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Count Me In®

IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)

IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) brings you the latest perspectives and learnings on all things affecting the accounting and finance world, as told by the experts working in the field and the thought leaders shaping the profession. Listen in to gain valuable insight and be included in the future of accounting and finance!

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May 15 2019
1 min
Ep. 184: Bharat Kanodia - “That company is worth what!?” - an insider’s view of business valuations.Ep. 183: Casey Woo – CFOs are on a mission to growEp. 182: Tamara Ghandour - Harnessing The Power of Innovation – EverydayEp. 181: Kristen Donnelly - The Never-Ending Journey of DE&I
Connect with Kristen: http://bit.ly/ARDigesthttps://www.linkedin.com/in/kristendonnellyphd/Full Episode Transcript:Neha: (00:05) Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host Neha Lagoo Ratnakar, and we are now starting episode 181 of our series. Today's guest is Dr. Kristen Donnelly. Kristen is a celebrated TEDx speaker and founder, and one of The Good Doctors of Abbey Research. Join Kristen and my co-host Adam, as they talk about her work as an empathy educator and how companies and leaders can become more inclusive. So keep listening as a handover with the mic to Adam.  Adam: (00:47) So Kristen, as we get started, I think it would be best for us to define some terms that our listeners may think they understand, but you know, they really may not. Things like diversity, oppression, equality, equity, tolerance, and privilege. These are all terms that we hear in the media a lot. And I think people, they think they understand what they mean, but maybe you can help us by level setting.  Kristen: (01:08) I would love to break that down. So in order to do that though, allow me to kind of set the stage a little bit if you wouldn't mind. Of course. So one of the first things to understand is that the world is set up for some people to be the default definition of human and all around the world, infrastructure, laws, education systems, inventions are all unless, you know, otherwise determined, honestly set up with the default idea that humans will be male. They'll be probably middle to upper middle class. They'll be fully able bodied. Most likely they're gonna be white. They're gonna be cisgendered. Which means that their gender identity matches the sex their body was born with. They're going to be heterosexual and their life goals are going to include things like a mortgage and a partnership and children. Generally, that's the default.  Kristen: (02:10) So when we make working hour laws, we assume that it's a man with a partner at home. When we make cell phones, the only hands that Apple ever tests cell phones on are male hands. When we talk about, you know, what we should pay people. When we talk about how quickly you can pay back your student loans. When we talk about lots of things, whether we realize it or not, we are assuming that the people we are talking about is that category I just defined. So anyway, in which you line up with any of those categories, if you're a male, if you're white, if you're able bodied, if you're middle to upper middle class, if your BMI is socially acceptable, if you're cisgendered, if you're heterosexual, generally, what that means is that you have privilege. Privilege means the system is designed to work for you because you were what they had in mind.  Kristen: (03:07) When they designed the system, there is no shame or judgment or moral imperative that comes with that. There is just, the system is designed to work for you. If you're thinking the, and you're like, that's not true, cuz blah, blah, blah. It's probably cuz you've never seen the system because the system is designed to work for you. So then where oppression comes in is any way in which you don't line up with those systems, the degrees of oppression and privilege vary from category to culture and everything else. The other important piece to understand in this conversation is the phrase, "intersectionality". Intersectionality is a term coined by Dr. Kimberly Crenshaw back in the 1980s, she's a legal scholar. And now she's known often for being one of the four thinkers in critical race theory, which is not what we are teaching children in school.  Kristen: (03:59) I will just simply say that here. It's I have a PhD in sociology and I didn't learn critical race theory. So I promise that fifth graders are learning something a little bit different, but Kimberly Crenshaw came up with intersectionality to acknowledge the fact that while all women are oppressed on some level black women experience oppression at a more significant level than white women do. And essentially what it has come to real mean as social scientists is that we are all a lot of things at once. I am not just a woman. You are not just a whatever you are. I am not just white. I am not just middle class. I'm not just educated. I am all of these things and they come together in very specific ways. It's kind of like the back of a cross stitch. We're all kind of, we're all just a lot of things to make up who we are in the front of the cross stitch.  Kristen: (04:49) Every society has different priorities in terms of which of those threads are privileged and not. I say all the time, like, you know, we, we can add in othering and normal as well for the phrases of privileged and oppressed. If you're normal in your society, you are privileged. If you are othered, you are oppressed in some way, but again, your mileage may vary. Degrees vary here. I have oppression as a woman, for sure. I don't have the same level of oppression in the United States as I would have in Saudi Arabia. But that doesn't mean that I don't have oppression in the US. So the, so there's that. So there's privilege there's intersection, there's othering, there's oppression. All of that. What I like to say is that meaning that everybody is all those things all at once. Actually means that we're all diverse creatures as it is.  Kristen: (05:45) So none of us are one thing which means that you can't create diversity within your organization or your family or your social circle because everyone is already diverse. What you need to do instead is create inclusivity. And inclusivity is the decision to let everybody show up on their own terms and not determine the shorthand for who they are. And we get that shorthand through using tolerance and tolerance is simply saying you are alive because I cannot kill you. That's it. Tolerance is drilling everybody down to the easiest, common denominator that we can see when we look at them and putting them in categories that are easy for us to interact with it denies people, their personhood and their complications. It allows us to say, well, I can't ever know that person, cuz they voted for someone different than me. I can't ever know that person because they're gay. I can't ever know that person because they're evil. And instead if we eliminate tolerance, which is one of my life missions and we understand that everybody's already a diverse person in front of you, you're diverse, I'm diverse. We're all diverse heyo. What we're actually trying is create inclusivity. Then we can have the hard conversations about how to do that. But let's eliminate the myth that tolerance gets us anywhere.  Adam: (07:12) Wow. So you've covered a lot of things and I wanted to kind of circle back to where you started, where you were talking about the ideal human, right? Mm-hmm, so if you don't meet that criteria, you become an other.  Kristen: (07:24) In some way.  Adam: (07:25) In some way, right? So a lot of times when we get separated and we try to find others who have been othered, who are othered like us and we come together because we wanna feel comfortable with somebody who's been othered as well.  Kristen: (07:37) Absolutely.  Adam: (07:38) But is that so bad that we do that?  Kristen: (07:41) No, if that's, if it's the end goal and you stay in that group, maybe.  Adam: (07:46) Okay.  Kristen: (07:46) Or if you all pretend that the only thing you are is that thing you got othered for. Then I think it gets limiting. That is a weird word. I like to talk about limiting more. So if so, let's say that you and I really bonded over the idea that we were both, let me pick something. That's kind of silly. We really, really loved brussels sprouts as kids. Kids don't love brussels sprouts. No, but let's say that Adam, you and I were super into brussels sprouts when we were little. And so they would serve brussels sprouts at the cafeteria and we would have to sit at our own little table because nobody else wanted to talk to us cuz nobody else wanted brussels sprouts. So if you and I only we ever talked about our love of brussels sprouts and all we ever were to each other was the only person, the other person that loved brussels sprouts. We'd be missing a lot.  Adam: (08:33) Yeah.  Kristen: (08:36) So instead we should use it. What is best practice of humanity if you were, is I say, okay Adam, I love brussels sprouts, but I am also chronically ill. I am also somebody who has seen what addiction looks like. I am also somebody who does all these things. So now you go through your life and you're like, so I had this friend in elementary school who really loved brussels sprouts. And through that bond, I learned from her what her experience was life being chronically ill. And now I see the world just a little bit through her eyes of what it must have been like to both love brussels sprouts and be chronically ill. And your world view gets bigger.  Adam: (09:20) Yeah.  Kristen: (09:21) You see the world in a different way because you and I took the time to take 30 seconds and talk about something beyond brussels sprouts  Adam: (09:30) And then circling back to inclusivity. Our table would be maybe other who would join in saying, Hey, you know what? I've never had a brussels sprout, but let me sit with the brussels sprout people and learn from them. And that kinda brings everybody together. And  Kristen: (09:43) We don't say we don't make the rules that like, okay, well, you know, what we really need at this table is we really need somebody who also loves brussels sprouts and carrots. And so I don't wanna talk to anybody who doesn't also love brussels sprouts and carrots and we just say, Hey humans, how do you wanna come here? Do you wanna come here? Because you don't know anything about brussels sprouts or even better. You hate brussels sprouts, but you're cool with sitting with us who love it.  Adam: (10:10) Yeah.  Kristen: (10:11) Cool. Let's all move forward from there. And you get to show up on your own terms still within the social contract, still within boundaries that we set you don't get to show up as an asshole.  Adam: (10:24) Yeah.  Kristen: (10:25) We have the right to kick you out if you're an asshole, we don't have the right to kick you out just because you like carrots or don't like carrots.  Adam: (10:33) So when we look at the term DE&I, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion, a lot of people think that the E is for equality, but it's equity and like, why is that? Like, what's the difference there?  Kristen: (10:45) That's a great question. I mean the most common answer you're gonna get is that baseball fence analogy, picture that everybody gives you. What I really love to do is equality is great. I'm a huge fan of equality. Equality just says everybody should have equal access to resources. Yeah. Done. Yay. The issue is we can't really stop there because the world is the world. And so what equity does is take history into account. It's a quality with context. So when we're talking in the United States about housing, for example, let's, let's talk about housing. There has always been some group of people in the United States who has been denied housing based on their race. Always. Since before there was a United States. As soon as white folks showed up on this land, we started denying housing to people based on their race. So if a conversation about equitable housing, doesn't include historical systemic oppression of people not getting house cuz of the color of their skin, what are we doing? We've gotta rewrite some systems to make things equal. Equity is saying, we've gotta do some extra work to get to equality. That essentially equality is the thing that we all want. We all want equal access to resources. That's Nirvana, that's utopia.  Adam: (12:06) Yeah.  Kristen: (12:07) But we don't just get there by holding hands and wishing we could get there. There's some stuff that's happened in the last 65,000 years of human history that we've got account for. In Northern Ireland, for example, which is where my husband is from and where my PhD is. The civil rights movements in Northern Ireland started over housings. Because if you were baptized Catholic in Northern Ireland, you either could not get a house. Or it was very, very difficult to. Priority was always given to those baptized Protestant. So Catholics in the city of Derry or London Derry, depending on your persuasion started protesting for housing rights. It was about a lot of other things, but fundamentally they wanted housing rights. So now when you look at the charter in Northern Ireland for government housing, you have to say how you were baptized because they wanna make sure that there's equity in there. A lot of the funding of the peace projects was put towards communities that had been notoriously under resourced because we're trying to eliminate the things that kept us different and that kept people from using the system to their advantage. Is it perfect? Absolutely not.  Adam: (13:20) Yeah.  Kristen: (13:21) Is it weird? Is it now hard for people who grew up in Northern Ireland or wanna move to Northern Ireland and government housing and have no baptismal status? Yeah, that's real hard. But in 1998, the main issue was this. And so we addressed this main issue, but part of equity is saying, okay, we addressed that. We're doing okay on that. But here this solution introduced all of these other so problems. So let's keep working. My issue with DE&I work is that people assume it is an end goal. That is achievable. It's not, it's a process we keep doing because every time we include one group of people or one category or one idea we're gonna find ones that we didn't because humans are complex tapestries of all of those threads.  Adam: (14:05) Yeah.  Kristen: (14:06) And so it's a continual journey, a continual process that we intentionally engage in towards allowing people to be their full human selves.  Adam: (14:17) That kind of makes me think circle back to when you were talking tolerance. When I asked you the first question and how you're saying that it, we need to get rid of it. This it's almost like you have to get rid of a tolerance to get to that equity and equality that you were just talking about.  