The “bean counter” trope is long past due for retirement, but what’s the alternative? Kevin Phillips argues it’s time for accountants to embrace their inner sage. We’ve all heard all the cracks about accountants: we’re boring, we’re annoyingly obsessed with tiny details, we’re bean counters. With our tedious controls and processes we get in the way of more interesting people doing more interesting things. We’re necessary, like flossing and medical checks are necessary, but f
The accountants attending our annual user conference earlier this year paused for thought about how to navigate the rapidly changing workplace as we move into the fourth industrial revolution. And, they asked some insightful questions about what it means to be a valuable employee today. Sameer Rawjee, the founder of Google’s Life Design Lab, and currently working with companies and schools to tackle continuous learning and purpose at work, sparked a lively audience discussion
“Am I an asset to my company? Or am I ….” The audience of accountants collectively inhaled, wondering if the attendee asking the question was going to go there. “Or am I just OpEx?” he asked, neatly sidestepping saying the word “liability” . Only an accountant could have summed up the existential crisis that we are all probably experiencing around our role in the workplace, in this way. The question came up during our recent annual user conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
Back in the day, when I set out on some of my first auditing jobs, I was accompanied by a formidable team of comptometrists. Their fingers were a blur as they entered lines of numbers into their comptometers — for the younger generation who have likely never seen one, this was a huge, key-driven calculator — and added up the trial balances. In those days, the human was the final word in accuracy. But by the 1990s comptometrists were a thing of the past. We had started trustin