A real innovator

In today’s world, many of us are learning how to best utilize technology to adapt to a new frontier of remote learning and virtual work environments.

But for Shayna Chapman, she was taking advantage of the virtual space long before it was cool.

Amid the landscape of the current COVID-19 crisis, many businesses and individuals are having to learn how to operate in an all-new, all-digital environment. But that is exactly the space Chapman best thrives in.

Chapman has been utilizing the same virtual spaces that many professionals across the country are just now becoming familiar with for years. And she has used that experience to help grow her own CPA firm, Shaynaco LLC., since taking over the firm once belonging to her father and reinventing it back in 2014.

“During the pandemic, life has changed a lot for everyone. This is definitely true of CPA firms as well,” said Chapman, a 1997 graduate of Marshall University. “We have been tasked with changing our whole way of doing business during the most difficult season of our year – tax season. Our ways of communicating and preparing work can no longer be, ‘this is how we’ve always done it.’ In addition, our focus has changed to helping our clients and their businesses through this turbulent time. My team has worked harder this year than any tax season I can remember.

“Lucky for us, we had almost all systems in place to be a 100 percent remote firm. So then it was a matter of sending people home and putting those plans in place for the longer term. Along with the challenges, however, I see opportunities. This is the time to make positive changes, both for my firm and for my clients. All of those lists of changes that were for ‘someday in the future’ are now a top priority. While it is a difficult time for everyone, I love seeing the positive changes happening within the industry with style of management and client relationships. Currently, I am helping with several podcasts, webcasts, and CPEs (Continuing Professional Education) regarding remote workforce and the technology to make it successful.”

And it is no surprise why professionals within her industry have called on her to help usher her peers into this new environment. Her forward-thinking attitude has helped Chapman grow a client base of customers learning a new way of doing business.

“I didn’t want to be your father’s accounting firm,” Chapman said. “My goal with this firm is to dive deep into technology and use it to make lives better. We use all cloud-based and remote technology to operate. This allows us to provide Client Accounting Advisory Services. My team runs the back-end office environment for clients. I spend a great deal of my time on the tax and accounting advisory side, as well as making sure we are always moving forward with technology.”

Through her successes, Chapman has enjoyed a plethora of recognition and awards during her young career, from being honored on 40-under-40 lists to being recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting.

“I cannot say enough what an honor it is to be recognized with the awards I have been given. To know I have a voice in a sea of professionals is sometimes unbelievable,” Chapman said. “I’ve not only been given these awards, but I’ve been a part of ad campaigns for software, blogged for various tech companies and industry outlets, and been a voice for small firms and our clients nationwide.”

In 2019, Chapman was recognized nationally with the Sage Circle of Excellence Award for her work in the social media space, utilizing social platforms to help connect with industry professionals while better serving her clients.

“We can all make fun of social media. You have people who love it and people who hate it. For me, as a small practitioner, social media has been a lifeline,” Chapman said. “I’ve ‘met’ people on Twitter and started communicating with them and have since met regularly at conferences. Now I use social media as a platform for ideas – both to present them and to exchange them. Each social media platform has its uses. Social media has been instrumental in the development of my career.

“To be recognized by a company like Sage is an amazing honor. The Sage Circle of Excellence Award was such an unexpected treat.”

And to think, Chapman’s rise to national recognition all began in the small town of Gallipolis, Ohio.

Chapman grew up in the small town on the banks of the Ohio River before venturing to Marshall University in the early 90s. Chapman’s family grew up diehard Marshall fans, which eventually drew her to Huntington after a short stint at another university immediately after high school.

Following in the footsteps of her father, who earned an accounting degree at Marshall in 1969, Chapman earned her degree in 1997 and credits much of her success she enjoys today to her time on campus.

“Marshall was the perfect fit for me. I have so many fond memories of Marshall University. What I liked most about the school was the size of it. I felt like I was part of a family,” Chapman said. “And I was fully invested in the university. From being vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi, to Chief of Staff of Student Government, to Homecoming attendant, I made the most of every second on campus.”

Today, Chapman remains in contact with many of her friends and even some of her advisors and professors who helped mentor her during her time at Marshall.

“The accounting department at Marshall was such a close-knit community. When I went to a larger university, I felt lost there, like no one cared about me,” Chapman said. “When I arrived at Marshall, I was really concerned about how I was going to fit in. As I found my way in the College of Business, all of the professors really mattered to me. The teachers reminded me of the caring of my father. I wanted to do well for them.

“Marshall gave me such an opportunity. The opportunity to learn. The opportunity to socialize and expand my contacts. The opportunity to prepare for my career. I learned quickly that you have to go after what you want and it is up to you to grab it. The clubs, the guidance from the department and professors, the meet-and-greets they put together with firms, were all invaluable. Each opportunity I seized led to the next one being available. And that is why I am where I am today.”

During her time in college, Chapman interned at Sommerville and Company and, after graduation, took a position with Simpson and Osborne CPAs based in Charleston, WV. She spent four years with the firm, learning the ins and outs of what she calls a fantastically forward-thinking company, before returning home in 2002 due to a family illness.

Once there, she did something she never thought she would ever do – she went to work for her father. By 2005, Chapman became a partner in the firm and ran the day-to-day operations before rebranding the firm Shaynaco in 2014. Today, she works with clients across the region, helping meet their needs and being there for them no matter the situation.

“So often I have potential clients meet me and they are stressed out. They know how to do whatever their business is in business for, but they don’t know how to run the business side of the business,” Chapman said. “I love that I have built a firm that has the ability to take a client like that, remove so much stress, and put information at their fingertips. Our firm’s culture is built around both the team and the client are family. We implement the very best technology and methods to relay the most accurate and timely information. In doing so, our hope is the client can relax and enjoy the truly important things in life.

“I actually can get really emotional about taking away a client’s anxieties and giving them back their time and peace of mind.”

While her return home was not the career path that she expected at the time, Chapman said that returning to where her journey began was a blessing in disguise. It showed her that, no matter where you are from or where you end up, you can make amazing things happen if you are driven to succeed.

“I think it is very important for students at Marshall and our area to understand – you have the ability to be anything you choose to be. Do not let where you come from be an excuse,” Chapman said. “There were times I worried that moving from a larger firm back home to my small hometown was going to mean I had failed. But I haven’t.

“It was while I was in this small firm, taking the bull by the horns, reaching out to tech companies, trying to get a seat at the table, devouring every bit of knowledge I could from those that know so much, that I found my own voice and began using it. What wonderful people I have in my life to give me those opportunities and continue to let me use my voice to help propel the profession into the future.”

Today, Chapman continues to reside in Gallipolis, spending time with her boyfriend, teenage son Brayden and three dogs. She also does a lot of volunteer work in her community, giving back in the same ways that so many have given to her. And that includes giving advice and helping young people achieve their dreams like Marshall helped her.

“I’m so proud to be a Marshall alumna. I’m a true believer in the positive effects it has, not only on the university’s students, but on the community as a whole,” Chapman said. “Beyond our region, Marshall has the ability to connect people together across the entire country, making us all feel like family. That doesn’t sound important when choosing a college in high school, but when you get older, it’s one of the things that you appreciate most.”