Accounting Energy 50: I – Z

Rich Jania

Jania is New Jersey partner in charge at CBIZ Marks Paneth. The firm traces its roots to 1907 and now boasts a team of nearly 700 professionals. It provides a range of audit, accounting, tax and consulting services, with specialties in business continuity, international tax, forensic accounting, litigation support, technology, family office and financial advisory services. With nearly 20 years of experience, Jania offers a unique combination of audit, consulting and buy-side transactional advisory expertise. He specializes in advising franchises – specifically quick-service restaurants and casual dining establishments. He consults with owners on valuations, restaurant sales and acquisitions, and succession planning.

Paul Krieger

As managing partner of Deloitte & Touche LLP’s New Jersey practice, Krieger leads more than 2,000 employees. And with more than 25 years of audit and advisory experience, Krieger serves as the lead client service partner and advisory partner for public and private global clients. His experience ranges from leading audit and advisory services, strategic alliances and global acquisitions to complex revenue recognition matters. Krieger is considered an expert in reporting under US GAAP, IFRS and SEC requirements, as well as due diligence and deal structuring for acquisitions, dispositions and strategic alliances, bankruptcies and public debt, and equity offerings. He serves on the boards of the Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. Krieger is also helping to shepherd the Deloitte Foundation’s collaboration with Rutgers University. “Passion and intention only go so far as we work toward a diverse, equitable, and inclusive accounting profession here in New Jersey and beyond,” said Krieger in the March announcement. “The Deloitte Foundation’s collaboration with Rutgers University is an important action to help bring that vision to life.” Krieger was recognized in both 2020 and 2021 on the NJBIZ Accounting Power 50 lists.

Gil Medina

Since joining CBRE’s Saddle Brook office in 2013, the former New Jersey Commerce commissioner has provided integrated real estate solutions for corporate, governmental, nonprofit and academic organizations. Medina brings a wide array of expertise in management, sales, business development, technology and regulatory matters. He is responsible for local and global business development across all CBRE service lines including Advisory & Transaction Services for office, retail, industrial, project management and financial consulting. Before joining CBRE, he spent a decade at commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield. Having spent time at two of the world’s largest commercial real estate companies, Medina has represented multinational companies with their facilities and location requirements. He also led New Jersey’s international trade and investment promotion strategies. Throughout the pandemic, Medina served on the facilities and construction subcommittee of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council, which centered on the state’s COVID economic recovery. Medina is a regularly sought speaker and panelist, as well as an expert and news source. He is a trusted voice in the Garden State commercial real estate industry and the business community as a whole.

Bryan Merrigan

Merrigan took the helm as managing partner at Grant Thornton’s MetroPark office in 2020, and since that time, the 200-person office – and the firm at large – have posted strong growth. For his part, Merrigan has overseen major client signings and key growth in industries including finance, technology and health care. At the same time – take note again of when it was his tenure leading the office began – Merrgian has led the implementation of a hybrid work model that allows Grant Thornton employees to work from home or the office, in most situations. The firm recently generated record revenues of $1.97 billion; a feat Merrigan says is a direct result of a proactive investment in relationships. “When my team and I land a new client or grow in any industry, we’re always looking for ways we can help a business thrive beyond what’s written on the page,” he says. “In other words, I’m constantly looking for new ways for my people to both do the work they love and add additional value to the clients they serve. I believe that’s the ultimate win-win.”

Bayaan Oluyadi

Oluyadi is the principal and founder of KTB Services LLC, an accounting firm based in Cranford. He started KTB in 2021 after two years at PwC and six at CohnReznick LLP, and in addition to tax planning and compliance tax accruals, at his new firm he provides strategic business planning; financial statement preparation; bookkeeping and software support; state, local and international tax guidance; and other services designed to help Individuals and business owners manage and grow their companies. Oluyadi sits on the corporate advisory board of a New Jersey chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is the treasurer for the alumni board at Monmouth University.

