Penn State program helps accounting firm develop leaders

August 13, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- Developing future leaders from within the organization is critical to the future of Parente Randolph LLC, a top U.S.-certified public accounting firm. To achieve this goal, the firm selected Penn State to create a customized program to build the leadership competencies and core business skills of its managers, partners and principals. The first class of 22 leaders has completed the Leadership, Entrepreneurism and Achievement at Parente Randolph (LEAP) program, and three more classes are under way.

"LEAP provides participants with a broader understanding of concepts and issues related to process improvement, project management, performance management, business strategy and managing change, and much more," said John Park, associate director of Penn State Management Development Programs and Services and lead faculty member and academic coordinator for LEAP.

Park worked closely with Parente Randolph's executive sponsors of LEAP -- Jeffrey L. Ferro, chief operating officer and principal in Parente Randolph's Philadelphia office, and Kimberly D. Wylam, principal and practice leader for HR Consulting Services and Benefits Administration in the Clarks Summit office -- to customize and brand this leadership development program.

Parente Randolph LLC, headquartered in Philadelphia, was founded in 1970 and has more than 600 team members in offices in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Texas.

LEAP, a three-year program, enables participants "to focus on personal development as they complete self-assessment related to emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and interpersonal communication," Park explained. "They also explore the concept of servant leadership and how they can have a personal impact on the organizational culture of the firm."

As part of LEAP, participants identify a project to improve a process or function at Parente Randolph and present their projects before the firm's executive committee.

Now in its fourth year, LEAP has been "a grand slam for us," Ferro said. Parente Randolph recently extended its contract with Penn State to continue the program.

For Travis Hunt, senior manager of Parente Randolph's Wellsboro, Pa., office, who won the class Rising Star award, LEAP has led to improved public speaking abilities. "Before LEAP, I was always apprehensive about public speaking. Now I'm more confident."

Mark J. Ross, principal and practice leader for the senior living services audit practice in the firm's Wilkes-Barre office, appreciated the opportunities to network with colleagues from other offices and "hear different perspectives from colleagues and from Penn State faculty."

"Culturally, LEAP is really starting to change how the firm interacts with everyone," Wylam said.

Penn State Management Development Programs and Services, online at, is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.


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Last Updated August 13, 2009