Originally published at pwc.com. Laphil Bowles is PwC’s business-services manager. PwC is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.
Since high school, anyone I encountered learned quickly that I aspired to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) when I “grew up.” Even recently, I paged through my senior yearbook and found a note from a classmate wishing me “good luck on becoming a CPA”. What many didn’t know is why. I have always had a burning purpose to be a part of something larger and greater than myself by leaning into opportunities to help others. To me, becoming an accountant meant that I was able to foster my purpose by helping others solve financial problems.
Following high school, I pursued my dream, obtaining a Bachelor’s in Accounting, with a minor in finance from the University of South Florida, before joining PwC’s Accounting practice. Shortly after joining PwC, I returned to complete my master’s in Accounting. After a year at PwC, I began accounting work at a multinational beverage company. However, I acknowledged that it was time to continue pursuing my purpose in more ways than one, and I chose to enlist in the Florida Army National Guard. Following initial training, and while serving in the Guard, I am proud to say that I also completed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, achieving my dream of becoming a CPA.
Today, as I reflect on Veterans Day, I am not only grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of that military community, but also for the life-defining experiences, lasting relationships — the military is where I met the love of my life, my husband — and the impact we were able to have on others’ lives. In fact, there are many correlations between the values and skills that were developed through my military experience and the person and professional I am today.
Looking to do something different than accounting in the National Guard, I enlisted as a 25Q, which is an individual that maintains multichannel transmissions systems. I was responsible for providing reliable information by installing, repairing, and operating radio, satellite, security devices, and power generators. I also analyzed diagnostics, ensuring accurate information would be received at the right time. You may be thinking that that has nothing to do with accounting, but hindsight is 20/20, and I know now that the skills I developed and fostered in the National Guard have been instrumental in continuing my accounting career at PwC after my military service. My role in the National Guard enabled me to successfully lead the implementation of scalable projects at the firm using agile and waterfall methodologies to reduce operational complexities and drive digital transformation.
Selfless service and personal courage are the driving force behind my purpose and passion to make a difference. At PwC, our strategy, The New Equation, humanizes the strength of our people who support our clients in building trust and delivering outcomes, and I truly feel that there is no better way for me to do that than to keep taking advantage of each opportunity to foster an environment that empowers people to thrive and be their most creative self.
I have followed my calling into serving as a member of the Hillsborough County Academy of Finance Advisory Board and the USF Stavros Center Advocacy Board, and am involved with several organizations, including the National Association of Black Accountants, Computer Mentors Group Inc., and many more that have all continue to have a deep impact on the day-to-day lives of high-schoolers, college students and communities across the country. I also serve as a council member on PwC’s OneFirm Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) council, which unites employees from all levels of the organization, gives them a seat at the table and empowers them to help advise our leadership team on how to advance progress internally and externally.
CPA, community leader, DEI advocate, mentor, military spouse, and veteran — regardless of my title, the mission has always remained the same: to make a difference in others’ lives. As I reflect on this Veterans Day, I am proud to be a veteran and am thankful for all my fellow veterans who have honorably served our country while following their purpose.