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Emerging Leaders Academy

Registration is closed for the year. We will open a new class in January 2019 for the program year beginning June 2019.

With an entire generation moving ever closer to retirement, our profession is standing on the threshold of dramatic change.

The next decade will see the departure of thousands of stakeholders, and many are wondering if the next generation is ready to take the reins of leadership.

Most firms recognize the need to prepare their future leaders.  Some have tried—with only limited success—to develop their own programs.  Others have looked beyond the profession, only to experience the frustration of trying to adapt outside programs.  Many agree that with only rare exceptions, we haven’t done what’s really needed to train our future leaders.

Quality programs exist, both within and outside of public accounting.  But as we’ve talked with managing partners, they’ve shared with us their concerns about what’s currently available and what they’d like to see in a program to prepare future firm leaders.


ELA Brochure

We believe an exceptional leadership development program must possess the following key characteristics
  • much of the training needs to be done by current firm leaders — they must not abdicate this responsibility
  • learning must be continuous, delivered in digestible doses regularly throughout the year
  • each participant needs to have a guide, a trusted and respected leader from within the firm
  • individuals must be able to apply what they’ve learned by setting and accomplishing challenging goals
  • the learning experience needs to be easily customizable to meet individual and firm needs
  • the progress of each participant must be measurable
  • participants need to be able to network with other emerging leaders outside the firm
  • the program must be affordable and require minimal travel

The greatest opportunities for growth are found at the edges of our comfort zones and can be greatly enhanced by focused, proactive effort.  The worst mistake we could make with Emerging Leaders Academy is to ask too little of our profession’s future leaders.

The program is $3,400 per participant per year (UAN members pay $2,900 per year).

Frequently Asked QuestionsLog into the On-line Progress Tracking program (OPT) for Emerging Leaders Academy participants

Emerging Leaders Academy Introductory Presentation:

This exciting program gives firms the tools they need to create highly customized leadership development maps for each of their future leaders.  Here’s what makes Emerging Leaders Academy unique.

1 Leadership Development Goals

We believe leadership skills are best learned by “doing,” and participants will be required to identify and accomplish specific goals.

Each year, Upstream will provide a list of goals. Participants will complete certain goals identified as mandatory, as well as select from a menu of other goal choices in each area. Guides will work closely with participants as they make these choices each year, helping them either select or modify selected goals suggested by Upstream or create new goals that better meet individual or firm needs. With guide-ensured accountability, accomplishing challenging goals will allow participants to apply what they’ve learned and give value back to the firm.

2 Leadership Project

Each year, participants will complete a challenging (10+ hours) leadership project that satisfies one or more goal requirements and allows individuals or teams of emerging leaders to further develop important skills.  Upstream will assist by providing project advice, suggestions and examples, and guides will work closely with participants to ensure accountability and accomplishment of the desired objectives.

3 Guides

The process of learning new principles and skills is almost always easier if accompanied by someone who has previously walked the same path.  Managing partners will assign emerging leaders to experienced guides, respected stakeholders from within the firm who will work with participants throughout the three-year program to help them set and accomplish goals and complete assignments.  Upstream Academy will provide training and materials to individuals who are selected to serve as guides.

4 Leadership Training Forums

During each year of the program, several one-hour webinar conference calls led by Sam Allred or Tim Bartz will provide a forum for discussing key principles of leadership. 

Participants will receive the PowerPoint, questions to consider, and other materials in advance of the presentation and afterward will have access to the recorded presentation online.

Leadership Training Forum Topics

5 Measured Progress

It’s difficult to know if you’re on course unless there’s some way to measure progress.  Upstream Academy will provide tools (including an online “members only” page) for the participants and their in-house guides that will allow them to track progress on goals and projects throughout the year, network with other program participants and stay connected.   Firms will also receive guidance on best practices for creating an organized, efficient process in-house to help their emerging leaders grow during this three-year period. 

6 Free Registration at One of Our Major Events

Networking with peers in a stimulating group environment is an important experience for all professionals, and especially for future firm leaders.  Program participants will have the option of attending our HeadWaters, BestPractices or Emerging Leaders conferences.  At the conferences, Sam Allred will lead a special session for emerging leaders.

HeadWaters Conference
Click for more information on the Emerging Leaders Conferences
BestPractices Conference
HeadWaters Conference
Emerging Leaders
BestPractices Conference


7 Experienced Consultants Sam and Tim Tim Bartz Bio Sam Allred Bio

Sam Allred and Tim Bartz, the founders of Emerging Leaders Academy, bring many years of leadership and consulting experience to this exciting program. They are acclaimed by Inside Public Accounting at two of the top ten consultants to the profession.

Sam Allred is a Director of Upstream Academy.  He interacts with hundreds of CPA firms around the world each year via professional conferences, partner retreats, and conference call presentations.  Sam is widely regarded as one of our profession’s top strategic thinkers.

Tim Bartz is a Director of Upstream Academy and a respected consultant and energetic speaker, Tim’s passion for meaningful change is infused and tempered by the realism born of his many years as Anderson ZurMuehlen’s visionary leader.

8 Unconditional Guarantee

We’re confident that Emerging Leaders Academy will be of immeasurable value to your firm and its future leaders.  Like everything we do at Upstream Academy, this program is unconditionally guaranteed to your full satisfaction.  If you’re not completely satisfied, we will, at your option, either waive your fee or accept that portion of the fee that reflects your level of satisfaction.

Some Advice on Setting Goals and Maximizing Guides' Expertise



Here's What Participants Have Told Us About the Program