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CPA Spotlight: Bridget Kaigler

Candidate Spotlight | A non-traditional career start | Bridget Kaigler

CPA Spotlight: Bridget Kaigler

Bridget Kaigler, CPA, CGMA, CMA, MBA, is a corporate professional specializing in state and local taxation. Bridget works as an advocate for the accounting profession, serving at a local, state, and national level, advocating for diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, mentoring future leaders, and promoting the CPA certification. She is also the founder of Bringing Leadership Back, LLC, an organization whose mission is to help aspiring leaders grow.

A non-traditional career start

Bridget didn’t have the opportunity to attend college right after high school and instead went straight into the workforce. It was after holding jobs as a cashier, telemarketer, and temp, that she decided she wanted to build a career and began pursuing her education.

It wasn’t an easy path for Bridget. She was a single mom working full-time who had to fit in classes wherever she could. But her dedication to improving her career situation and willingness to do whatever it took—working long days, taking night classes, and studying late hours—earned her a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.

“Being a single mom and working full-time, time management was key. I listened to audio study materials at work on my breaks, kept flashcards in my purse, and fit in 20 to 30 hours a week of studying after my son was fed and put to sleep.”

We asked Bridget why she decided to pursue a career in accounting. She said:

The profession is highly respected and career opportunities are endless. I wanted to set the standard for my son, start a family legacy, and be in a profession I would be proud of.

Benefits of dual certification

Bridget didn’t stop at the CPA certification and went on to earn her CMA. She also recieved the CGMA designation from the AICPA based on her experience. She shared why she chose to pursue each and how the designations she now proudly lists after her name have impacted her career:

  • CPA – It remains the most widely-known and highly respected designation in the accounting profession. As a CPA, opportunities were prevalent and continue to be forthcoming.

  • CMA – I was a tax accountant at a global manufacturing company. I would meet with plant personnel regarding capacity utilization, budgeting, reporting, and overall plant performance. The CMA certification provided general knowledge for professionals in this space. Most importantly, as a CMA, I could add value to discussions, including asking the right questions.

  • CGMA – AICPA recognized the need for management professionals. The certification aligned with my career goals and provided resources and other tools to aid with job performance.

Earning multiple certifications is a great way to grow professionally and boost your salary. Whether you’re just starting out or you already have an accounting certification under your belt, our dual certification resources will guide you as you take steps to enhance your career.

Diversity in the accounting profession

I am proud to shatter the perspective of a typical accountant.

Bridget’s work with the AICPA Foundation allows her to pay it forward by giving a voice to the underserved in the industry. In her role on the Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee, she works to assist future leaders and minorities in the accounting profession.

She is proud that her work allows her to “be a visible role model to future leaders, represent for non-traditional students, minorities, and anyone who needs hope to pursue his/her/their dreams.”

To minority candidates, Bridget advises: “Do not let the lack of diversity in the profession deter you from pursing your goal. Set the standard.”

Advice for students and candidates

We asked Bridget to share her advice for accounting students to better prepare them for the workforce.

  1. Do your part – Be the one others can depend on. Prove to your leaders the time and money they are investing in you is being well spent.

  2. Own your career – Do not rely on others to manage your career. Leadership development may be acquired within or outside the workplace.

  3. Be patient – Leadership development happens in small increments through experience.

  4. Lead for others – Don’t expect a tangible trophy. Your recognition will come from the respect you earn from peers and supervisors.”

Bridget is a big supporter of getting involved in accounting organizations and volunteering. If you’re deciding between pursuing a career in public vs. private accounting, Bridget suggests using professional associations or a university career center to identify leaders in both spaces who you can connect with.

Students have tons of valuable resources available to them that will help prepare them for their careers. Taking advantage of these resources and
networking in college is essential for students who are looking to jump start their careers and grow professionally.

Bridget suggests students choose classes that will help them develop leadership skills, which will serve them in their upcoming careers.

View courses in leadership development, personal branding, and diversity and inclusion – specifically unconscious bias.

What’s next for Bridget

Bridget continues her work as a leader in the accounting industry and an advocate for the CPA profession. She is dedicated to helping future leaders realize their potential and providing them the tools and resources to do so. Her organization, Bringing Leadership Back, LLC., gives Bridget a platform to reach thousands of aspiring leaders as she works to consult with firms and provide leadership courses. She’s focused on using her experience and expertise to help others, and she frequently speaks and writes on leadership, career strategy, and diversity and inclusion.

Bridget’s role on the AICPA Foundation’s D&I sub-committee and as a D&I Council Member for a companysponsored program will allow her to continue to work in the diversity and inclusion realm, promoting impactful initiatives and fostering leadership skills in the workforce.

I am proof that leadership traits will rise to the top, regardless of life’s challenges.

Start your own accounting journey

Bridget’s career journey is a great example of how investing in yourself and becoming a CPA provides opportunities that will change the trajectory of your career.

There is always a next step. Do not be afraid to find out what you’re good at.

We’re thankful for the opportunity to shine the spotlight on a past Gleim candidate doing such impactful work in our shared accounting community.

Ready to take the next step in your career? Read our CPA exam guide to learn everything you need to know about becoming a CPA.