Kathy Powers

Powers is the newly minted president of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants for the 2022-23 term. “Kathy brings specialized knowledge from working as a CFO of a hospital and school serving developmentally disabled individuals in addition to her years spent in public accounting. She has been an inspiration to many professionals, and we are pleased she is taking the reins,” said Ralph Albert Thomas, a fellow NJBIZ Accounting Power 50 honoree. At NJCPA, Powers just completed a three-year term on the board of trustees and served as leader of the Nonprofit Interest Group and the Healthcare Interest Group. As president of the organization, of which she has been a member since 1998, Powers will work with the next generation of young professionals about becoming CPAs and understanding the benefits of working in business and industry and the nonprofit sector. Powers is a staunch supporter of women’s equity in the accounting profession. And she served on the governor’s Independent Developmental Disability Fee-for-Service Transition Oversight Board, and the governor’s Independent Mental Health & Addiction Fee-for-Service Transition Oversight Board. “Over the course of the next year, I really hope to continue the legacy that has been left to me,” said Powers in a video announcing her NJCPA presidency. “I also want to be seen and known as a president who has lent her support to other female leaders in the NJCPA.”

Maria Rollins

Rollins has a well-deserved reputation as an innovator — in 2021 she was named an “Innovation leader” by the NJ Society of CPAs — and that’s evident in her personal life as well as in her professional approach. To begin with, women are under-represented in accounting, but she is a founding member of KRS CPAs LLC. And Rollins, who successfully juggled family responsibilities while rising through the ranks, has helped develop and implement policies that encourage more women and others to thrive as accountants. Her firm, for example, was an early adopter of unlimited paid time off, which Rollins said is essential to attract and retain qualified people. She also helped to craft KRS CPA’s mentoring, or “counselor” program, “where managers “spend time with junior staff, supporting them and guiding them through different processes,” she said. “We also encourage them to pursue their interests in audit, tax, client advisory or other specialties so they can be the best professional possible.” And Rollins has been a proponent of remote work, which can save employees the delays and stress of commuting, freeing them to spend more time on client matters. “We’ve extended it to the point where one employee moved out of state but remained with us,” she said. “We recognize that the way we work is changing, and we embrace it.”

Michael Saccomanno

Saccomanno is the partner in charge of the forensic accounting, litigation support and valuation services group at nearly-centenarian Friedman LLP. He provides his services for purposes such as business planning, mergers and acquisitions, tax, and litigation support in industries from health care to construction; and he provides expert testimony in courts throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Saccomanno works with public and private clients in a range of industries – including manufacturing/distribution, technology and insurance – and he’s an in-demand speaker across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including at this year’s NJSBA annual meeting.

Steven Schinella

A CPA with nearly 27 years of experience, Schinella is the New Jersey office managing partner in CohnReznick’s Parsippany office. Schinella is a member of both the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is a member of the firm’s Consumer Industry practice, Manufacturing and Distribution Industry practice, and Public Company Audit practice. Schinella is a trusted expert in accounting and audit advisory services for both publicly traded and privately held companies, and has also gained experience working in the technology industry. His work has focused on interpreting and implementing technical accounting issues, SEC rules and regulations, and increasingly complex reporting requirements. Schinella has also assisted companies with their initial implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and has offered guidance for sustaining compliance in subsequent years. Schinella is a proud graduate of his home-state university, Rutgers, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Schinella helped oversee CohnReznick’s COVID efforts to go 100% remote during the height of the pandemic, telling NJBIZ at the time that “We expect that ‘work from home’ will continue to be a major part of the CohnReznick work experience in the foreseeable future.”

Alex Serrano

Serrano has been with Citrin Cooperman for decades. He manages the Livingston office, where the firm offers financial services for industries including real estate and construction, restaurants and hospitality, cannabis, sports tech and cryptocurrency. Serrano has spent more than 30 years solving the tax planning and strategic problems of closely held businesses as well as for individuals, including representing their interests before the IRS and the state. As office managing partner, Serrano oversees operations, promotes operational excellence, and manages the culture and organizational effectiveness of the New Jersey office. In the field, he specializes in M&A and works with clients to examine the business and tax side of proposed deals.

Jennifer Shimek

Shimek took over as managing principal of KPMG’s Short Hills office in October 2020 after six years with the firm. In that role, she oversees more than 860 partners and professionals. In her practice, she specializes in regulatory enforcement and compliance for the health care and life sciences industries—work that is informed by her experience as chief operating officer for orthopedic specialty physician group DAS Health. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and State Theatre of New Jersey board member is also a Certified Professional Coder and a member of the American Academy of Professional Coders.