Kristen: (14:35) I think so, because it allows us an out. Tolerance lets me say, we can coexist. I also hate the coexist bumper stickers don't get me started, but like we can coexist without knowing each other  Adam: (14:47) Mm-hmm  Kristen: (14:48) And my point is like, you know, for audio listeners, this is where I gesture wildly to the planet. That's what's gotten us here. Yeah. Where no one knows people who think differently than they do or even worse. And this is what I think is even more endemic is that we know people who think differently than we do, but we don't know they think differently than we do because we haven't done the work to be the person in that they disagree with.  Adam: (15:11) Yeah.  Kristen: (15:12) We just say, oh, the minute it's uncomfortable, we're gonna shut that conversation down. Or the minute someone disagrees with me, they are the enemy and I'm not gonna talk with them about it. And that's what's gotten us here. And so my, my contention is we're here and none of us are very happy with here, so if we want somewhere new, we've gotta try new things. And I think new is getting used to the idea that even people who drive you insane are humans. As much as we don't wanna talk about it right now, Vladimir Putin is a human Adolf Hitler was a human And we have to wrestle the person who voted for the candidate you did not is a human. That the bully that you have to deal with is a human. I am absolutely not saying be in toxic relationships. But I am saying we have to start with acknowledging that every person is a human being.  Adam: (16:16) That's not easy to do, especially if that human being is hurting you greatly.  Kristen: (16:20) 100%. It is. It's why I always joke. If somebody gives you five easy steps towards practicing empathy, like five easy steps, they are literally selling you something, like, because it's so, and like, sometimes we are the person that's selling you something, but it's really simple. It's really straightforward, but it's really hard.  Adam: (16:40) Mm-hmm.  Kristen: (16:41) Holding the humanity and the dignity and worth inherent in every human person in tension with, you know, they're factually wrong or they're being abusive or they're just being a dick. Many things can be true at once. They can be a person and also be a pain in your ass. Those things can be true. And this is kind of where we have to start talking about boundaries about like where, you know, but I'm a big believer in informed choice. And so eliminating tolerance and leaning towards inclusivity allows us to make an informed choice about the person. Okay. I don't, I'm not gonna do a relationship with, not them because they're black or they're gay, or they voted for the other guy. I'm not gonna do a relationship with them because they are a toxic person in my life.  Adam: (17:26) Mm-hmm.  Kristen: (17:27) And I'm gonna set that boundary. That's hard, it's work. And it's movable. We really like to categorize people and keep them in those boxes. It's safe for us biologically. And we love safety. Our brains are always averse to things that aren't safe, even us risk takers. There's something in your brain that's gonna try to keep you safe. But that doesn't mean it's not worth it. And doesn't mean it's not possible,  Adam: (17:50) It's like we, humans have been putting ourselves in categories for, you know, 65 million thousand years that humans have been around. Like we put ourselves in categories. So it's gonna take a long time to get ourselves out of that, to actually see each other as humans in a lot of ways.  Kristen: (18:06) For sure. And I don't think we have to, like, I'm not somebody who's like, okay, we have to eliminate all categories. No, no, no, no. There are like, there are categories. Like we gotta do it. What we need to realize is that people are always more than what they're presenting you with.  Adam: (18:17) Yes.  Kristen: (18:17) There are always many categories. So instead of putting somebody in, like I joke, I joked a couple weeks ago on a podcast that like, instead of seeing somebody as a box from Amazon, what you need to understand is that everybody is the shipping crate that all those boxes came in.  Adam: (18:31) Mm-hmm.  Kristen: (18:32) And that we're all, all of our things. And some of those things include a lot of trauma. That mean that we can't do relationship with this category of people. Yeah. I have a really hard time doing deep, intimate, personal relationship with, with people who, you know, there's a couple different categories of life that I'm just like, I can't do intimacy with you, but I can get a drink with you. I can work on a committee with you.  Adam: (19:01) Yeah.  Kristen: (19:02) I can acknowledge that you're a person and that you have the right to those opinions. Even though they damage me. It doesn't get us anywhere to demonize people because of their beliefs. It just doesn't.  Adam: (19:15) Hmm.  Kristen: (19:17) And I hear folks being like, well, that's really easy for her to say, cause she's this white lady and all this other stuff, I'm not, again saying it's easy. I'm just looking at human history and realizing some, some changes we might need to make.  Adam: (19:31) Yeah. So as we kind of wrap up the conversation, one of the things that I've heard you mention in your Ted talks, is to decenter our worldview. So maybe we can talk about what are some, what are some steps? Here you go. Some steps that you can take to decenter people's worldview and start listening to each other.  Kristen: (19:50) Gosh, there are so many, so let me say again, let me caveat this with two things. So first of all, please hear me say that you right now are doing a great job at being a human. It's real hard. It's real hard. And none of us actually get educated in how to human. We learn by doing, we learned by doing it together. And we, the, one of the worst things that happened is we got sold in that at some point we are done. You're never done, you're never finished. You're always a creature in motion. So picking an area to grow in doesn't mean that you were a failure or wrong or evil or something before, or that you were bad before. This is just the area in which you're growing now. So do what you can to relieve yourself of the guilt, of not knowing things and then pick a thing.  Kristen: (20:50) So decentering your worldview is a constant process, and I'm not saying decenter yourself because we need to be priority. But how we see the world doesn't necessarily need to be. The story I frequently tell is that in 2001, after the Atlanta terrorist attacks on the Asian spas, my best friend and business partner and I realized that we didn't really know a lot about the Asian American experience. Neither one of us was in deep personal relationship with an Asian American immigrant. We didn't really know a lot about it. And so we realized that that was an area in which we could grow. So I emailed a friend who was married, who was a white American, married to a Cambodian immigrant. And I said, Cheryl, like, where do I start? How do I know? What do I learn? You know? And she said, well, I'm sure you've seen the PBS documentary.  Kristen: (21:35) And I was like, mm, come again. And she was like, okay, start there. It's six hours for Americans. It's free until 2033. It is six hours of the six biggest Asian American immigrant groups and the story of how they came to America, how they assimilated, what, what we did to them as a nation, what it looks like. I learned about things like the Chinese exclusion act and the true impacts of Japanese internment camps and why there are so many like people from Thailand that do nails, all of these things were covered in this documentary and it took six hours of my life. And so now I can, as I'm going through the world and sitting back, it didn't make me feel done. I can't speak for the entire Asian American experience, but I learned what the phrase bamboo ceiling means. I learned a phrase I learned about the not your model minority movement.  Kristen: (22:35) And so now when I encounter, and when I hear about anti-Asian American hate crime, I have some context to put it in. Took six hours of my life. They're even shorter ones. If you don't know, if you are not in a close personal relationship with somebody who is physically disabled. I highly recommend the documentary Crip camp. It was nominated for academy award two years ago. It's the story of the Americans with disabilities movement. It tells you exactly what the ADA is and what it isn't. Because by the way, if you are an American with a mental health documented issue, you are protected by the ADA. Did you know that? I didn't.  Kristen: (23:13) So what it does, the ADA actually mean? That's an hour and 45 minutes of your life. And then you, you know, you diversify who you follow on social media. If you're on Instagram, make sure you're following like organizations that you don't really know a lot about. And just listen. There's lots of small ways. If you're a sports fan, oh my gosh. Find a sport that you know nothing about. One of the best ones I can recommend is, is hurling. H U R L I N G. It's an Irish sport that doesn't really happen off of Ireland or outside of the Irish diaspora, but it's the fastest land sport on the planet. Google hurling, watch some videos, get to know it, dive in and learn what Gaelic sports are.  Adam: (23:57) That's pretty amazing. I went into YouTube spiral once watching it so I can attest.  Kristen: (24:02) Oh my gosh. It's like my husband's mother played it. She played Camogie, which is the women's version of it. When she was growing up in her teenage years. And that's how I learned about it. If you love food, pals, let me tell you, that is such an easy way to learn about, about like, if you are in a fairly adventurous eater, find a restaurant of an ethnicity that you've never eaten head in, say, Hey, I've never eaten here. I don't know your food, but I really love these flavors. Can you bring me something? Get humble, admit that you don't know things, start asking questions and continue the process. It becomes a discipline in a way, and it becomes like knee-jerk, but it takes a lot of work at first to remember that how you do humanity is not the only way to do humanity and you can have a richer human experience by learning how others do human.  Outro: (24:57) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
May 2 2022
25 mins
Ep. 180: Jim Rafferty - The Business of Gratitude
Contact Jim: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimrafferty1/Full Episode Transcript:Neha: (00:05) Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host Neha Lagoo Ratnakar bringing you episode 180 of our series. In today's episode, our guest is Jim Rafferty. Jim is a marketing and communications consultant and the author of Leader by Accident. My cohost Mitch Roshong, and Jim Rafferty talk about how cultivating a gratitude mindset helps transform leaders and organizations in extraordinary ways. To hear more let's head over to the conversation now.  Mitch: (00:50) So Jim, in your opinion, what are the most common characteristics of, or needed attributes for effective leadership in today's business environment?  Jim: (01:00) You know, I think the first word that would jump to mind would be empathy and that's always a quality we've needed in leaders to be sure. I think we need it more than ever before here over these last couple of years as we've all really had to adapt on the fly to a lot of changing circumstances. And all of a sudden your concern as a business leader is, you know, not only what your employee, your team member is doing in the office, but now whether they're also trying to, you know, homeschool their kids and take care of the dogs or an aging parent or whatever, as they're trying to work from home and get stuff done. And I think that's called for an enormous amount of flexibility and empathy on the part of leaders in the business environment.  Mitch: (01:43) And now oftentimes leaders are looked to for direction, right? They are providing others with information that they will ultimately need to adapt to, but this flexibility and adaptability, agility really is starting to shift into the role of the leader. So, again, in your words, how, or why do leaders need to be even more adaptable today?  Jim: (02:10) I think the, the sort of 10,000 foot view of leadership and, you know, this predates the pandemic, but maybe the pandemic sort of accelerated it is, you know, however many years ago we wanna look, the leader was the boss and he, or she told you what to, and you did it. And if you didn't, then there were consequences. And I think, you know, in a lot of cases, hopefully it's become more of a two-way thing. So, you know, the leader is not only talking, but listening and, you know, involving and engaging the team members and getting that feedback that ultimately is gonna make it a better place. And it's become less of a, my way. I hope it's become less of a, my way or the highway sort of situation because, you know, the saying that's the same, you know, then or now I think is, you know, people join companies and they quit bosses and they will quit bosses.  Jim: (03:02) We've seen this in the great resignation here, you know, dating back to, I guess, you know, November we're really the biggest numbers, but, you know, when they feel like they're not being listened to when they feel like they're not being engaged and, you know, in this whole remote work setting, that's become even a bigger challenge because we, we lose is that face to face thing, we lose the nonverbals that we would get if somebody's sitting across a desk from us and it just, it takes a little extra work and to reach a little deeper into the empathy bucket, so to speak if you're a leader.  Mitch: (03:33) And, you know, once a leader adapts, right. And, you said it, empathy is something that has always been important, but it's more of that adapting and their style, their behaviors, everything you just mentioned. I think one of the most important traits that we discussed previously that I would really like to hear your perspective on a little bit deeper is the idea of gratitude. So from the leader's perspective, again, it's more often, I believe historically, it's the employees that are grateful and express gratitude for the opportunities that are given to them. But from the leader's perspective, what does gratitude really look like?  Jim: (04:15) Yeah, my book, Leader by Accident, I would say has three main themes. And one is about, you know, challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Two is about the, the language that we use as leaders and, you know, the impact that that can have on organizational culture. And three is this sense of gratitude that you bring up. And that was a recurring theme in the messages I gave to the young men of our boy scout troop in my five years as a scout master, because, you know, it's hard and we tend as a society to default to the other way, right? If you scroll through your social media feed or you look at anything political, right, it's this relentless stream of negativity that just seems to keep getting worse and worse and worse. So I think, you know, even setting leadership aside just as human beings is so important because it just, it just changes the way we go through our days and it takes a little work.  