Accounting Energy 50 I-Z – NJBIZ

Rich Jania 

Jania is New Jersey partner in charge at Marks Paneth. The firm traces its roots to 1907 and now boasts a team of nearly 700 professionals. Itprovides a full 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’s skills reflect a unique combination of audit, consulting and buy-side transactional advisory expertise. Jania 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.

Michael H. Karu 

Karu led Levine, Jacobs & Co. from a firm of eight and a gross of under $1 million to a total of 27 employees and a gross of over $5 million. He leads the business valuation and litigation support group for the firm and is also in charge of its estate and trust, healthcare and non-profit groups, working closely with physicians and medical associations. Karu is sought after for his expertise on all things taxes by local news sources and national ones, such as Barron’s, alike. Additionally, he previously served as a board member on the New Jersey Ballet Company and was a trustee, officer and audit chairman of Oheb Shalom Congregation.

Paul Krieger 

Krieger is the managing partner for Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Parsippany practice, leading more than 2,000 employees. He also serves as lead client service partner and advisory partner for a variety of global clients. Krieger has more than 28 years of audit and advisory experience at Deloitte serving large organizations in a variety of industries, with a focus on life sciences. He has extensive experience in leading audit and advisory services related to internal controls, business combinations, strategic alliances, global acquisitions and complex revenue recognition matters. He is versed in reporting under US GAAP, IFRS, and SEC requirements; due diligence and deal structuring for acquisitions, dispositions, and strategic alliances; bankruptcies; and public debt and equity offerings. Krieger also serves on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

Gil Medina 

A CPA who’s a former New Jersey Secretary of Commerce under Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and now an executive vice president at CBRE, Medina boasts decades as an attorney and an accountant.  He spent that time developing his expertise in management, sales, business development, technology and regulatory matters. He has served on boards in various industry sectors including government, non-profits, health care, life sciences, medical devices, law, accounting, business process outsourcing, media, business services and information technology. And he serves on the facilities and construction subcommittee for Gov. Phil Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council meant to chart the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He came on board with CBRE at their Saddle Brook office in 2013, having previously spent a decade at commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield.

Applying his extensive real estate and business experience, he is focused on providing and coordinating integrated real estate solutions for corporate, governmental and academic research organizations. He is also responsible for local and global business development across all CBRE service lines.

As head of the state Commerce Department in the 1990’s, he helped push through one of the state’s first ever economic incentive programs, called the Business Employment and Incentive Program, which years down the road paved the way for the state’s current post-COVID economic recovery efforts. He remains a key voice in the New Jersey commercial real estate industry, the larger business community and public-private sector efforts that are guiding the state’s economic growth.

Bryan Merrigan 

When Merrigan took the helm as managing partner at the MetroPark office for Grant Thornton in May last year, many businesses in the state had largely transitioned to the work-from-home environment amid widespread pandemic closures. Merrigan spent years involved in some of the state’s biggest industries – pharmaceuticals, professional services and technology.

Now his main focus is to engage 200 partners and employees as the state economy reopens and millions of workers return to their offices, opt to continue working from home or some combination of the two. “That’s been my focus now, just engaging with our younger people, getting them out in the market, having as many touch points as I can. If you treat your people well, it translates well to client service,” Merrigan told NJBIZ last year. “In this virtual environment, it’s hard to find these touchpoints,” but “whether you form small advisory groups, have virtual happy hours, anything to engage with people” it can be done.

Bayaan Oluyadi 

Oluyadi is an accountant on the move who in some ways represents the industry itself, which is at an important inflection point. Just as he continues to adopt to the industry’s technological and other changes, Oluyadi also respects the example set by his grandfather — who was a Chartered Accountant in his home country of Nigeria. It’s similar to the way CPAs today in general continue to be trusted advisers even as they take on new commitments and expand the services they offer to clients. In addition to his responsibilities as a tax manager at the Big Four CPA firm PwC, Oluyadi — who recently completed his master’s in taxation through a Georgetown University distance learning program — finds time to sit on a number of New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants committees. As if that’s not enough, Oluyadi also sits on the corporate advisory board of a New Jersey chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and competes in tournaments, and he’s preparing for an Ironman competition in September, As an immigrant and a member of a minority group, Oluyadi also serves as a role model, but he’s quick to point out that accounting in general — and firms like PwC in particular — are great levelers when it comes to diversity and inclusion. At the same time, he’s also smashing the stereotype of the “boring” accountant. “After all,” said one colleague. “You can’t go up to someone who competes in an Ironman and is a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and say, ‘You’re an accounting nerd.’”

