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The Mystery of the Unhappy CPA [The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now]

The Mystery of the Unhappy CPA [The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now]

The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now”  3-part blog series

Written By Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely

Part 1

Judi Grutter and I both shared a type preference of INTJ. We loved dissecting assessments and got unreasonably excited about atypical or unexpected results. “There was this mechanical engineer who was a verified ENFP with a Holland code of RIC,” she’d say, and I’d counter with an “Oh yeah? Well I have an electrical engineer who is an ESFP and SAC!” You know you’ve found your people when you speak the same language.

When Judi asked me to join her as her lead trainer at GS Consultants, I jumped at the opportunity to work for her and her company. That was about seven years ago, and since then I have had the privilege of certifying thousands of practitioners on the Strong Interest Inventory® (Strong) assessment (both online and in-person) from all over the world. Judi presented the “Ask an Expert” webinars for CPP for over a decade, and now, with her passing, I have the honor of continuing that tradition for her and for GS Consultants.

CPP’s May 7th “Ask an Expert” webinar was an overview and review of the Strong assessment—Judi’s (and my!) most beloved of career instruments. I want to tell you a true story that will give you a peek into the basics of the Strong as well as the depth of information it can provide…


The Mystery of the Unhappy CPA

A new client of mine walked into my office wearing a suit and tie and carrying a black briefcase. ”I’m a public accountant,” he said, “and for the first time in 15 years I am questioning my choice of career.”

As we talked, I learned that he had completed his bachelor’s degree in accounting, had thoroughly enjoyed his studies and accounting internship, and had landed a position after graduation with a major accounting firm. That was 15 years ago. He had been loyal to his firm, they had been loyal to him, and the trajectory he had started on in college had been textbook. But now he was in my office—concerned, discouraged, and unsure about his path for the first time in his adult life.

strong_interactiveConventional, through and through, I thought to myself. I was imagining John Holland’s RIASEC hexagon with a person in each Theme corner. This man seemed like the poster child for the C Theme. And yet here he was for a career counseling appointment, wondering what had happened. I was eager to dig in and see where our conversation would go.

I learned that in his 15 years as a CPA, he had always enjoyed the client contact, the teamwork, the analysis, the evaluation and auditing work, and even training junior accountants. He had the skills, had succeeded in his field, and his personality seemed like a direct-hit with his chosen line of work. So what was the problem? Well, he no longer felt satisfied; he no longer believed this work was “his calling.”

Hmmm…I was interested. I wanted to know more—for what had piqued my curiosity initially were the words he had chosen to describe his situation. Of course as in any career field, public accounting professionals come from all walks of life. But I had expected him to use terms like fit or burnout or even just needing a change.  But he had used the word calling, and I knew I wanted to administer the Strong assessment to him.

iStock_cherylblog2Taking the Strong is like taking your temperature, as it provides you with the opportunity to see where you are right now. What aspects of our personality are leading you? What interests are most compelling?

The webinar I presented on May 7th is an overview of the Strong and what the various scales mean. You’ll see why the Strong was my instrument of choice for this client. Since he was at a crossroads, I believed that it would help the two of us uncover and better understand the points of disconnect he was experiencing. He was game to take the assessment, and so after giving him the administration directions and the login information to take it, we made an appointment for the following week…

When I processed his results a few days later, I couldn’t wait to meet with him. Yes, there were scales that spoke to “accounting,” but there were also some other very interesting results.

Stay tuned for my next blog to see what those results were…


Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely is lead trainer for GS Consultants, founded by Judith Grutter. GS Consultants has provided webinars for CPP on the Strong and MBTI® assessment for almost a decade.

On May 7th, Cheryl presented the CPP “Ask an Expert” webinar “Strategies & Overview of the Strong Interest Inventory® Assessment.” View now >>


The Strong Interest Inventory® assessment is one of the world’s most widely respected and frequently used career planning tools. It has helped both academic and business organizations develop the brightest talent and has guided thousands of individuals—from high school and college students to midcareer workers seeking a change—in their search for a rich and fulfilling career.

Watch this short and insightful video to get a glimpse of what the tool can do for you:



One Comment

  1. I just read your mystery of the unhappy CPA and it could have been about myself. I was a CPA for a big 4 firm and after moving to Houston became my first career counseling client. I am just hearing for first time of Judi’s passing and so sorry to hear news as I loved learning from her when I took your online course

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