Mitch: (05:07) And now, you know, it's a, it's a quality that I think is most valuable when, you know, you mentioned everybody kind of buys into it, right? So in, in terms of gratitude, how do you get people to stop with that negativity, take the step back. How do you cascade this thought process or this feeling, this emotion down throughout the entire organization? So it's much more of a positive culture and workplace for everybody.  Jim: (05:38) I think being a leader in that sense is a lot like being a parent in that we can, and we do say things and teach lessons and tell people things and hope that the, you know, it will sink in and all but much more than that. They're going to observe what we do and how we comport ourselves and the way that we respond to things. And so if we want to display a sense of gratitude, you know, if we want our employees to display a sense of gratitude, we have to start by doing that ourselves. And a lot of that I think comes in the sense in the way that we respond to things. I mean, how do we respond when things go wrong? Are we the unflappable leader, or do we fly into immediately, you know, end of the world panic mode. And, you know, obviously the former is the preferred choice. If you're leading a team.  Mitch: (06:25) And now I, I kind of, you know, flip flopped some of the conversation that we were gonna have here. But now that we understand how things kind of get across the organization, we have that buy-in once there is this positive culture and ideally the leader is setting the tone. What are the benefits of a workplace that embraces gratitude? What are, what, what does that look like from a team perspective?  Jim: (06:52) I think that if we're cultivating a positive environment and gratitude certainly is a big part of that, you know, and sort of what we've already talked about a little bit in terms of, you know, we've adapted as leaders and we are engaging our team members and we're being positive, and they know that a ton of bricks isn't gonna come down on their head with every little mistake they made. In other words, that they are trusted, right. Then what happens typically is they start to do the things we say we want our employees to do, right. They start to think outside the box and they start to, you know, quote unquote, act like owners of the company and think about the bigger picture beyond their own little checklist of things they do. And they stop running to you, the manager or the leader to cross every T and dot every I, because you know, what they're doing is covering their own behind.  Jim: (07:41) So, you know, so they won't get in trouble for doing something wrong. I think just a whole world of possibilities open up when we empower our team and gratitude is a part of that. And, you know, again, it partly is modeling that behavior. And part of it, it's sort of, you know, having that discussion with them. I mean, we've all had the employee or the, you know, Facebook friend or the LinkedIn connection who just likes to complain about everything all the time. I have one, you know, every time he goes to a Starbucks, he feels compelled to do a post about how slow they were or how terrible the employees, whether something like that. And, you know, if you feed yourself that string of negativity, it's just self perpetuating. And especially if you're a leader, I think you have to be especially careful about that.  Mitch: (08:21) That's a great point. And you know, earlier in the conversation, you mentioned the different components of your book, and we're really focusing in on, on that last piece that you mentioned here in gratitude, but I do want to get your perspective, and hear your thoughts on some of the other pieces of the book before we move forward. Would you mind just sharing the title of the book and a little bit about it with our listeners? So they have an idea of what it is that we're talking about here.  Jim: (08:47) Sure. Thank you. The book is called Leader by Accident: Lessons in Leadership, Loss, and Life that was published in October by Morgan James Publishing, and essentially the two parts of the story or the Genesis of the book, I guess, I very suddenly became scout master of our son's boy scout troop some years ago when the current scout master and his entire family were murdered by their oldest son, which was every bit as horrible as it sounds. And it was just something that we didn't know if the troop would be able to recover from. And in that moment of uncertainty, they turned to me who had been a boy scout for all of about two weeks, who really had no outdoor skills to speak of any scouting experience. Didn't have a position in the troop and also part one of the book is sort of that big step outta my comfort zone into what is in the best of times, a pretty demanding volunteer job.  Jim: (09:41) And clearly this was not the best of times, probably the bigger point though, is that how those experiences over my five years as scout master really fueled the second step outta my comfort zone into entrepreneurship. I'm a marketing consultant now and have been for not quite a decade, pretty close, but you know, something I never would have done had I not challenged myself with that first step into the scout master role and some of the leadership challenges that, that entailed and some of the honestly physical challenges that entailed and some of our, you know, high adventure camping trips and things like that.  Mitch: (10:15) Thank you for sharing that story. And, you know, just the way you presented the sequence of events, essentially, and what that means. You know, it, it just goes to show the value of leadership and having those skills, those, that innate ability to respond and adapt, in all different circumstances as we were talking about earlier. But I, you know, I do wanna wrap up this conversation and get into a little bit more of the language that we use as leaders that you were just, you know, getting to it in terms of where it lays in the book, the language we use as leaders, how is that different than maybe the language that we use in our, you know, regular workplace. And if we are aspiring leaders, what is it about the language that we use that we should work on in order to be more respected and, and understood as we advance through our careers?  Jim: (11:12) The first thing I would say, and I say this, whenever I talk about this in a, you know, a keynote setting is when we is this word leader, we don't necessarily mean the boss, right? And I don't care if you're running an organization with 200 people, or if you're the new salesperson who started last week, somebody somewhere in your life right now is looking to you for leadership, whether it's your child, your aging parent, your spouse, or significant other, you know, we're all, maybe not all the time, but we're all leaders at moments in our lives. And the part about the language really involves a few stories. And I'll tell the shortest version of the, the shortest one here, just to sort of give you an idea, but one of my Scouts as a junior in high school, we were talking and I was asking him if he started to think about college majors, and we talked a little bit about that, and he said, Mr. Rafferty, what do you think I should do? And I said, well, I don't know, what do you like to do? What interests you? And we talked a little more and I promptly forgot the conversation had ever happened, cuz it was just, you know, small talk a year and a half later when reached the rank of Eagle scout, he sent me a very nice handwritten thank you note. And in that note, he recalled that conversation that I had forgotten. And he said that was the first time in his life that anyone had ever asked him what he wanted to do with his own life. He was 15, maybe not quite 16 years old at that point. And that was a real eyeopener for me. And sort of a little lesson in that, especially when we're in a situation when someone is looking to us for leadership, for guidance, you know, what we think is a throwaway comment, small talk, you know, a joke, whatever can be interpreted in very different ways.  Jim: (12:47) And sometimes as in this case, that was a good thing. But other times it cannot be. And I think especially in our current, you know, with remote work and just technology in general, so much of our communication happens by typing, right? And it's very easy for the intent of what we're trying to communicate to get lost. Like somebody may understand what we want done, but our tone, our intent gets lost in the shuffle. And it's very easy to wind up with team members who have their noses at a joint. And when that happens, you're the last one to know.  Mitch: (13:19) Again, a great point and I completely agree. It makes things a little bit more challenging for sure. And yet there is just so much opportunity to develop these skills and be aware of your surroundings and the tone that you could be portraying, whether it's your intent or not. So the language that we use is certainly something that I think all of our listeners should consider. As you said, you never know who's looking to you for a piece of leadership. So and now just as my last question to wrap up our conversation, thank you for everything you've shared so far. I'm just curious if you can give us a little bit of insight into how you anticipate the role of a leader, whoever that may be evolving even more in the future. What are some of the other things, characteristics, traits, knowledge, or experiences that they should possess as our business environment continues to progress with this hybrid workplace now and everything else that we have to consider, who is the leader of the future, in your opinion,  Jim: (14:25) When I look back on those experiences with the scout troop and by the way, the scout troop not only survived, but thrived, not thanks to me, but thanks to a really good team of leaders. We had other people in place to handle sort of the scout skills stuff and all that. But I think the thing that really made it work, my piece of it anyway, probably two things. And one was that I was not afraid to admit what, I didn't know. The Scouts knew that I was inexperienced at a lot of things and that a lot of times when they were doing something for the first time out on a camping trip, so was I, and that's gave me a bit more empathy, empathy maybe than a typical leader in, in that situation. So, you know, number one for me would be, don't be afraid to admit what you don't know and to ask for help, even from the people you're leading.  Jim: (15:17) And number two, I think one of the other things we obviously had a great deal of healing to do as a troop. And I made it a point to really try to get to know the young men of the troop as well as I could and understood, understand what they did when they were not being boy Scouts. You know, I knew what sports they played or what instrument they played or how they spent their, you know, what their hobbies were and that kind of thing. And we celebrated their achievements outside of scouting as a group, you know, and I think that's where we're going in business leadership. And, you know, in some cases we're already there, but especially again, in this remote work environment where now we've gotta account for the fact that we are trying to homeschool our kids, you know, that we're maybe ready to come back to the office now, but we're not sure if we can afford the gas at the moment, you know, that kind of thing, that, that sort of understanding the whole picture of who your team member is and being responsive to it and being empathetic to it, I think really is the future and in some ways the present of leadership,  Speaker 4: (16:20) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Apr 25 2022
16 mins
Ep. 179: Sammy Courtright - Tech & Work-Life Balance during the Great Resignation
Contact Sammy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sammycourtright/Full Episode Transcript:Neha: (00:05) Welcome back for episode 179 of our podcast series. This is your host Neha Lagoo Ratnakar, and you're once again listening to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. Today, you're going to hear from Sammy Courtwright, the co-founder of Ten Spot. Ten Spot is a workforce engagement platform helping companies enhance their work from home capabilities. Sammy joins us to talk about how technology has impacted today's work environment, what it means for our work life balance and what the future of the workforce looks like based on current trends. Keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.   Mitch: (00:56) So right before we started recording here, we were talking a little bit about how things have changed over the last couple years, and to kick off our conversation. I'd like to first ask how has technology impacted work being done at work?   Sammy: (01:10) Yeah, Mitch, I mean, what a change we were faced two years ago, right? Where suddenly we were thrown into remote or distributed work and technology, thank goodness was able to make that transition moderately seamless. Right? Of course there was always that idea of having to figure out which technology we're going to use. Does it work? Does everyone know how to use it? Is it effective? Now we have to buy more licenses, but it's definitely made this working from home or hybrid work significantly more streamlined collaborative, but it's also made it really constant, right? I feel like you're always on, which is a good thing and a bad thing for some people. I think at the beginning of the pandemic, when things were a little bit slower Netflix and all of those other subscription services, weren't pumping out the content as quickly. You might just check another email.   Sammy: (02:03) You might respond or start working on a project. And while that was great, I think now we've realized that we went too far, perhaps in one direction of always being on. And I think now people are being a little bit more clear or understanding of creating better boundaries with technology. So when am I on, how do I set myself up for success? Am I balancing that a little bit more? So technology definitely impacted the work that we're able to do from anywhere, not necessarily from your home. But it comes with some pros and cons.   Mitch: (02:38) Absolutely. And I think anybody listening can relate. So, you know, you mentioned balance here and I want to get into that work life balance because it is so easy to work remotely and through the different tablets and laptops and phones and everything, that's at our fingertips. So what are some of the things that people can do to really just shut off both, you know, work and technology so that we can really, you know, make strides towards this work life balance?   