ISCPA Member Spotlight

This feature spotlights members of ISCPA, their career path, and some fun and favorite things about them. 

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Kayla VandehaarKayla Vandehaar

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I can honestly say I don’t know, that’s the beauty of the profession. The opportunities are endless, you just have to be willing to take risks and work hard. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. In 10 years, I want to continue to be in a role that I feel challenged, empowered and know that I’m making a difference.

What (or who) motivates you the most? This is cliché, but my family and my faith. I have an amazing husband, a crazy 3-year-old little boy who keeps us on our toes and a 1-year-old daughter who is super close to walking! There is nothing better than walking into the house after work and getting an enormous hug followed by a sloppy kiss. I can’t imagine life without them! A favorite go-to verse is Proverbs 3:5-6.

What ways have you been involve in ISCPA and how have they benefited you? I’ve been on the LEAP Committee since I joined the Society in 2013. It’s a great committee to meet fellow CPAs as well as help shape the future of the Society. Building relationships in this industry is crucial and joining a committee or attending events are great to get your foot in the door.

What made you want to become a CPA? In college, I learned that many people in key management positions had their CPA, even though their titles may not be accounting specific. I learned that it was a way to differentiate myself from others and help propel my career forward. I’ve had several unique opportunities that would not have happened or even been an option without being a CPA.

What's your best piece of advice for a college student thinking about becoming a CPA? Again, building relationships is key. You never know when you’ll meet a future co-worker, boss or even client. Be genuine and authentic, don’t try to rattle off code sections or recite depreciation methodologies that you learned in college. I think in any business, showing that you care about people can take you further than just having the degree/designation.

Kayla joined ISCPA in 2013. She is a member of the ISCPA LEAP Committee and has participated in the Society’s 2017 Virtual Career Showcase for students and volunteered for Iowa CPAs Month of Service. She and her husband Matt have two small children, Brady (3) and Peyton (1) who keep life busy and fun.

Outside of being a CPA, Kayla enjoys cheering on the Cyclones and volunteering with Polk County Extension and 4-H.

See past Member Spotlight features:

Job: Fraud risk audit consultant, Nationwide Insurance

ISCPA member since: 2014

Alma mater: AIB College of Business, Associate of Business in Accounting; Graceland University, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Business Administration; Florida Atlantic University, Executive Masters of Accounting, concentration in forensics

Hometown: Earlham, Iowa


I was inspired to be a CPA because: The designation carries the utmost respect behind it

Favorite thing about my job: I’m just starting a new role, but am very excited to lead such a great Fortune 100 company’s enterprise-wide fraud risk assessment

Passed CPA exam: 2006

Celebrated passing the CPA exam by: Moving to Atlanta for my first forensic accounting job

Professional/community activities: President of Des Moines Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, fraud awareness presentations

First job: Worked at a campground

When I have free time I prefer to: Spend it with my family

Favorite food: Pork chops

Favorite movie: Office Space

Last book I read: Children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

In high school I was: Nerd, jock

I am passionate about: Continuous learning, sharing knowledge and insights with students and others through training and speaking

Favorite quote: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Editor’s note: As any good sheriff would do, James kept a lid on some hot news until he had the proof. The day after our interview, he contacted us to share that he was offered a job opportunity at Nationwide Insurance. He starts his new role Jan. 4.