Chris Smith

“As an accountant, at the end of the day, the goal is to become an entrepreneur. You want to be responsible for your own career,” says Smith, a partner with Friedman LLP, in a firm video describing its mentoring program. “You want to be responsible for the careers of the people underneath you and see people grow.” Smith has more than 30 years of experience in private and public sectors, working for companies at all stages of their development. In addition to managing the firm’s East Hanover office, Smith serves as the co-leader of Friedman’s Public Company Services and Technology and Telecommunications practices, where he provides audit, compliance and advisory services. Smith is regarded as a trusted accounting expert, specializing in software, telecommunications, and manufacturing and distribution. He is a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New Jersey Society of CPAs. Smith’s expertise also includes working with clients on public offerings, reverse mergers, PIPEs and private placements, designing and documenting internal controls, overseeing SEC compliance requirements, and assisting companies with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 internal control compliance requirements.

Alan Sobel

In December, Sobel, the former president of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, was honored by the American Institute of CPAs with its Special Recognition Award for leading the charge in bringing about the passage of the Pass-Through Business Alternative Tax Act. “Alan’s unwavering commitment to improve the lives of his clients and other businesses owners throughout the Garden State is admired and respected by his peers at the NJCPA, AICPA, and other state CPA societies and the business community,” said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA. “He exemplifies the power of combining the core competencies of the CPA with specialized subject matter expertise.” In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of his firm, Sobel offers clients his expertise on sourcing deals, negotiating and structuring transactions, financial and business due diligence, and transaction financing. Sobel advises owners of privately held businesses in the manufacturing, retail, construction, distribution, real estate development and financial services industries. In addition to a wide range of philanthropic endeavors, Sobel is also recognized for his memorable run as NJCPA president in 2020-21. “New Jersey can benefit greatly by the collective wisdom, ideas and intellect of our CPA community,” said Sobel when he was named president. “CPAs work tirelessly to ensure all kinds of businesses receive fair tax and economic advantages.”

Sean Stein Smith

Sean Stein Smith, an assistant professor at the City University of New York – Lehman College in the Economics and Business Department, is shattering the old-fashioned image of accountants. For one thing, the Bergen County resident thrives on disruption, with research interests that include cryptocurrencies and blockchain. “These are complex, emergent areas, and I’m working to help CPAs and businesses understand them,” says Stein Smith, who appeared on the 2021 Power 50 list. He’s also focusing on such issues as, how accounting activity can use robotic process automation, and how integrated financial reporting may change organizational disclosure and reporting. Stein Smith is also contributing to an effort that will change how crypto-assets are treated and reported under U.S. GAAP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. “GAAP was fine for its time, when traditional, industrial transactions were the norm,” he said. “Given how rapidly the cryptoasset sector continues to grow and develop, it is obvious that GAAP needs to be updated to accommodate these changes.” And thanks to Stein Smith and others, the audit and financial reporting processes might also be in for some changes. “I’m continuing to research continuous auditing and real-time reporting, which utilizes artificial intelligence and other advances to enable an organization’s financial records to be closed and reviewed on a daily basis, which is critical for accurate crypto reporting,” he explained. “It’s part of the ongoing move to recast accountants from historical record-keepers to real-time advisers.

Sandy Suchoff

New Jersey’s adult use cannabis sales began on April 21, and the first month of sales saw $24 million in revenue from the state’s 12 initial dispensaries. All that money rolling in means cannabis businesses need guidance on how to manage their money and stay profitable. Suchoff specializes in cannabis businesses, guiding them through strategic tax planning, proper cost accounting, budgets and rolling cash forecasts. Accounting for cannabis businesses is different than accounting for other businesses, largely because the U.S. tax code prohibits deductions from taxable income earned from the sale of Schedule 1 drugs, a designation cannabis retains on the federal level. With revenues of $5 million, the firm – The Canna CPAs-Lefstein-Suchoff CPA & Associates LLC – guides its 100+ clients through the complicated (but fruitful) space well, leading to the No. 1 spot on Marijuana Guide’s cannabis accounting firms list in December 2020.

Karen Taylor-Burke

Taylor-Burke is a partner in the Cranford office of PKF O’Connor Davies where she has led the firm’s Women’s Initiative Network since 2019. Last year, her status as a leader at the firm – and her commitment to its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion culture – was cemented further with a one-year appointment to PKF’s Governance Committee, during which time she identified and mentored future partners at the organization. This year, that recognition went a step further with her appointment as an associate member of the Firm’s Executive Committee. Her clients view Taylor-Burke as a trusted advisor, and why wouldn’t they? She has 25 years of experience in public accounting and has dedicated her career to serving the needs of nonprofits. Her work finds her delivering a variety of accounting, audit and advisory services to charitable organizations and labor unions, which includes advising board members and management with recommendations to improve their internal controls and providing information for Accounting Best Practices and Board Governance. Beyond nonprofits, Taylor-Burke also provides services to the real estate and construction sectors, specializing in preparing Cost Certification Audits in compliance with NJHMFA and HUD, and assisting clients with additional analysis to meet compliance regulations and funding rules. In 2021, she was recognized was an NJBIZ Leader in Finance award winner.