Sammy: (03:06) Sure. So I have found that I'm paying far more attention to my screen time. At least Apple has this function. I'm uncertain about other models, where it tells you how much time you're spending on your screen. Similarly, apps like Google have taken a further kind of dive into the calendar settings and has allowed you to take a look at your calendar and understand when there is focus time when there is shutoff time, when there is even on my phone, I've set up sleep time where it knows that I'm gonna be winding down to go to sleep at a certain hour. So it starts going into, to kind of shut off mode. I don't really access social media at that time, or it lets me know that, Hey, you're in sleep mode. You might not wanna be checking, you know, Instagram right before you go to bed.   Sammy: (03:49) It makes you a lot more aware. I don't think that I even really had that visibility or was aware of how much time I was spending either on my computer tablet or phone, but now that Apple, at least, and many other applications are really starting to focus on how much time you are spending using technology. I think it's helped me create a better boundary of switching off or not always being on. I really think awareness is kind of the key to this. So for people that are asking that like Hey I'm uncertain, you know, what to do to get started. I always recommend take a look at your calendar, take a look at your habits and your day, and just start jotting down things that you're doing. How much time are you spending on that specific project? How much time are you spending in front of the computer?   Sammy: (04:33) Are you getting up to get that glass of water or do you wait until, you know, that specific task is done before you reward yourself with getting up and, you know, getting that glass of water, those things make a really big difference. And they even say those 10 to 15 seconds, 30 seconds breaks that you can take to, you know, get up and go refresh your water or whatever it might be. Grab a cup of coffee, really recharges your brain and allows you to be more creative. So I think for those that are looking, you know, to maybe just get started and want to shut off or create more boundaries, start documenting what you're doing and how you're using technology and start creating a little bit more limits. What do you wanna do with that time instead? Is it, you wanna read a book? You wanna meditate more, you wanna go for a walk, you want to spend more time with your kids. You wanna play with your dog. I think for those moments, and you can even put them into your calendar, block out those moments have been really effective and helps people at least shut off, from both work and technology to kind of maintain that healthier work life balance.   Mitch: (05:37) You know, I use focus time throughout the week, you know, on my calendar and other thing, turning off the phone and sleep mode, all that stuff. The whoop band that I have tells me when to go to bed. So I know all right, it's time to shut everything else down, leave it alone. So there is, there are so many options available to us. Really you just have to seek them out and take advantage of 'em. I think, because it's so helpful, at least in my personal experiences, you know, but that's on the personal side of things. And obviously everybody has gotten relatively accustomed to a different kind of work life balance. And as they adjust to everything you are mentioning, you know, they are seeking new things I think from work, right. And we're seeing a lot happening in the workforce today. So my next question for you is kind of taking it back to business a little bit, if you will. And from the employer's perspective, with the idea of work life balance in mind, how should these employers, how should these businesses really work to keep employees engaged and retain them? You know, like I said, with everything else going on today.   Sammy: (06:45) Yeah. I always think the first step is to acknowledge it. I think employers are now realizing that employees are not just employees anymore, that they're people with lives outside of work. And in reality, I know that this has always been the case, but anyone who has been on a zoom call in the last like 18 months now, we all know a lot more about their dogs, their cats, their kids, their partners, their parents. We know so much more about our colleagues and coworkers lives. I really think this blurred line of work and life encouraged employees to expect their companies to consider and acknowledge their whole selves and all of these roles that we play outside of work, whether that's parenthood or caring for an aging parent or pursuing a passion like playing in a band or taking a yoga teacher training class get an advanced degree, you know, whatever it might be.   Sammy: (07:43) I think that there's a lot more acknowledgement that there is more than just work Sammy showing up every day. I have all of these other roles and responsibilities that I play and employers have to acknowledge that and recognize that to keep employees engaged. I also really think like this idea or approach to like 360 degree wellness, mental, physical, social, flexibility with work hours. I think employers really need to start. And I, and I see a lot of companies moving this direction, but stop offering these blanket benefits or these one size fits all approach. I really think that employees today, no matter what their age is have come to desire, you know, a range of health and wellness benefits that are really robust and could greatly impact their lives. I think companies now are offering more of a marketplace approach or a stipend, so it can be used for whatever you deem to be wellness. And I think that kind of expands the availability of the service, the access to the service, and it's really customized to what the employees need at that time. And I think that's another really great way to keep employees engaged and retained at work.   Mitch: (09:01) You know, it's so true. I was actually just talking to somebody, a friend of mine started a new job and he was telling me about the different incentives that come with the new job and at the company, things like a barber shop in the office and somebody coming in once a week, you know, things that handling a stipend for dry cleaning. So you can, you know, keep up with your work attire when you have to come to the office. I called them practical incentives, right. Things that people do. And I think that's so helpful, but I know you have some more ideas in this space and, and, you know, there are fun classes and things that employers can do to keep their employees engaged, but if perks and remote work and you know, some of these other practical incentives aren't enough, what else can be done? Because I think that's another trend. You know, what else, or, you know, how much more can I get is kind of a theme. So what else can these employers do for their employees?   Sammy: (09:58) Sure. There's a couple of things I wanna hit on. I think training is in, you know, professional development is one of them also building a sense of community in the workplace, especially when employees are working remotely. I really think younger workers specifically, you know, Gen Z are relying on the workplace to provide them with opportunities for socialization. We recently ran a survey and we learned that 62% of gen Z workers are really enthusiastic about the positive impact virtual events have had on their company. So these virtual events could be anything from a company wide trivia night, a scavenger hunt, a team wide scavenger hunt, a cocktail crafting class. These really fun and unique events are opportunities that aren't focused on work, per se. Sure. This isn't like, you know, brainstorming session for the next project that you're working on, but it's opportunity for socialization it's opportunity for building that sense of community.   Sammy: (11:02) That is kind of outside of these perks and benefits that we were discussing previously that is really important to creating a cohesive and synced team. And I really think, you know, because of this work home transition, the number of individuals that have really relied on work, providing them those opportunities has really increased. So I'm gonna put heavy weight on building a sense of community. And then let's kind of touch on training because I mentioned that or professional development, there was this report in 2018 that just like blew my mind. 59% of managers had never had any training on how to manage people. Now this is 2018 when this data came out. Now imagine with the pandemic, you are potentially starting at a new company and you're promoted as a manager. And you're like, oh my gosh, this is so exciting. I'm gonna get a title change and potentially, you know, a salary increase and I'm responsible for people.   Sammy: (12:01) And that's, what an incredible accomplishment. Then you sit back and think, hold on, my whole team is remote. I haven't really managed distributed teams before. How do I connect with them? How do I build that sense of community? How do I make sure that they're getting, you know, feedback on career development and whatever else it might be. And that's a really big issue that managers are facing today, and it's not just managers professional development in general. So I really think that training professional development courses that can be done on individuals own time to really help advance their career might be that extra edge. If those perks and remote work aren't enough to really keep employees engaged at work,   Mitch: (12:45) It is amazing. And there's so much data out there now about who's changing jobs and the responsibilities like you just mentioned, and, you know, everything is exponentially increasing at this point. It's great opportunity. It leaves a lot of gaps as well. And I think you hit it. It's all about training and making sure that everybody on your team is up to speed with the needs and everything's aligned with the organization, you know, but I wanna talk a little bit more about that as people are transitioning from job to job and move up in their careers and such, there is something to be said for continuity. I think so as far as managers and manager training and keeping individuals in place or, or really qualified, what can organizations and, or, you know, managers of managers do to kind of combat this trend and really try to build this team up find this continuity and continue moving forward as a group, you know, as opposed to leaving and hiring new individuals.   Sammy: (13:44) Sure. Yeah. Look, I think there are good managers. There are great managers. And then unfortunately there are managers who make you wanna quit your job. And in the same survey that we ran, we learned that 46% of workers say that they currently have a manager or a team lead that makes them wanna quit their job. So for companies that are already kind of struggling with retention, this isn't fantastic news. And it's interesting to think about because you know, when employees are burned out, they turn to their managers for help. But when managers are burned out, who are they supposed to turn to? I really think training managers on how to be effective remote leaders is really important. And as I mentioned earlier, I think so many people have kind of been promoted throughout the pandemic or have stepped into new roles and responsibilities that they've never had before.   Sammy: (14:36) And they're expected to manage a team remotely. And there just hasn't been training available for that. And it's kind of bonkers. So I think focusing on this management training will really reduce attrition, not only for the individuals being managed by set manager, but also for the managers themselves. There's nothing worse than feeling like you are not set up for success. It's all well and good that you've been moved into this role or that you're managing individuals for the first time. And you think, wow, what a career opportunity. But then you look back and you're like, wait, I haven't been set up for success for this role. I don't actually know how to effectively lead these teams. I don't actually know what's required of me. I know that employees have all these expectations or my team has all of these expectations of me, but how do I execute on that? Who's going to help either mentor me or provide me with the resources so I can actually be successful in this role. So I think manager training will really combat this, these concerns and put managers in a fantastic position to really succeed and nail, you know, their position, whether they be remote hybrid in office, all of the above.   Mitch: (15:46) All right. So I wanna wrap up this conversation, but I do have somewhat of a loaded question for you. I know we were again, before we started recording, we were talking about it's, you know, it's time to be proactive. Let's start looking in the future. Let's not reflect so much on what's been happening in the past. So with that idea in mind, I want to get your thoughts on what the future of our workforce looks like. Because of all these trends, everything we've talked about. So for, but now let's take it into the future. What can we expect? What should people be doing? You know, please share your thoughts on, on what is to come for this workforce.   Sammy: (16:22) Great question. And these are just my thoughts based on trends that I've seen and conversations I've been having. I think we can all safely say that the option to be remote or fully remote will be the norm. I think that this is not going anywhere, but I am really intrigued by the freelance space. And this is either that you are a freelance worker or that you work for a company, but you potentially could work for multiple companies at once. I don't know about you Mitch, but I have several friends that are actually running a couple or three full-time jobs at once. And it's pretty incredible. I know it's already happening now, but I really think that this will become a common practice and a kind of less taboo right now. They're doing it, you know, moonlighting or under the radar.   Sammy: (17:10) But I think in the future, it might just be like, Hey, here's great talent. How could we attach this great talent to multiple projects across different companies and to kind of, you know, use them for a specific amount of time and they, you know, obviously get paid for their work, but then they can also get exposure to different companies, handle different projects or challenges. I think the freelance world will get really interesting very soon. Also I think I mentioned this earlier, but being really customized with the employee experience and that's from like hiring through to retiring. I really think AI is gonna play a major role in how you know, employees are going to shape their careers. I also think, you know, Gen Z, I talked about them earlier. I think they're gonna really have a significant impact on today's workplace. And you know, how we think about technology and company culture and world issues specifically also workplace issues like discrimination and diversity, equity, and inclusion, how companies deal with a lot of these workplace and pressing social and political issues. I also think, you know, we might, we talked about this earlier. Maybe there'll be a toe dipped in the four day work week or something a little bit more flexible. The idea that you get work done when you work best. And you know, companies will kind of begin to ebb and flow with that.   Speaker 4: (18:34) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Apr 18 2022
