to create my own opportunities as well,” says Kylene. “I am so appreciative of her support and encouragement through our mentee/mentor relationship so far and looking forward to the continuation of it.”

The mentor/mentee relationship involves work and commitment from both parties, according to Kristen, and to be truly effective, must involve buy-in from the top.

“Bonadio’s creation and implementation of a formal mentorship program shows our commitment to the advancement of everyone at our firm,” added Kristen. “All of us are willing to take on the responsibility of having open conversations and identifying strengths in those we work with to help everyone reach their highest potential. But even with a formal mentor program, the role of mentor and mentee must be customized for each relationship and will likely evolve over time. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula for a successful mentor/mentee relationship.”

To learn more about a career with The Bonadio Group and the different programs we implement, please visit www.bonadio.com/careers.

This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.