Dean Dorton’s annual IGNITE leadership conference, held on July 16-17, 2020, had a new “socially distanced” look this year as attendees and Dean Dorton team members did their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Even with strict gathering restrictions, the two-day conference offered a unique learning experience for 15 attendees who had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the accounting and business consulting profession, as well as to learn more about Dean Dorton.

Jeff Ricketts, Human Resources Manager

We were fortunate in our new Lexington office to have all the resources and necessary space to create a safe environment for IGNITE. This program is full of information that is essential for the attendees, and we take great pride in hosting a new group of young leaders each year.

This premiere program provides detailed educational opportunities for its attendees through hands-on case study simulations, a CPA exam tips and tricks conversation, and industry insights from Dean Dorton’s team members. This year, attendees experienced a smaller, more intimate program, allowing for more in-depth instruction and conversation with industry leaders in accounting, audit, tax, and our consulting services.


As attendees arrived for the first day of the IGNITE leadership program, they were greeted with mask-covered smiles, temperature checks, and a bag of COVID-19 prevention items to assure maximum safety during their time at the conference. The safety bags included masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and a card with safety rules and reminders.

A morning of networking and breakfast led to a welcome and introduction presentation from Dean Dorton’s Human Resources team. The IGNITE students were then split into small groups and led on a tour of the brand new, high tech Lexington office space. After the tour, it was time for the Dean Dorton Services Fair. Students took turns visiting stations, learning about all of the services that Dean Dorton has to offer. Each station was led by a service team leader, who facilitated discussion and took questions.

After the service fair, it was time for lunch with Dean Dorton team members, a short break, and games!

When business resumed, the students dove into audit, tax, and consulting case studies led by our team members. Attendees were able to experience the firm’s ‘new normal’ by working with several case study “clients” remotely. Multiple Dean Dorton team members, posing as clients, participated in the hands-on learning experience via video conference, adding an extra layer of complexity to each study.

After case studies were completed, Day 1 of the IGNITE leadership program came to a close at a socially-distanced networking dinner with team members.


What better way to start the second day of the IGNITE leadership program than with Franks Donuts? As students arrived for Day 2, they completed temperature checks and wellness evaluations to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Team members joined the future leaders for a little networking paired with donuts and coffee.

Activities started with a discussion around the CPA exam. Several team members assisted in walking attendees through helpful information, so students can one day ace the CPA exam. After the overview course, attendees participated in roundtable discussions for a more in-depth conversation on how to best prepare for the exam.

Next, David Bundy, President and CEO of Dean Dorton, joined the group for a Q&A session. Bundy shared some of his experiences working in the accounting industry, gave a brief history of the firm, and fielded questions.

Following the Q&A was the Dean Dorton Industries Fair. Attendees visited multiple stations to learn about a multitude of industries in which Dean Dorton provides services. At each station, an industry team leader facilitated conversation and gave an overview of unique aspects of each industry.

After hearing from our industry leaders, attendees paired with firm partners and directors for a conversation over lunch.

The IGNITE leadership program concluded with a community service activity. Attendees were split into three groups and went to William Wells Brown Elementary, Yates Elementary, and Cardinal Valley Elementary to assist the staff in preparing for the school year. The attendees helped with weeding outdoor gardens, clearing walkways, and organizing classrooms.

Fifteen students walked away from this annual leadership program with information about the firm, the ability to practice hands-on accounting tasks, and had some fun while meeting our team members. As we reflect on the IGNITE Class of 2020, we are enthusiastic about the future leaders of the accounting profession.