18 mins
Ep. 178: Will Peng - Achieve Greater Financial Stability
Contact Will: https://www.linkedin.com/in/williampeng/ Full Episode Transcript:Neha: (00:05) Welcome back for another episode of Count Me In. I'm your host Neha Lagoo Ratnakar. And this is IMA's podcast talking about all things that affect the accounting and finance world. Our featured guest for today is the CEO and co-founder at Northstar, Will Peng. Will co-founded Northstar, a financial wellness and benefits platform because of his inspiration by the positive change FinTech can have on people's lives. He set out to solve the inequality of our financial guidance and shares his insights with us as he discusses the inclusive and equitable support employees can receive from FinTech related apps and products. To hear more about how FinTech can improve financial stability, keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.   Mitch: (01:02) So Will, I know your history, right? That kind of led you into this FinTech space and a lot of what you do is about financial guidance. So what I would like to first start off our conversation with is asking you how will emerging FinTech really help solve some of these financial problems that a lot of individuals are facing today?   Will: (01:23) Yeah, this, this is a really interesting question because of my background. I started my career as a product designer. So thinking about the ways that behavioral psychology influences or limits people from making change with their finances, but also my time as a venture capitalist, investing in startups, a lot of FinTech startups seeing the new technology that enables us to solve a lot of these classic problems I've been around for, for a long time. And first and foremost, I think what's most exciting that technology can actually influence personal finances is the idea of financial accessibility. So who has access to financial advisors, financial best practices and for the longest time, financial advice has been mostly limited to people who already have money, people who are wealthy already. And if you look at this from first principles, the underlying reason is that the ways in which we deliver financial advice, and this is pretty broad definition, right?   Will: (02:29) Financial advice can be financial planning. It can be tax advice. It could be investment advice. The ways that we have delivered this advice have primarily been a hundred percent human driven. And when advice is human driven, you're limited kind of by the number of hours in the day, you can do the math pretty simply you have maybe a 40 hour work week. And if you're a financial planner, you have 60 to 90 minute sessions, and pretty quickly you realize that you need to charge a certain floor for your hourly rate. If you're a fee only financial advisor, and then you also see new business models around non fee only advisors who take commissions who referral fees and asset management fees. And that's a set for topic that we can talk about.   Will: (03:24) But I'm generally a proponent of fee only models because it most closely aligns the advisor with the client. But so, so if you think about financial accessibility from that perspective it's really exciting to think about the ways that technology can more scalably deliver advice both in the creation of the plans, as well as the delivery of the plans. And once you do that, you actually lower the floor of what you need to charge in order to stay in business. And so you kind of see this in, for example, the robo advisor world low cost index funds have been around for a while. But the emergence of robo advisors has been a really interesting development because now anybody can connect, get access to low cost index funds with a great user experience and, and invest with, with low minimums and this all came about because of technology. And so that market is relatively mature now I dunno if you saw recently that UBS acquired wealth front so really interesting thing about not only that specific vertical, but across all different verticals, what are the ways in which technology is making personal finances more accessible?   Mitch: (04:43) Yeah, it's really interesting because, you know, as we talk about making things more accessible and, you know, you mentioned a lot of the opportunities presented by technology for private finance and, you know, obviously many of our listeners, more the corporate finance, but still technology enabling a little bit more foresight and, and, you know, more data available, another theme in line with technology and kind of the profession. And also what you're doing here is making some of these resources essentially more inclusive and equitable, right? So you talked a little bit about kind of lowering that floor, but far as employees, you know, specifically in the workforce, how is this you know, equitable and inclusive relate to technology?   Will: (05:31) Yeah. So well, this is I'm glad you asked this question because this is a big part of what we do here at NorthStar. And we have this saying that financial wellness starts at work, and it's this fundamental idea that especially in the US, so much of our not only financial lives, but also our whole lives center around work. And what I mean by that is that work is the primary source of wealth creation for the majority of people. You get your salary, your retirement accounts, but you also get your health insurance plans through work. This whole idea of employer sponsored plans and a whole set of perks. If you work at a tech company, for example, you get equity compensation, and that's oftentimes really difficult to understand. So there's an education gap not only for equity, but just for personal finances in general.   Will: (06:18) And if you look at it from a macro perspective, we've really shifted away from defined benefit pension plans where my father still has a pension plan and so hopefully he can retire soon and he'll get a kind of predefined payout, but we you've moved into a world of defined contribution plans like 401k plans and HSAs and FSAs and the variety of things that you'd get from your employer have increased. Whereas your total compensation package was relatively simple in the past. Now it's really complicated. And our education system around finances and the support systems through to help people make the best decisions, best financial decisions have not caught up. And it's an unreasonable expectation that employees individuals know how to choose the right retirement plan or figure out how much you should put into your retirement plan each month, or how to use an HSA or how what's the best health insurance plan for me.   Will: (07:27) I think the what's been really interesting to see the rhetoric around policy has been around the idea of choice where if you remember from the healthcare reform debates there is this idea of choice and it's true that the HSAs are incredibly powerful. They have what's called triple tax savings that most people don't know about. But it requires back to the point I made earlier about behavioral psychology, because it is so complex. Most people don't utilize them. And so even though it's a powerful option, most people don't use it, which means that the choice is a double-edged sword. So you need to, you need to pair choice with education and advice on how to best utilize these new tools. So I think there's a really interesting responsibility that employers have today to not only give people the tools, but also the advice to make those best decisions for themselves.   Mitch: (08:34) And let's, you know, continue on this topic and the conversation you have going here as far as, you know, the education and working towards change, how does this technology ultimately work towards changing financial stability across the country? I know you mentioned, you know, really the United States being, you know, one main focus area, but whether it's domestically or globally, you know, how does this work towards more stability across you know, all individuals?   Will: (09:05) Yeah. So if you look at the statistics around kind of where Americans personal finances are you find that doing nothing is doing something and whether it be around savings rates or retirement contribution rates or the amount of debt that people are in. The reality is that if you don't provide employees with education, they just most of the time do nothing. So this is because is if you face, if somebody's faced with a ton of different choices, complex choices, and this is my personal story, actually, when I graduated from college was I had a ton of student debt. I had a retirement plan. I had equity through work. I had to choose health insurance. I needed to save for the first time all while living in New York City. And it was just so overwhelming. And as an immigrant, I just didn't have anybody to turn to either my parents didn't know what to do.   Will: (10:05) So I just did nothing. And I was automatically enrolled in a 30 year payment plan on my student loans, which was designed to squeeze as much interest out of me as possible. Didn't really save that much, didn't enroll in my 401k plan. And so the reality is that that there's this default state where if you don't do anything, you're actually making a decision that's not in your own best interests. So it's, it's really important to provide not only the education around what these different tools are, but also giving them access to financial advisors, as well as new kind of FinTech apps to kind of break through that behavioral psychology of not doing anything with your personal finances.   Mitch: (10:53) It's interesting because I was in a very similar situation coming outta school, not out a whole lot of guidance. It's just, here's the real world and figure it out. So it took a while until I actually did receive some education from, you know, individuals at work and, you know, some guidance as far as what I should be doing. And especially year over year as things change financially. So I imagine, you know, technology you mentioned some apps certainly probably accelerate the learning curve, I would assume, right. Enabling individuals to kind of learn and, and see some, you know, different benefits and such, you know, it is so mainstream at this point, but I would like to get your opinion on that learning curve and whether it's from the employers or the individuals educating themselves, how does FinTech and the technology relating to personal finance and different guidance like this? How does that look into the future? What do you expect as far as the gaps in financial stability across the country and, and whatever else, what can we expect in the future coming up from this space?   Will: (12:01) Yeah, there are a few really interesting trends here. I think underlying all of it is the emergence of new FinTech infrastructure. So infrastructure around consolidation of personal financial data across different institutions. So previously you're kind of locked in to one bank that you decide to bank with. And it's hard to get information from another bank, if you use one bank for your checking and saving then another one for investments. So consolidation of personal financial information, and ultimately with the goal that you can actually own your own financial information is really interesting to think about. And almost being able to use different point solutions across institutions as almost like a commodity. So I think that's super interesting and enables much more interesting FinTech apps. And the next step from that is the ability to actually take actions on your advice and kind of the two primary ways to do it.   Will: (13:06) The types of actions are moving money and opening and closing accounts. And we've talked about the importance and difficulty around behavioral psychology, of personal finances. It's like oftentimes eating, eating your vegetables, or it's really, it's really difficult for people to understand long term impact with their short work term decision making. So by making it as easy as possible to turn that advice into action, you can actually move money between bank accounts, if you have your checking at Bank of America, but your savings account is at Ally Bank you should be able to move money based on a certain schedule or intelligently based on how much you have in your checking account. you should be able to sweep that into different accounts automatically. So this idea of automating your finances is really interesting to think about, to pay off your loans, pay your bills, put money into an investment account.   Will: (14:12) That's a really exciting vision to think about. And the other is being able to open and close bank accounts or different products. So if your financial advisor recommends that you refinance your student debt and they give you a recommendation or a few different recommendations, it'll be amazing to be able to refinance that debt in a very seamless way instead of having to go and Google it and look up, which one's the best one and then file fill out the application. And another example of this is really exciting is what does the intersection of financial planning tax and investments look like? It never made sense to me why these three types of advice are kind of separate. You go find a CFP and who's helping with you with your financial plan, but then they say, okay, like, there's some tax question that you have related to equity compensation, but I'm not your tax advisor, go talk to your tax advisor.   Will: (15:11) And maybe I don't have one. And even if I did have one, how do you have this CFP and the CPA communicate so that they're they have a context from what I'm working on with them. And maybe I have a question about my employee health plans. Well, like my, my CFP doesn't have that information. So how do you, how do you pull that data in? So it's, it's the intersection of advice, but also data that's really interesting. And I think that's a big part of kind of where we're going as well, in addition to where the, where the industry is going to almost have, like, if you're familiar with the term, like the idea of a family office, family office is like the, the pinnacle of financial advice for wealthy people. And back to how we started this conversation, the reason why people don't have access to that is because it's a lot of manual work. And so of course, if you're a family office, you'll go after the most wealthy individuals and manage your assets, but how do you take the fundamental idea of combining all these different types of advice and make it available to everyone? I think that's a really exciting vision to, and future world to think about.   