Kathy Powers 

The Matheny Medical and Educational Center is a unique institution — a licensed special hospital and school serving developmentally disabled individuals. And Powers, who serves as the institution’s CFO, brings a distinctive background to the job. A member of the NJCPA since 1998, she recently completed a three-year term as a board of trustee of that organization and has served as chairperson of the NCCPA’s Nonprofit Interest Group and the Healthcare Interest Group. Powers also participates in other NJCPA committees and interest groups, including the Business & Industry Professionals Interest Group, the Women’s Leadership Forum, and the Governmental Accounting & Auditing Interest Group. She worked in public accounting for 17 years — most recently as senior manager at the former CPA firm ParenteBeard LLC, focusing on the healthcare and non-profit industries — but in 2014 saw a career with Matheny as a chance to give back to the community as an advocate for people with complex issues. Among other high-profile engagements during her time at Matheny, Powers has served as an appointed member of 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. Powers is no stranger to advocating for her beliefs. Earlier in her career, she worked with another individual to develop a women’s initiative. Matheny President and CEO Bill Kent sums it up, calling Powers “an extraordinary finance leader,” but notes that what makes her truly special “is her commitment and passion for Matheny’s mission to serve our patients, group home residents and students.”

Ainsley Reynolds  

Reynolds wears several hats in the state’s accounting industry. In March, he was elected to a third term as president of the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy, a professional board that regulates the conduct, licensure and entrance exams for New Jersey’s certified public accountants. And he heads the accounting department in the New Jersey Division of Investment, which manages the state’s $90 billion public worker pension fund. He’s held top financial and accounting roles at many prominent companies, including Hilton, PwC and Deutsche Bank.

Michael Saccomanno  

When a business needs to be valued — for buy-sell agreements, litigation or other reasons — Michael Saccomanno is often at the top of the contact list. A partner in the Forensic Accounting, Litigation Support & Valuation Services Group at Friedman LLP, Saccomanno provides expert testimony in courts throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania — virtually and online — and has been in demand as a speaker at numerous industry events. He works with public and private clients in a range of industries, including manufacturing/distribution, technology and insurance. In addition to the terrible human toll that COVID-19 extracted, the economic tsunami that accompanied it upended the practice of determining how much a company is worth — a vital component of M&A, partnership buyouts, estate planning and other activities. “If a company had a down year in 2020, you can’t just ignore it for valuation purposes,” he said. “But you do have to consider it.” For Saccomanno the answer involves taking a deep dive into a company’s operations, including the steps it took to survive during the worst of the pandemic, and analyzing the results of its operations now, as the economy slowly recovers. But he isn’t just a passive observer. During the COVID-19 crisis he worked closely with clients, helping them to navigate the maze of government programs designed to help keep companies afloat, and now he’s assisting them with new challenges, like dealing with a shortage of workers. “Overall, I’m finding that the businesses that survived tend be stronger going forward,” he said. “Now, as pandemic assistance programs wind down, businesses that used the cash infusion as a crutch while they recovered will have to make do without that support. Along with the entire Friedman LLP firm, I’m glad to be there to assist them.”

Steven Schinella 

Schinella is managing partner of CohnReznick’s Roseland office. He is a member of the firm’s Consumer Industry practice, Manufacturing and Distribution Industry practice, and Public Company Audit practice where he delivers a wide variety of accounting and audit advisory services to both publicly traded and privately held companies. He has also gained experience working in the technology industry. Schinella assists clients in interpreting and implementing technical accounting issues, SEC rules and regulations, and increasingly complex reporting requirements. He works with management and audit committees to provide accounting updates, industry best practices, and recommendations to improve internal controls when necessary. He has assisted companies with their initial implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and has offered guidance for sustaining compliance in subsequent years. Schinella has approximately 20 years of diversified public accounting experience, primarily with a Big 4 firm servicing both public and private companies.

Alex Serrano 

Serrano is the co-managing partner at Citrin Cooperman’s Livingston office, where he’s been for decades now. The firm offers financial services for state industries including real estate and construction, restaurants and hospitality, cannabis, sports tech, and cryptocurrency.

In his tenure over these past 30 years, Serrano has worked on solving tax-planning and strategic problems, representing clients before the state and the IRS. In his career, Serrano has honed his craft as a strategic business consultant and tax advisor, working with a wide array of industry clients. In his role at the Livingston office, Serrano oversees operations and manages the culture and organizational effectiveness. He is also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. As a business consultant, Serrano offers guidance for strategic issues ranging from structuring and growth, profitability and tax planning.

