Norman Colter is a beloved accounting professor at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. From his involvement in the Society as a member of the NMSCPA Board of Directors and the Student Pipeline Committee to his passion for teaching accounting, his dedication to encouraging future generations of CPAs is noteworthy and vital to the profession. When Norm is not in the classroom or heading to various committee meetings, you might find him enjoying a good glass of wine and a cigar, or reading IRS Tax Code for fun. We recently had the chance to speak with Norm about his experience as a professor and gain insight into what drove him to teach accounting.

 Norman Colter

Norman Colter, CPA, MBA

We hear a lot about “millennials”, what is your experience working with this generation? What qualities do they possess that set them apart?

When it comes to millennials, sometimes people say that they are not hard workers, but I find that to be completely untrue. I am very fortunate to be able to work with young students and to see some of the best and brightest who want to work hard and want to be challenged. I am very excited for the future because I think the millennials are really going to do great things. Today’s students are more knowledgeable, technologically savvy, and they know exactly what they want. I think millennials will find ways to work much smarter and get more work done than prior generations.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To be a better student and appreciate the knowledge that is being passed on to you coming out of high school. In order to do the things to get to your profession, you have to have a good strong academic background; it took me later in life to figure that out, so I worked harder later than I did earlier. My mother went to school through fourth grade and I am a first generation graduate. In my experience, having a strong academic background opens all the doors for you.

When I am not working, you can find me…

I love to sample cigars, taste wines, and I am an avid chess player. I love all the nuances of chess; I even attempted to get a ranking.

What are your hopes for the future of the profession?

I am very passionate about increasing the diversity of the profession. I think accounting is a great profession, but we need more people of color in the profession. Unfortunately, diversifying the pipeline is difficult, almost like a double edged sword. People of color don’t see the profession as diverse, which means they can’t identify with the accounting profession, yet the profession really wants and needs to diversify. I push all my students, but I really do try to push my minority students to strongly consider becoming CPAs because they don’t think they are going to be able to do it and haven’t had anyone encourage them. It’s important to have faculty of color that can communicate that message and I have actually made great strides serving as a faculty advisor for ALPFA and NABA.