Mitch: (16:23) It's very interesting and it makes you think, you know, how have we come this far without solutions like that in place, but it's you know, great topic. I do have one last question, if I can before we wrap up here, you know, you were talking earlier about the employer's role in some education and, you know, some of the individual's role in personal growth, and just curious, based on, you know, today's workforce really, and, you know, we've all heard the great resignation and the freedom of choice and different options that employees are seeking for one reason or another. So all these different topics, it got me thinking, you know, how does this really, this idea of FinTech solving financial inequity really ultimately equate to businesses, being able to keep some of their top talent? Is there any correlation between an individual's personal finances and some of the issues they're facing with, you know, employers keeping some of these individuals in their workforce?   Will: (17:26) Sure. Yeah. It's a really great question and something that we're at the center of, and I'll caveat with everything that I say with the fact that the reasons that people stay at a company encompass more than just personal finances, you need to create a healthy culture, rewarding workplace, respectful to each other. Those are all requirements as well, but from a financial perspective, it's really interesting to think about the ways that people oftentimes look for a new job because they're not paid well enough. Or maybe they don't understand all of the range of benefits that they receive that have, maybe they're not, they don't have a fungible cash value, but they do have a significant impact on my livelihood and my ability to achieve my financial goals. So what we found is that by offering something like NorthStar that it's not just about having a call center of coaches is being able to work one-on-one with an advisor who understand let's take like specific example.   Will: (18:30) If somebody's looking to start a family, they'll go to their financial advisor who understands all their, their different needs, but also all the different benefits that the employer offers. So it's not just about setting a new budget or figuring out how much I need to save, but it's also about understanding that maybe you get fertility benefits and infertility benefits through work, or maybe you're on a high deductible health insurance plan. And you need to change to one that's a better support for parents and, and childbirth. So it's this really holistic approach to financial wellness that employers are really at the center of. And so we want to help people shift away from a world where they see a higher salary as the only way to achieve their financial goals and kind of providing a more holistic set of support beyond just a higher salary. So I think there's a really interesting shift that we're seeing with many employers to, to think about their or total rewards or compensation and benefits packages in this way, rather than just saying like, Hey, here's the salary, here's your retirement plans and health plans. And calling it a day,   Speaker 4: (19:41) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Apr 11 2022
20 mins
Ep. 177: Dr. Anton Lewis - DE&I in Accounting
Contact Dr. Lewis: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anton-lewis-11949311/ Full Transcript:Mitch: (00:05) Welcome back to Count Me In. IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I'm your host, Mitch Roshong, and you are listening to episode number 177 of our series. Today's conversation features Dr. Anton Lewis, an associate professor of accounting at Valparaiso University, whose research investigates the experience of black accountants in the profession and promotes equitable racial representation. In his conversation with my co-host Adam, Dr. Lewis talks about DE&I in accounting, common flaws relating to diversity equity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as what can be done and what he is already doing to advance and improve equitable representation across the industry. Keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.   Adam: (00:59) So Anton, historically conversation about race and the workplace, particularly within accounting simply have not happened. Now, there have been great achievements in DE&I, but there's still much room for improvement in our industry. Why do you think that is?   Anton: (01:16) Adam, If I had to really give you an answer to that, I actually think it is because we in society and in particular US society have a great deal of problems talking about the subject of race and racial representation. It's almost a taboo subject in many ways. So the problem is we know we have poor representation currently. We know we've historically had poor representation, but nobody really wants to talk about why that is because race and racism are sticky, unpleasant subjects to talk about. And part of what seems to be my life's cause now is a core trying to provoke a conversation around this area, which is not polarizing, which is almost impossible to do by definition. But to my mind, if we can't have a conversation about race, racism, why we have poor black representation in our accounting profession and have had historically, and, you know, if we can't have this conversation and it be at two polar opposite ends to this, but yet still respect each other, each one another's views, we will not actually significantly change the situation. We will not deal with this problem effectively. And to my mind, that has kind of been the status quo for quite some time.   Adam: (02:58) Yeah, that makes sense. I think I've seen that as well, but as we specifically like focus in on accounting, as you kind of did there at the end, you are often the only person of color in a predominantly white workplace day in and day out, you know, how have you handled that and what have you done to advance the way that is perceived or how you feel about it?   Anton: (03:18) It's tricky, isn't it? There are those critical theorists, critical race theorists among others who talk about this environmental microaggression that occurs being the only black person in an accounting organization or any other organization that when you step foot in the building of which you work and you are one of the three people out of 500 that work there without anybody saying anything without anybody saying you don't belong, you feel it in the very walls of the institution you're in, and it can be a quite effective way of pushing those of difference out of the doors in terms of how one deals with that. It's difficult. the entire reason why I look at the area of race and racism and where I'm originally from, from Britain as you may hear in my accent when I was a jobing accountant, so to speak, that would happen to me all the time.   Anton: (04:25) And it's the reason that I began to look at this subject topic, cause I always wanted to know, well, why am I the only one there? And as I was experiencing this, I really wanted to have other people of color, other black people, other black professionals, ironically, to talk about this, to say, I'm not going mad. Am I, are you having this feeling as well? And the truth of the matter if they just weren't there and it becomes a circular problem, right? What am I doing to try to change this? Because I'm an accounting professor. One of the things I try to do is encourage now I'm here in the United States, as many African Americans as many black accountants as I can into profession with more numbers, it kind of gets rid of that feeling of being alone. But unfortunately it's still a very difficult process.   Anton: (05:17) Another thing that I've tried to do is write more publicly in things like the CPA journal. I've tried to increase my social media presence. I've tried to reach out with my own podcast, Counting Black and White Beans as an idea to be able to be used as a resource to allow those black accountants who feel isolated, who are feeling a little bit lost, let them know that this is not unusual, that this is actually quite common, whether it's in the United Kingdom or the United States, and for them to have a feeling of kinship, of a kindred kind of effect for one of a better word kind of saying you're in, we're in this together. And so I'm afraid to say, Adam, if you're looking for an absolute definite answer as to how does one deal with the isolation often of being one of the few black people within an accounting environment, I can't give you any firm answers to that. I suspect it's as difficult to deal with today. As I found it decades ago,   Adam: (06:27) I'd imagine it is, it's not easy being underrepresented in any profession. But for the black accountant, there has to be various stereotypes that are there tales. Can you explain how or why these stereotypes exist and what impact that misinformation has?   Anton: (06:42) Yeah. And again, these stereotypes exist in our profession and other professions as well. Because we, in my opinion, and many others live in a racialized environment, you know, we, our racialized views of those who are different from ourselves, don't stop at the doors of the organizations that we work in. Some of the traditional stereotypes that black accountants often have to deal with that I've found in my research and many other's is one would be of being angry. If you are a black male accountant, and I should be clear here, there are different stereotypes often for black women accountants and black male accountants. So for black male accountants, anger is often an issue. So, you know, if one is out on an audit and you find something has come up and you're in the middle of a meeting with your team to try to address this issue and tempers become a little bit frayed.   Anton: (07:54) If you are the black accountant, you understand clearly that you cannot be passionate like your white colleagues, because that is seen as being angry and unprofessional and unbecoming, that latitude is not afforded to you. And of course it makes it difficult in terms of impression management. Once we come around and look at performance evaluations and it may come up that you are unprofessional, angry, you scare inverted clients. On the polar opposite, perhaps would be the experience that many black women professionals have of being seen as the Sapphire, this steely hard unemotional unempathetic professional that is cold sometimes also can be angry in that negative way. But the idea here is that she is not a team player. She is overbearing she's quintessentially, anti feminine or unfeminine, if you like in this setting and be it with just these two examples of stereotypes that you mentioned that are often prevalent to the black accounting or black professional experience, whether it's being too angry, if you are a black male accountant or being positioned as Sapphire as a black woman accountant, both positionalities for wont of better word, mean that you are othered and you are positioned outside the professional, the remit of being seen as completely professional.   Anton: (09:34) What I mean by of that is you're always on the outside, looking in, you can never truly embody that authentic accountant, that trusted accountant, and that's actually quite vital for the work that we do.   Adam: (09:48) Definitely. And, those, just those two examples that you used are not isolated to just accountants. I've seen those in any other profession as well. Just how people view folks of color in that way. And that kind of brings us in our conversation. I wanted to circle back to something you mentioned earlier was microaggressions. You know, we often hear that term, but I'm not sure everyone truly understands what that means. And to what extent they can have an effect on people in the workplace. So maybe you can share your thoughts on that with us.   Anton: (10:22) Yes. microaggressions, one of these many terms that's kind of banded around, but people don't give you a concise definition of really what they are. Essentially, microaggressions are racialized. Racial, like aggressions are, are flights often verbal, sometimes environmental, as I've highlighted that say that you are not welcome, you are not wanted, you are othered to give you the best example of what a microaggression would be like. Imagine Adam, that you went into your account workplace, and as you sat down, had your coffee opened up one of the letters, one of the many letters that you had, you've got a paper cut. Now we've all experienced paper cuts, right? Sharp, painful, awful annoying. It's not going to kill you, right? You're not gonna bleed to death, so to speak, but it's annoying. But imagine if you had 50 paper cuts a day, every day that you went into your workplace day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, eventually you get almost a part of you dies by a thousand paper cuts.   Anton: (11:38) If you like, at least that professional part, that professional self, and it can be incredibly harmful to one's psychological makeup. It can be incredibly harmful to one's ability to function in the workplace. It is continual and unremitting othering. If you like, and it's a genuine problematic, it can be micro thoughts as we might term them where, and forgive me on some of my definitions here where we might think that we are not welcome in the workplace because essentially we don't belong. I.E., black people don't belong in accounting. That might be inferred in a very subtle kind of way. It may be as I once witnessed with not so much black accountant in Britain, but south Asian Muslim accountant back in the United Kingdom where I had interviewed a respondent and he cited that he was offered bacon sandwiches regularly.   Anton: (12:50) And if you are of Muslim heritage, that you cannot do that. And it was kind of known. It's not a direct physical attack, but it's incredibly deeply offensive. And it's these kind of actions that cumulative, that relate to something term battle fatigue, where it just becomes too much, you become depressed. There are physiological effects that can happen, including extraordinarily high stress levels which can lead to high blood pressure, et cetera, et cetera. And you know, when we're talking about these microaggressions as well, and, you know, we should not forget about this concept that you've alluded to Adam about intersectionality. So some of this, again, speaks to not just being a black person in that environment, but whether you are a black woman in this environment and that gendered piece should this black woman go into the workplace and her hair is for example, now braided, it is seen as unprofessional.   