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Keng second woman to lead state CPA organization as president

Linda Bounds Keng is the new president of the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA); only the second female president in the organization’s long history. But Keng, who is a CPA and an attorney, isn’t thinking about history or setting precedents. With her customary zest for the task at hand, the Hattiesburg native is considering how she can make things better for members of the professional association.

“For my main goal as president, I’m trying to find some new ways of doing things,” she said. “I’m noticing the strain on people’s time so we need to do more things by e-mail and with conference calls. We may have some growing pains as we try to make changes but we can do it. Also, I want to involve more people across the state.”

Keng is a shareholder with the Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis law firm and practices in the business solutions group of the Jackson office. Her areas of concentration include taxes, estate planning and employee benefits. Now that she practices law, she does not work in the accounting profession but feels strong ties to her former profession.

“I stay very involved with MSCPA. I’ve kept my contacts with them,” she says. “I developed a lot of friends and relationships in accounting. A lot of those people have encouraged me through the years.”

Now she’s honored to have the opportunity to serve the organization as president. “It’s a challenge and a lot of work, and I have some big shoes to fill,” she feels.

In the past she served in several offices with the local MSCPA chapter and as treasurer and a director with the state organization.

She doesn’t find her dual degrees in accounting and law odd at all. “They go well together,” she said. “In any business field that I deal with for law there’s a lot of accounting expertise needed.”

Growing up in Hattiesburg, she didn’t consider either profession. Her parents, John and Mary Bounds, were big influences in her life and continue to be. “They instilled in me a desire to work hard,” she said. “I always liked numbers but didn’t go to college thinking I would be an accountant.”

Keng is not sure why she ended up studying accounting at the University of Southern Mississippi other than the association with her mother’s cousin, the late Gerald Morgan, who chaired the department and taught an accounting class she took. He influenced and encouraged her to pursue a degree in accounting.

After graduation with honors from USM, she didn’t work in public accounting but went to work for the state in the treasury department and later in the comptroller’s department at University Medical Center. The law degree just sort of found her.

“I had friends in law and it interested me. I found out I could do tax law so I went to law school at night at Mississippi College and continued to work at UMC,” she said.

She received her law degree with special distinction in 1984 and her LL.M. in taxation cum laude from the University of Florida in 1986. In 2000 she joined Watkins Ludlam where she is active with the firm’s community involvement projects. Those projects include school partners, the community contributions committee, the Juvenile Diabetes Association and Community Stewpot.

“I’m not as active in legal organizations as I am the MSCPA,” she said. “It’s hard to juggle everything. The challenge of my career is the balance of time, taking care of clients, professional and community activities and family and personal needs. Unfortunately, it’s self that gets left out.”

Although Keng hasn’t found the secret of keeping all those balls in the air, she laughingly says getting very little sleep may be the key.

She is married to Randy Keng, who works with John Hancock Financial Services. They live on the Barnett Reservoir in Rankin County. When she has free time, she likes to read and float around on a raft in the pool. Then adds that getting on a treadmill is okay sometimes too.

Keng travels out of town a lot but it’s mostly for business. At some future date, she wants to travel for fun.

People might be surprised to learn that she’s a frustrated rock and roll singer. “Nobody wants to hear me sing,” she says. “I’m not sure why.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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