My First EDPA ACCESS Annual Conference Experience By Sarah McGill, Controller, Hill & Partners

 Sarah McGill  Controller, Hill & Partners

Sarah McGill
Controller, Hill & Partners

Last December, I had the opportunity to go to EDPA ACCESS, an industry conference held annually in Carlsbad, CA, where I collided with some of our industry’s leading financial professionals. As Controller at Hill & Partners, I followed the Management track at ACCESS and attended sessions with CFOs, controllers, directors of finance, presidents and owners alike, meeting people from around the world and discussing the challenges and concerns we face within our organizations.

Three different networking events kicked off the conference. Myself, Hill & Partners President & CEO Michael McMahon, and a couple dozen other participants signed up for the electric bike tour riding down the coastline to a lagoon. We formed connections with one another that lasted throughout the conference. To those of us who are newer to the industry or the conference, the timing of these events was invaluable.

Dan Serebin, CFO of Derse and Vice President of the EDPA, kicked off the Management track with a Management Issues Forum. Later on he led the CFO Roundtable. Both sessions are great opportunities for finance leaders and/or C-level attendees to have an open discussion on topics that are top of mind in our businesses without “sharing our secret sauce,” as Serebin likes to say. 

There is indisputable evidence that being able to connect with like-minded professionals allows you to build confidence, which strengthens the work we do in our own offices. While the sessions I attended provide validation that our organization is on a solid path for success, it also validated that our companies all face similar hurdles. We discussed workforce challenges, the decline in skilled labor, maneuvering through the ever changing complexities of sales & personal property tax, communication nuances between the front office and the shop or warehouse, M&A agreements, getting paid, union challenges, pension plans, and so much more. The time rushed by and we could have gone on for hours more. Serebin, well aware of this, encouraged the room to continue these conversations throughout the conference and beyond.

The conversations did continue. The dialogue ranged from sales compensation packages, when an operator/owner should step out of the financial leadership role and hire a controller, how a vendor partner could ensure success with a recent capital investment, and even ways the EDPA Foundation gives back to industry peers and their families.

When I returned to the office after ACCESS last year, I had new industry connections, ideas, and a renewed investment in the success of our industry. I’m looking forward to ACCESS 2018 for continued leadership, taking-in new finance and management sessions with a collective effort from financial leaders to connect throughout the conference.