Ramona H. Pearson, CPA
The Pearson Group, LLC
This profile was originally published in the May/June 2009 issue of Leaders' Edge
Ramona Henderson Pearson is not only a “Navigator of the Profession,” but she has also successfully navigated a troubled community toward financial recovery. Within her 30-year career, she founded The Pearson Group, LLC and Ramona Henderson Pearson, CPA, P.C. in 1999 and 1984 respectively. She focuses her practice in three areas: accounting consulting, investment advisement, and management and tax compliance. “I love my practice,” said Ramona. “It feels good to know that I bring value to my clients.”
In 2001, Ramona was also named as Emergency Financial Manager for the City of Highland Park. With the city in dire financial straits, her goal was to restore the city’s bottom line and give residents a sense of hope that their community would thrive again. “It was painful to see, firsthand, a government that had gone awry,” she said. “It taught me the value of real leadership – real moral leadership. I met some great people and saw great homes.” Ramona is truly passionate about the profession, as well as Detroit and surrounding communities. It’s a passion that shows in her daily professional and personal life.
What made you decide to enter the accounting profession?
When I attended Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland, I took a bookkeeping class. I was then lucky enough to get a part-time job in the afternoons working for a CPA, Paul H. Naden. I had never heard of a CPA, but from that point, accounting opportunities seemed to come my way. I "moonlighted" (by assisting small businesses receiving SBA loans) with one of the accounting professionals at a MESBIC (Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company) where I worked as an administrative secretary while I attended Community College of Baltimore. I then took a position as an accounts payable clerk at Provident Hospital in Baltimore. I worked at night while attending Morgan State University during the day where I was majoring in accounting.
Explain your most challenging professional venture.
My most challenging professional venture was being Auditor General at Wayne County for nearly 10 years.
Of which professional accomplishments are you most proud and why?
I am most proud of being a manager at Arthur Young & Company because it was an environment of constant challenge. I am also very proud of being appointed the Emergency Financial Manager of the City of Highland Park because it was a real challenge where tough decisions had to be made; but the goal was always to win for the citizens of Highland Park. I learned a lot, garnered many excellent relationships and learned what it really means to be "responsible" for the health and welfare of others. We accomplished a great deal and I have the 400-page report given to the Governor to prove it.
Explain any major obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are today.
My biggest obstacle has been being female in a male dominated world AND where even females prefer male direction as opposed to direction from another female. I know many females in powerful positions that will agree with me.
You have been involved with MACPA’s High School Leaders Conferences for the past few years. Why do you think it is critical to reach out to high school-level students about the of the CPA profession?
It is important for our profession to make its presence known because of competition from other fields that appeal more to the senses because of "free" promotion via television and the media. I am thinking particularly of the legal profession, but also engineering, entertainment, technology and medicine. Most young people know of those fields of employment. It appears, as well, that young people are not as sure about their future desires at those ages (as I believe boomers were); so, if we want to have impact on their decision-making, we have to put ourselves (CPAs) before them at earlier and earlier ages.
What advice would you have for those considering entering the CPA profession?
Those entering the profession need to understand that it is a profession where communications is, in my view, the most critical ingredient. It is a business that lives and dies on relationships with people. All of the math and reasoning in the world will not create a successful accountant if they cannot communicate verbally or in writing.
What interests or activities are you involved in outside of work?
Outside of work, I am involved with the Ecumenical Theological Seminary as a board member and Neighborhood Services Organization as a board member, not to mention my MACPA board responsibilities. I have two wonderful teenage girls, one at Harvard and the other at the Roeper School; and their activities after school absorb most of my non-work time. However, I love golf and am presently in golf school to become a better golfer. I love to read, and have started many books. I also love to travel.