Anton: (14:00) And in that unprofessional environment, you may not be recognized as working there. There have been reports of this. it may, you may have the typical side eye. People may not want you in front of the clients because you don't look professional enough. As women will understand if one's hemline on any given day where when a skirt is, is worn, is too short, one gets judged upon this, this idea that there is a controlling factor in femininity in general, but specifically on certain aspects of black femininity. And when we're talking about hairstyles, the same thing then crosses over equally to African American men who may decide to wear their hair in dreadlocks. And that, again, positions them as being unprofessional. Although to be fair, there should be a right for people to hold their own style, their own way of being their department that is actually true to their own culture. And that actually speaks to something else, which is quite interesting. If we see these variances in what is acceptable and not acceptable, then the environment that we work in, Adam, within accounting has a set of unwritten rules. These rules are about what is professional and what is considered professional is what is considered both pale and male. And that's really important because if you are not male and you're not pale and arguably middle class, then you are always going to swim against the tide of your success in that environment.   Adam: (15:36) When you don't look like that, typical professional, like you were just talking about it others you, right. How can we make steps to go forward to change that perception of what a professional looks like? It seems like a broader conversation and something you can't just flip the switch and say, this is how you do it, but what steps can we take to changing that perception of what a professional person looks like? No matter what the color of their skin is.   Anton: (16:04) That is a really difficult question, Adam. I always say the simplest questions are the most difficult ones to answer. And this is true here for us not to other, we must reticulate truthfully what we consider an accounting professional to be. And if we're honest, think about how we, how we term accountants. When we joke about them, we call them bean counters. Right? If you imagine in your mind's eye, Adam, what a bean counter is. I would say bean counter to me is possibly a middle aged white man, possibly be speckled. Right? Okay. Gray hair with a calculator, furiously tapping away, possibly doing some taxes. Yeah. And this is important because that mental image that I have is to me, the authentic accountant, that is the accountant that I trust with my money. I don't want an interesting accountant.   Anton: (17:09) Somebody who looks like they go and party or looking after my money, but all jesting and joking side, if you are not that archetype of an accountant, then you must be something else you must be other than what I expect. And that othering piece has to be removed. Because even though I talk about this othering of black male and female accountants, we must have also talk about the othering of our Latinx community, the othering of our LGBTQ+ community, the othering of women in general those who are less able bodied than ourselves in terms of othering, that othering piece is a tricky thing to deal with. That's what we've really got to co overcome. And so, for example, even how we approach dealing with this othering concept must be well thought out. So if we somehow magically manage not to other black women and black male accountants, are we leaving our Latinx brothers and sisters out?   Anton: (18:19) Are we leaving our LGBTQ plus brothers and sisters out? Are we leaving those colleagues who are less able bodied out? Are we leaving other stigmatized groups out? If we are going to do this, we must. The analogy I like to use here, Adam is we must raise all ships. We must have a tide of equity and equality if you like that raises all ships at the same time, which is why I always force through this idea of intersectionality. When we look at dealing with this devilishly tricky concept of othering, and I'll be perfectly truthful here, Adam you are asking me for solutions that I don't have. I don't know how to do that, Adam. I really don't know how we do that. I only know I think one thing that as we deal with this sticky problem of othering, we must do it together. We must everybody, everybody must join in this conversation, which is why I advocate for the idea of conversation, of dialogue, of not being fearful. Yeah. That stops us dead in our tracks. When we can't talk about this issue of othering and say to ourselves, well, let's try this. Let's try that. Let's try this in a manner that says we work together and not work against one another. If that helps.   Adam: (19:44) It does, it really does. And I think the idea of conversation is a great way to start dialogue. People need to talk in not attack or condemn or assume, but actually just have that conversation cuz until you have the conversations and start the dialogue, sometimes your eyes aren't open until you start talking   Anton: (20:04) Without a shadow of a doubt, Adam, you know, and again, it would seem that we've lost the art to talk and to talk in a manner that does not malign the person we're talking to that doesn't reduce the the other person's sense of, of self worth or being. We really have to have great. We need to do better in that. You know, we are, unfortunately, and it's not just the United States here in my homeland, the United Kingdom, it's just as bad and in our areas across Europe as well. And in other places, we are entrenched in this, position of polarization, of partisanship. It's getting us nowhere. And certainly it, when we do that, we remove the tools of which to deal with very difficult problems. And that in of itself is something we're going to have to deal with.   Anton: (20:59) But actually as a matter of point Adam, I actually think our profession in accounting is really well suited in what we do to begin to make inroads to that very point. Why would I say that? In accounting, we are all about teamwork. We are all about dealing with difficult intractable problems that seemingly often don't seem to have a solution, but we come up with them all the time. And not only that we are in the business of relaying that information out there. I actually believe that accountants in this area, if we really set our mind to it with our skill sets, we can actually do something quite special, but we can't do it. If we can't talk about it, we can't do it. If we are polarized and partisan and we can't do it if we don't admit where we are and what we need to do about it, going forward about this racialized space within accounting,   Speaker 4: (21:59) This has been Count Me In IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Apr 4 2022
22 mins
Ep. 176: Paul Ruppert - Creating Strategic Partnerships
Contact Paul Ruppert: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulruppertintl/ Full Transcript:Adam: (00:05) Hey everyone. Thank you for coming back to listen to another episode of Count Me In, I am your host Adam Larson, and this is episode 176 of our series. As we hold conversations about various topics impacting the accounting and finance world, one of the underlying themes across most is strategy. In this episode, you'll hear from Paul Ruppert, an ambidextrous executive with deep experience in startups, as well as global fortune 100 enterprises who shares as knowledge and expertise on strategic partnerships. Keep listening to hear more about how the finance team can best support large strategic initiatives for the organization.  Mitch: (00:50) So as we get through today's conversation, we're gonna look at some concepts around strategy, strategic partnerships, but I think it's first important to kick off what are some of the biggest considerations or are challenges that many are facing in today's business landscape?  Paul: (01:06) I think, you know, many people get into business thinking that there's some linearity from a plus B plus C equals D equation, but in reality, it's all about adaptability and change. And change is not only the change that you experience when you start facing various types of problems and challenges and friction points, but also your ability to manifest change, create that change and live through that change. I've been involved in businesses on a global basis and how I approach the business in the US was very different than I was approaching the business when I was in Hong Kong or in Europe. And that adaptability, that agility as it's often described, you know, in technology is really the the watch word more than anything else, in my view. You know, there's, as I mentioned earlier, earlier before our call, I don't believe in a silver bullet solution.  Mitch: (02:13) And as we talk about adaptability, agility, you know, the bottom line is we are looking to advance the business, right, advance the function and adapt to modern advancements. And I think you just kind of mentioned briefly technology here, but without having a crystal ball and being able to see into the future perfectly, what does the future of business really look like? And, you know, as we continue to adapt and be agile, what are we really preparing for? What is the future of the business landscape look like?  Paul: (02:45) Well, you know, that's a big, big question in the context of where is everything going. If you just look at our immediate past in past history, you know, three years ago, I'm involved in the text messaging business and it's been around, it's how, you know, enterprises communicate and connect with end consumers. And we live through it on a day to day basis. When you get tested for what's called a one time password, you know, you just proving that you are who you are. And the business let's say three plus years ago was moving steadily along. And let's say let's call grocery store rates, meaning about three to 5% growth rate. This is a fairly established industry. You know, it's roughly about $200 billion of business globally. It's quite large, but people don't really experience on a day to day basis relative to cost and effect if you will, but they still utilize it.  Paul: (03:47) And since the pandemic, because of the dynamics of how we behave as human beings and being working from home environments and the fact that we are now utilizing zoom and video, et cetera, the reality is that the messaging business has grown to about 30% CAGR for the next three years is what the expectation is. And I am of the belief that once human beings experience something much more convenient for them, they usually don't turn backwards and want to do something less convenient. Okay. So in all of that context, that's kind of the dynamics of where we are going, what it looks like and the over the horizon perspective, the crystal ball, as you characterized it is that your expectations often may be unexpected. Things may not go as you think they are going. And there's lots of converging factors, you know, digitalization prior to COVID, the growth of it, the speed of it, the means in which many business were able to quickly and with great agility pivot to new types of initiatives, you know, I can talk about call centers that were stripped down from being on premise in the course of four to five days and redistributed to the the call center rep's homes, because everybody shifted, you know, we couldn't be in large groups any longer, it was just too unsafe.  Mitch: (05:22) Now a lot of our listeners are in, you know, the business of opportunity recognition. And I know it's very difficult and maybe unexpected as some of these you know, evolutions arise. You know, we first spoke, I know you mentioned something along the lines of you know, the business landscape reaching 6G. So with some of this uncertainty but so much opportunity, what can our listeners really take away you know, from the idea or what should they be doing really to maybe open their eyes a little bit and see what this opportunity means for their individual businesses,  Paul: (06:03) Right. Yeah. You know, we all watch well, many of us watch professional football, the NFL on weekends, and, you know, the number of mobile phone companies like principally T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon all talking about 5G. And then if you were to turn to your spouse or friend that you're watching the game with and ask the question, so why is 5G better than 4G outside of the reach? You know the reality there is that what we're doing right now is probably gonna be the, one of the big manifestations of 5G value, which is video and speed and processing. And so as we then move to 6G, then it becomes much more engaged on such things as what's called sentiment and intent. So you might be reaching out to, you know, let's say your mobile phone provider, because you've got an issue with your iPhone or something along those lines and that inbound call or inbound message or whatever it might be that platform that you're utilizing to connect with your provider, they already have a sense of what your intent is.  Paul: (07:17) Why are you calling, you know, and that's, you know, consumer data products and platforms that are looking at combining your personal behavior, as well as the fact that you might have an iPhone eight. And, you know, the lifespan of that iPhone eight is probably five years past it's optimal performance. And so soon as they start talking to you, whether or human being, or not, whether it's a chatbot that may come into the dialogue as to, would you like to upgrade your phone? We see that it's six, seven years old, something along those lines, that's the kind of stuff that'll be playing out, which is a little spooky.  Mitch: (07:59) It is, it definitely is, but everybody's looking for the answers as fast as possible. Right. So if that means getting them to the solution sooner, I think we're just going to adapt and take that luxury eventually. So with that in mind, you know, I think, like I said, going back to opportunity recognition, this is an opportunity for individuals to really expand their horizon, right. And it's an opportunity to possibly, you know, take their business or their function and look to build some strategic partnerships with others who are able to bring those opportunities to us. So when it comes to strategic partnerships, what are some of the things that individuals should really pursue or make sure that they have you know, for both sides, I suppose to make sure that this endeavor is worthwhile, you know, with technology, there is so much risk and uncertainty but developing strategic partnerships, what are some of the keys to consider there?  