Jennifer Shimek

Shimek was named managing principal of KPMG’s Short Hills office in October after six years with the firm, first as forensic partner and most recently as a principal in the Risk Advisory Solutions Service Group. As managing principal, she oversees more than 860 partners and professionals. Shimek specializes in regulatory enforcement and compliance in the healthcare and life sciences industries. Her perspective was shaped by time served as chief operating officer for orthopedic specialty physician group DAS Health, which included sub-specialties, physical therapy and an ambulatory surgery center in Florida.

Chris Smith  

Smith is a partner at Friedman LLP and manages the firm’s East Hanover office. As co-leader of Friedman’s Public Company Services and Technology and Telecommunications practices, Smith provides audit, compliance and advisory services to publicly traded companies, working with and advising clients on matters like initial and secondary public offerings, reverse mergers, private investments in public equity and private placements. He still finds time to be involved with the firm’s China practice and serves on the AICPA’s National Professional Liability Insurance program committee. Smith has more than 30 years of experience in the private and public sectors, working with companies at all stages of their life cycles, from development-stage corporations to large multi-nationals. His clients have subsequently raised over $1 billion of capital in various debt and equity raises. His expertise includes working with and advising clients on various initial and secondary public offerings, reverse mergers, PIPEs and private placements; designing and documenting internal controls; managing reporting requirements for small-, mid- and large-cap companies; overseeing SEC compliance requirements; analyzing complex issues involving software revenue recognition, stock option and other equity issuances; assisting companies with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 internal control compliance requirements .

Alan Sobel 

Sobel has been a staple in the New Jersey Society of CPAs since 1987 and is now its immediate past president. He’s been managing partner at SobelCo for more than 20 years and last year helped craft a law that allows business owners to bypass the $10,000 federal cap on state and local property tax deductions. A former adjunct professor, Sobel is sought after for his expertise by publications like the New York Times and New Jersey Business Magazine; and by business owners of privately held entities in the manufacturing, retail, construction, distribution, real estate development and financial services industries.

Sean Stein Smith 

Stein Smith is helping businesses to deal with disruption. In a variety of capacities, including as an educator, as chair of the NJCPA Emerging Technologies Committee, and as a regular contributor to Forbes. and other publications, the Lehman College Assistant Professor and Bergen County resident is trying to explain complex developments in ways that a lot of people can understand. Right now he’s focusing on cryptocurrencies and blockchain — and what these advances mean for businesses and the CPAs who have to account for them and advise on them — but his research also encompasses integrated financial reporting, non-financial reporting, and the intersection of technology, strategic planning and accounting. Through his research and writing, Stein Smith is also involved in the effort to overhaul a bedrock of accounting — GAAP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles — which he said were developed for traditional, industrial transactions, but need to be revised to reflect today’s augmented, technology-driven activities. Stein Smith is also involved in two other front-burner concepts: continuous auditing; and accounting for ESG — or Environmental, Social and Governance — issues. Continuous auditing aims to utilize artificial intelligence and other technological advances to close the gap between traditional interim audit work and the real-time nature of business transactions — essentially updating, closing and reviewing the books every single day. ESG accounting is the developing practice of analyzing non-financial issues to identify material risks and growth opportunities. Some years ago, when Stein Smith first set out on his quest, some people thought he was tilting at windmills. “But now these kinds of ideas are gaining traction,” he noted. “The pivot to a digitally driven society sort of forces traditional accounting policies to catch up. We see the headlines about cryptocurrency, blockchain, ESG, and other issues, but now we’re working on ways to harness these tools and applications to help our firms and clients make better choices.”

Karen Taylor-Burke 

Recently recognized in the NJBIZ 2021 Leader in Finance awards, Taylor-Burke is a Partner at PKF O’Connor Davies in Livingston. She has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and has worked with a variety of clients in both the not-for-profit and commercial sectors. Taylor-Burke’s nonprofit clients include charitable organizations, unions, and voluntary health and welfare organizations. Her commercial clients are in the real estate and construction sectors. She also specializes in preparing Cost Certification Audits in compliance with NJHMFA and HUD, as well as assisting clients with further analysis to meet funding rules and regulations.

