Bridget Kaigler, CPA, CGMA, CMA, MBA is a seasoned professional with more than twenty years of experience in tax and financial analyses. Bridget’s humble beginnings and non-traditional path to becoming a CPA was the foundation and encouragement to begin her own company, Bringing Leadership Back, LLC. The company was founded to help aspiring leaders grow.
Bridget is the recipient of the 2021 Society of Louisiana CPAs Distinguished Public Service Award and is a frequent speaker and freelance writer on the topic of leadership and career strategy. She was featured by Career Mastered Magazine, Accounting Today, Journal of Accountancy, and was the cover story “Bringing Leadership Back: Perspectives in helping aspiring leaders grow” in Lagniappe Magazine.
Here are the highlights from this interview:
- Bridget was raised by her grandparents and was encouraged to go to college, but they unfortunately both passed away when she was 18
- She felt like she lost her “cheerleaders” when they passed away so she didn’t start college after finishing high school and wound up marrying at a very young age and divorcing.
- During that time she had a son and he became her motivation to figure out her next steps
- At the time she was working minimum wage, part-time jobs, she had disconnect and eviction notices
- It was a struggle being a single parent and not having the support system she had with her grandparents
- To make ends meet she took temp jobs as a receptionist, a telemarketer, and as admin
- For 3 years she didn’t have a car and needed to take the bus with her young son, drop him off at daycare, get back on the bus, and take it to her temp job
- One day a complete stranger came up to her, as she was complaining about her situation, and said “I don’t know you. I don’t know what you’re going through, but I feel like I need to tell you, but what’s going to get you out of it is an education.”
- That stranger changed her life by echoing what her grandparents wanted for her as well.
- She decided right then and there, a change starts now.
- She needed to find a university that she could still work full-time and take school at night, having to support her son.
- Although she was studying accounting, having one professor ask her if she considered becoming a CPA, that also changed the trajectory of her life and career.
- She says she wouldn’t change anything about her journey because she learned her journey wasn’t about her; it was about all the people she would cross paths with that would hear her story and that it would give them hope.
- Even though she started her education and career later than most, she believes that we can all encourage each other and share our stories in order to bring hope to others.
- Because of her struggles she has so much openness and compassion for others as well.
- When she started leading her own teams, she started approaching leadership in a different way.
- Her state’s CPA society recognized how powerful her non-traditional path and story are and encouraged her to speak about her struggles and her experiences.
- She discovered how to improve her confidence and she encourages leaders to have a vision.
- She asks you to not be afraid to ask for help, to be vulnerable, and to find those mentors and allies that can support you.
- She shares that we need to define what success looks like for you, not what it looks like for others, and to check in with yourself at various stages in your life to redefine what success means to you at that point in your life.
- She encourages you to dream big and just start taking action on micro goals.
- Ask yourself what your “personal brand” is and don’t let others define what you’re capable of.
- Her 5-year vision is to support the accounting profession, to encourage non-traditional individuals, to expand her reach in diversity and inclusion, and to move forward with her company Bringing Leadership Back.