Jeffrey Thomson

Thomson is the president and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants, a 140,000-member-strong association (one of the largest worldwide) focusing exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. He’s led the Montvale-based organization since 2008. Twice named Professional Body of the Year by The Accountant/International Accounting Bulletin, IMA has a global network that spans 150 countries and 350 professional and student chapters. Under Thomson’s guidance in recent years, IMA has led several studies, including The Impact of COVID-19 on the Finance Function, which found that 44% of companies that shifted the priorities of their finance function switched to focus on risk management and shifted away from focusing on factors like business partnering and decision support; and Diversifying U.S. Accounting Talent, which found a diversity gap between leadership and the broader profession. For example, African Americans make up 8.5% of the profession but only 1% of partners at U.S. CPA firms and 1.5% of CFOs of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies. The survey revealed talented individuals believe they aren’t advancing in the profession because of a lack of equity and inclusion, and that up to 18% of respondents from diverse demographic groups left the profession altogether due to such factors.

June Toth

Toth’s career spans more than 30 years, during which time the managing member at ZBT Certified Public Accounting & Consulting in Clark has racked up experience providing services ranging from auditing and financial statement analysis to reporting, and expert insight regarding economic damages and litigation. Her concentrations include franchises, professional disciplines, real estate developers and contractors, manufacturers, nonprofits and tech providers. A member and board member of NJCPA – in addition to being active on a number of its committees – this year, Toth is treasurer for the statewide organization. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. One insider previously said Toth has become a resource for many New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants members, who “consider her a sounding board on topics from accounting to overall life decision-making.”

Stacey Udell

Udell is the director of valuation, litigation and forensics for the Mid-Atlantic region of HBK Valuation Group, based in Cherry Hill. And she’s a core member of HBK’s cannabis group, helping businesses develop strategies to maximize value. As recreational sales ramp up – with regulatory challenges remaining in place – Udell will be tested in that role. Need evidence of Udell’s expertise? She’s the co-author of The Cannabis Industry Accounting and Appraisal Guide (July 2018) and the primary author of Cannabis: A Budding Opportunity, Valuation Strategies (March 2016). In addition, Udell has been qualified as an expert in New Jersey and has received extensive training on providing expert witness testimony and litigation support for business valuations.

Michele Vetlov

Vetlov is a tax manager at Dassault Falcon Jet Corp., a builder of private business aircraft. Before entering the private sector, she was in public accounting focusing on corporate taxes and state and local tax issues. She is the leader of the NJCPA State Tax Interest Group and participates in the Director’s Work Group. Previously, she served as a manager specializing in tax at Wiss & Co., where she worked with business owners to ensure they are complying with state and local tax law and eligible for a variety of incentives.

Diane Wasser

If Diane Wasser were not a CPA, she probably would have been a superhero. As EisnerAmper’s managing partner of regions, she fosters consistent culture across the firm’s geographic footprint; and her responsibilities as New Jersey partner-in-charge include employee and partner engagement, office administration, helping to maintain and grow the firm’s client base, and talent maximization. She’s also a long-time member of the firm’s Executive Committee, leveraging her 30-plus-years of experience to counsel publicly listed and other businesses across the United States on matters that include ERISA and other employee benefit plan audit and consulting matters. Additionally, she is responsible for managing audits across a wide range of employee benefit and welfare benefit plans, including 401(k)s, 11-Ks, ESOPs, defined benefit and 403(b) plans. Wasser, who’s appeared on the Power 50 list before and knows her industry well, sees an “exciting uptick” in EisnerAmper’s growing outsourced accounting, finance and HR practice, as well as the firm’s cryptocurrency, blockchain, cannabis and other advisory practices. She is also assisting in the firm’s tech expansion, which aims to add even more automation to the audit process. Despite her full plate, Wasser still finds time to sit on the board of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, while mentoring EisnerAmper colleagues at a variety of levels and helping to onboard new staff. If that wasn’t enough, she is also heavily involved in representing EisnerAmper in its own M&A and integration activities.