June M. Toth 

Toth is the managing member at ZBT Certified Public Accounting & Consulting in Clark. Her expertise gained over the past 25 years ranges from auditing, financial statement analysis, reporting and consultants, all the way to expert insight on economic damages and litigation. 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. That’s included over the past year how businesses can navigate the tax complexities of pandemic relief programs and other pandemic effects on companies, such as remote work. Her involvement in various NJCPA committees and groups – most recently as treasurer – and her ability to encourage others to be involved (and have fun while doing it), is a quality that everyone should aspire to have.

Stacey Udell 

Udell is the director of valuation, litigation and forensics for the mid-Atlantic region of HBK Valuation Group, based in Cherry Hill. She’s a core member of HBK’s cannabis group, helping cannabis businesses develop strategies to maximize value. “She’s very competent and very talented,” said one cannabis industry insider who noted her publishing successes. Most notably, 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 the State of 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. In this capacity, she covers a range of tax topics, from income and sales taxes to VAT and aviation excise taxes. Before entering the private sector, Vetlov 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. Vetlov also actively participates in the Global Business Alliance. 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. One colleague was particularly impressed with “Michele’s interest in working across state borders on tax and other issues,” noting that many New Jersey companies either have operations in New York State and Pennsylvanian or have employees who live in those border states. In July, as part of the continuing discussion, the NJCPA is scheduled to meet with its Pennsylvania counterpart, and “Michele is helping to lead this collaborative effort.”

Diane Wasser 

A frequent speaker and writer, Wasser was the first woman appointed to the EisnerAmper executive committee in 2014, and today is the Partner-In-Charge of the firm’s New Jersey Region. She also spearheaded the establishment of the firm’s Pension Services Group, a practice that brings in about a $12 million a year. As PIC, her responsibilities include office stewardship and growth, client service initiatives, talent maximization, and day-to-day operations and administration. She continues to be a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and is currently serving as the chair, leveraging her 30-years-plus of experience to counsel publicly and privately owned entities across the United States — including publicly listed businesses — on ERISA and other employee benefit plan audit and consulting matters. Wasser also efficiently and accurately manages audits for a wide scope of employee benefit and welfare benefit plans, including 401(k)s, 11-Ks, ESOPs, defined benefit and 403(b) plans.  Beyond pension services, Wasser is proud of EisnerAmper’s growing cryptocurrency, blockchain, cannabis and other advisory practices that didn’t even exist when she joined the firm more than 30 years ago. She is also assisting in the firm’s tech expansion, with EisnerAmper’s Enterprise Technology Group, to design a tool that automates the accumulation of information from payroll companies that’s used in audit testing.

Jay Weinstein 

As vice chair of Industries and Markets and a member of EisnerAmper’s Executive Committee, Weinstein is responsible for executing business strategies for existing markets and segments as well as identifying emerging opportunities. He also leads the firm’s innovation and technology initiatives.  Additionally, Weinstein is involved, on multiple levels, with the firm’s emerging initiatives, including the development of cryptocurrency and Special Purpose Acquisition Company practices — each of which has been very active — and an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) practice group. The Financial Accounting Standards Board is expected to soon issue guidance regarding enhanced ESG disclosures — basically how sustainability, diversity and other socially related issues will impact the operations of publicly listed firms — and he expects that practice to quickly experience robust growth. At the same time, Weinstein is assisting the firm as it meets other clients’ needs, including an increased demand for outsourcing. As such, the firm recently established a team that provides real estate management accounting services, along with one that provides CFO services on an outsourced basis. Other activities that fall under Weinstein’s far-ranging purview include assisting with the firm’s foray into health care analytics, such as creating a new software that helps hospital leadership ask key questions and analyze exceptions among surgical and other outcomes, pinpointing procedures and other issues for further investigation. He’s also involved with EisnerAmper’s NFP Insights software launch, which assists not-for-profits in compensation benchmarking, foundation gifting and other measurable activities by providing a deep look at expense ratios and other financial health metrics.

Harry Wills III 

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants named  Wills, a partner at Bowman & Co. of Voorhees, president for the 2021/22 term. Wills’ dedication to the NJCPA dates to 1987 when he first joined the organization. He is a past president of the Southwest Jersey Chapter and participated in numerous NJCPA committees and interest groups, including the NJCPA Scholarship Fund, Retirement Savings Plan Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and both the Federal and State Taxation interest groups. An advocate for growing the CPA pipeline, Wills plans to focus his presidency on initiatives to assist accounting students, young professionals looking to become CPAs and accountants advancing toward leadership positions. Wills is well-versed in giving back to the youth of the community, having spent years as a board member and finance chair of Symphony in C, one of the largest musical educational programs in Camden County. He has also been a member of Rotary International for over 25 years, assisting international as well as local students.