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November 5, 2012

NASBA President and CEO Ken Bishop is featured in the latest edition of the “Nashville Business Journal,” where he is asked about the challenge of taking on his newest role, the key attributes for today’s business leaders and why he doesn’t whistle while he works. Here is the full interview:

Q. What single thing makes your organization stand out?

A. NASBA is one of the largest regulatory support organizations in the world. Our boards of accountancy regulate nearly 750,000 U.S. CPAs who practice across the globe.

Q. What does your organization have in the works for 2013?

A. We are continuing to improve and develop new products and services. More specifically, we are positioning certain products and services to align with the global economy.

Q. How did you wind up in your current position?

A. I joined NASBA six years ago as president and CEO of a former subsidiary, Professional Credential Services. I was later asked to transition to NASBA and was serving as executive vice president and COO when the search to replace my predecessor, David Costello, was conducted. After a national search, I was chosen to lead the organization.

Q. What makes an effective business leader?

A. I am a firm believer that core principles and ethics, coupled with fundamental management strategies, position me to be an effective leader. The simple rules of “do the right thing,” “finish what you start” and “be accountable” have served me well.

Q. What word best describes your leadership style?

A. It is a word you don’t hear very often. The word is affiliative, which means promoting teamwork, organizational loyalty and a trusting work environment.

Q. Professional pet peeve?

A. Not showing up on time. Punctuality is key in all facets of professional life.

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. An interruption of one of our systems can disrupt candidates worldwide. We are constantly monitoring, assessing and improving systems while strengthening security, but the concern of failed systems and protected data is always an area of sensitivity.

Q. What is the simplest thing you never learned to do?

A. I could never whistle. I am not talking about whistling a tune — any kind of whistle.

Q. Favorite hobbies?

A. I work a lot of hours, so I really enjoy cruising on weekends in my Corvette convertible with my wife, Sheilah. We live near the Natchez Trace, and we enjoy visiting different segments of it. I also collect wine, and we enjoy visiting vineyards and wineries as often as we can.

Q. Pets?

A. Right now, we have one very spoiled Birman cat named Isabelle.

Q. Most prized possession?

A. I have several prized heirlooms, but a quilt made by my great-great-great grandmother during the Civil War is treasured in our home.

Q. Person outside of your family you would most like to spend time with on an island?

A. Jimmy Buffett, provided he had a guitar with him.

Q. You’ve just been given $100,000 to donate to charity. Where would you give it, and why?

A. The Jason Foundation. The foundation is doing a tremendous job in working to prevent suicide among young people across the country.

Q. When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

A. I always want to hire individuals who will fit into the culture of our organization. Those attributes are subjective and sometimes difficult to pick. I also consider military service to be an attribute that deserves consideration, as is seeking to balance the diversity of our employee mix.

Q. What would you like to cross off your “bucket list” next?

A. I would like to visit Ireland. My mother’s grandparents are Irish, and I have always wanted to visit there.

Q. What line of work would you pursue if you couldn’t work in your present one?

A. International security.

Q. Organization or company other than your own that you most admire?

A. One organization that stands out is the American Red Cross. My first career was in law enforcement, and I was able to see firsthand the direct support and great work done by the staff and volunteers at local, state and national levels.

Q. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

A. Most recently, my predecessor, David Costello, had a tremendous impact on my thoughts on leadership. I tend to be a pragmatic and linear thinker (and doer). David showed me the importance of creating a fun but productive work environment, to balance work with life and to be open to the thoughts and positions of others.

Q. What is the one behavior or trait that most often derails leaders’ careers?

A. I believe closemindedness and/or the unwillingness to change or accept change are negative attributes that ultimately will lead to a leader’s demise.

Q. They’re making a movie of your life. Is it a drama or comedy and who plays you?

A. It would be a drama (hopefully with some humor), and I would be played by Tom Selleck (Undoubtedly, it’s all about the moustache).

About Ken Bishop

Age: 61
Title: President and CEO
Company: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy
Address: 150 Fourth Ave. North, Suite 700, Nashville 37219
Employees: 175
Most recently read book: “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly
Favorite music artist: Ronnie Dunn
Education: B.A. in education and M.S. in criminal justice, University of Missouri Columbia; Graduate, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Executive Program; Graduate, Missouri State Highway Patrol Academy; Graduate, Federal Criminal Justice Academy
Community involvement
: The Jason Foundation, Nashville Downtown Partnership, Carnton Plantation Randall McGavock Society.

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