2022 Managing Partners Elite honors the best leaders of public accounting firms of all sizes across the country. In a series of portraits of the most successful managing partners from small, midsized and large firms, the list identifies the qualities and characteristics that make a cutting-edge leader.
Candidates are judged on a wide array of tangible and intangible criteria, including:
- Quantitative data on revenue and staff growth
- The growth and expansion strategies they have implemented
- Their leadership in building talented, dedicated staff
- Innovation in service lines, practice management, and client service
- Adoption and promotion of cutting-edge technology
CEO since 2005; joined in 1980
Like any exceptional leader, David Nissen has a vision — and he updates it for PKF Mueller every five years. The Illinois firm is currently operating under its 2024 vision statement, which set ambitious revenue and geographic expansion benchmarks, along with HR and technology goals. The firm has hit many of its growth plans throughout Nissen’s 17-year tenure, increasing revenue 375%, adding two offices, acquiring three firms, and adding six practice areas and five new niches. He also joined with a separate but related firm to form business process and outsourced accounting Mueller dotKonnect, for which he also serves as CEO.
But the firm is already hard at work on its 2029 vision plan, to be unveiled this summer. Along the way, Nissen welcomes input from his 300 employees through monthly meetings to discuss initiatives, revenue growth, process improvements and more, while maintaining the “family feeling” he characterizes the firm as having since its 1968 inception. He does this with everything from quarterly breakfasts for all new employees to sending personalized birthday cards to staff. But Nissen is not too internally focused to ignore other important sources of inspiration for how PKF Mueller can continue to improve. He regularly visits other CPA firms to exchange best practices: “This learning through sharing has been invaluable to me in my career and has helped me to become a better leader.”