Paul: (08:59) Yeah. First and foremost is to be open-minded, don't be close-minded relative to what you're looking at because even potentially partnering with your competitor may have value I'm in a business that is cooperative and competitive at the same time. And you can't do the business without having that type of relationship that you may be competitive hammer and tongs in the marketplace, but technologically, both of you need each other to be able to provide the solution to the broad marketplace. So open mind open-mindedness flexibility. I used to, well, I still use the term agility and humility in the context of you're not walking in saying, this is what I think I want. And instead, you're thinking about where are the opportunities, as you mentioned, the opportunity recognition, the opportunity subsets, and then it's as much about what's your strategy in terms of partnerships, are you looking to influence influencers that are gonna be making buying decisions?  Paul: (10:06) That's a different initiative than trying to figure out I was once in a project where myself and my technical lead in a company, we were in a hotel bar in Tokyo, and this was in 2012. And I said, you know, this whole thing about cybersecurity, we gotta figure out how to be able to provide a solution to identify potential infringements on mobile networks and text messaging. Could we do that? He was like, well, yeah, you know, and he brought, broke it down relative to the analytical functionality, but we didn't know in the platforms. So we then went hunting for who could provide that type of platform, that functionality, and we found them. And so then we reached out to 'em and said, this is what we do, you know, and this is what you guys do. We want to be able to figure out how we might be able to work together. And within nine months, that was a live trial with, at and T. And within two years, we were generating about $16 million in revenues, which was roughly about 8% of the total revenues of the business unit at that stage.  Mitch: (11:16) And, you know, strategic partnerships, something for many of our listeners, accounting and finance particularly internally we address this as business partnering, right? Being able to raise awareness you know, identify some risks, not necessarily give all the answers that everybody wants to hear, but look at it strategically. so before we get to the accounting side of things, just from this risk and strategy, you know, concept and, you know, talking about foresight, looking to see that we need to do something, maybe it is working with a competitor or somebody that you've never worked with before an industry you've never dealt with before, with all this technology evolving now, how do you ensure that whatever partnership you're proposing, you know, when you bring it to the table and you have these internal discussions, how do you ensure that, you know, you get that buy-in and you, you talked about influencing, but how do you take it to the next step where you can actually see the results that you ended up seeing?  Paul: (12:14) Well there's no guarantee to any of this, you know, you may be starting off on your journey with the objective of, yeah. We found this company and they do this type of process, and let's go talk to 'em and you may find that they're not very likable or they're not very cooperative, or they're not interested in having that kind of dialogue because they think that you might be stealing their IP or whatever it is. So it's as much about, oh, you know, coming with an open hand in an open mind and kind of laying out here's the opportunity. I was once in an acquisition in a company that we got approached by a visionary, and he said you know, this text messaging stuff, this was in 2006, mind you almost 15, 16 years ago, this text messaging stuff would be great in a customer relationship management software capability, which is what we do, you know, and those of us who were in the transport side messaging side, we looked at each other and thought, who would've ever thought, you know, we should have thought that.  Paul: (13:19) So, you know, here's somebody who's coming forward with a potential partnership while the partnership was in acquisition is how it all played out in the end, favorably, mind you. But, you know, if we had put up our guards and weren't really interested in having that conversation that wasn't our attitude. We were open to any conversation because we had already been looked at before, you know, but we also recognized that wasn't a good play. We walked away from it. No harm, no foul type engagement. And then something else came up. We were like yeah, this might be viable. And our investors, like, this is what we should do.  Mitch: (13:56) And then, you know, as far as investors, you know, M&A, a lot of that, our listeners are a part of, and I do want to bring this to our, you know, the accounting and finance side of things. We talk about a lot of the strategic partnerships, opportunity recognition, and many of us are, you know, involved in these, but you know, it's cross-functional and somebody like yourself, you said, you're not in accounting or finance. You know, it's important to have relationships with those who do understand that. So, you know, from somebody who is experienced and successful with a lot of these strategic partnerships, from your perspective, what is the value of having somebody with that accounting background  Paul: (14:37) It's critical. and I think I mentioned in our pre-call in the context of how I've approached this being a commercial guy, you know, the moniker, just a sales guy, I'm not just a sales guy. You don't go from sales to M&A, unless you've, you know, laddered up and have a fair amount of skill sets to be able to support that. But in every case where I've run either a product group or even a sales group I had somebody that I designated as the financial expert, meaning somebody who I could turn to and say, I wanna model here. And here's how I want to model this type of pricing exercise or what the valuation might be relative to, you know, let's look at the business case and create that and create that quickly. You know, I can do that, but it takes too long.  Paul: (15:24) And so I'd rather go off and get some, you know, younger, you know, person who literally I've walked in to an office where we thought we were gonna be firing somebody you know, and about five minutes after meeting with the guy re recognized that he was gonna be more valuable if we kept him. And I put him on my team and essentially said, would you be interested in joining the product team, even though you are in finance? And he was like, well, yeah. I mean, that seems a lot more interesting that what I do in finance, it was like, okay, you know, targeting people who would have the right affinity and the right perspective and the flexibility to be patient with those of us who are not spreadsheet monkeys, I should say, spreadsheet, masters. and you get the idea, it's it's as much an attitude in terms of being able to communicate what the objective is, you know, I used to say, I write the manifesto, you write the code and be able to put that forward so that the bridges are made and the bridges are made early on.  Paul: (16:27) And that partnership is established early on, as opposed to, you know, okay, what do you want us to look at now? And even in the context of how to approach the problem, you know, recently I was in a conversation with a client where they were talking about potential acquisition. The company had no corporate development team. This was a substantial company, not publicly traded, but still nonetheless, a very substantial company, almost a billion dollars in revenues. And most of the stuff that they had done in M&A was on the fly, what I would call fire, ready, aim analysis. And you know, I looked around and I asked the question, okay, well, you guys have done a few, but they're really small. And this is a lot larger that you're thinking of, bigger scale. You're gonna have to do it swiftly.  Paul: (17:16) And by the way, there's a digestion period off after the fact. So the numbers may look seemingly at first pass a good thing, but there are a lot of soft analysis and factors that need to be reflected. So we need to ensure that those are reflected in the well that, you know, was a combination of my perspective and on the operational side, as well as the financial perspective of how do we measure and reflect the impact of those as costs, you know, and put a dollar figure behind that. And that that's a collaborative effort.  Mitch: (17:54) And, you know, you mentioned being able to do some of these models or analyses and doing them quickly. And I think a lot of what our accounting finance listeners are looking to do is, you know, upscale with these technologies in order to do their jobs more efficiently. But what you're kind of talking about here is really the re-skilling. Being able to take that skillset and apply it to a different function of the business. And I think a lot of what we're looking to do right, is kind of get that seat at the table. I think that's what a lot of our members and listeners want. So just, you know, you mentioned junior individuals and other finance you know, professionals, but as far as, you know, maybe the technical skills, but also some of those, the softer skills and just personality, how do you identify somebody from the finance team that you want on your team to help your strategic partnerships?  Paul: (18:44) Wow. You know, I wish I could say, well, this was my plan, in each of the scenarios, and here's the plan that I'll use in the next scenario, but that's just not the case. You know, it's as much instinct, instinct is essentially inferred experience and experience is gained. I should say an inferred expertise and expertise is driven by experience. So there's a gut factor in the context of knowing what I'm looking for and, you know, it helps when you're the leader of an organization and, you know, you know, what you want based on your past experiences. I guess generally I would say back to keep an open mind and look to, as you put it re-skill and apply your capabilities in other venues, because those skills may seem routine or even mundane in what you're doing. I mean, that's why one guy was like, yeah, you know, this is gonna be a lot more exciting than, you know, what I'm doing in the accounting group.  Paul: (19:52) Good. That's the whole idea, you know, that may seem mundane and routine in one environment, but then could be an extremely valuable asset in another environment. And that's how you end up by showing your judgment and skillset, et cetera. That's how you end up earning the seat at the table. As you mentioned, you know, we, there's a great book. I'm forgetting the author's name, but it's called range. And the premise of range is essentially that we have gone to the point where there's too much niche expertiers. One person does one thing really, really well, and they are viewed as the grand and therefore should be the unified leader. However you want to characterize it. But in reality, the complexities of the problems that we face, you know, there's a great example, like climate change, you just can't have one perspective.  Paul: (20:46) You've gotta have a lot of different experience to be able to come to the table. And I think that's as much what I've tried to do in my career. I mean, I've kind of ambidextrous in the sense that I have a pretty solid public slash political career when I was in my twenties and then exited into the private sector when I was in my thirties, but still utilized a lot of the skills and expertise that I developed, you know, as a young person in the political world and applied in the private sector. And even in the context, I then took that and pivoted into from going from large enterprises, you know, fortune 100 companies, AT&T, into startups and leverage that polish and process, but then also having the creativity and the agility, and even the attitude of being in a buccaneer inside a startup environment.  Mitch: (21:44) And so I do wanna wrap up this conversation. It's been extremely insightful. So thank you for sharing your experiences, some of the examples along the way you know, just as a last question for you, any last thing that you would like to add, you know, any advice or key takeaways from this conversation in terms of strategy, strategic partnerships, you know, earning that seat at the table, you know, what, what is a piece of advice that somebody in your position would like to share with our listeners  Paul: (22:14) So often I'm not going to label accountants as being the center of this, but so often people like, you know, the minimal viable product perspective of identifying your market and identifying your functionality and moving from zero to one, and then going from zero to one and realizing that, you know, that was a great success, which is essentially approaching a startup and getting a startup up and running. But I'm of the school that, you know, Reed Hoffman, who's the founder of LinkedIn, I believe, and wrote a book called Blitzscaling. And ironically, I kind of did blitzscaling before he wrote the book, but, you know, and as he puts it think going from zero to a billion and think in that context of, you know, I characterize it as going global from the start because global markets are gonna be bigger. They may be more difficult, but if you've got network effects that you can play out, you get faster, you get bigger and you end up defining the terrain that you're operating in relative to your competitors and even your customers. And if you're in that space, you know, then you're really the lead dog in all of this. So if there's one thing that I've would suggest, you know, I would, I'll put it in the context of special air squadron motto, which is the British SAS, who dares wins.  Speaker 4: (23:45) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Mar 28 2022
24 mins
Ep. 175: Greg Hoggard - IT & OT. The Accuracy of Technology for Change
Contact Greg Hoggard: https://www.linkedin.com/in/greg-hoggard-cma-9a201b9/Counting Eggs With AI: https://sfmagazine.com/post-entry/february-2022-counting-eggs-with-ai/Full Transcript:Adam: (00:04) Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. Kicking things off for you again is your host Adam Larson and I'm excited to introduce our featured guest for today's episode, Greg Hoggard. Greg is CFO and VP of finance and IT at Rembrandt Foods where he is responsible for all aspects of finance and accounting, IT, and grain purchasing. Greg co-authored an article in Strategic Finance to show how computerized vision and AI adoption can create significant value for an organization. In this episode, he discusses the value of aligning IT and OT and getting everyone in the company speaking the same language. Keep listening to hear how the intersection of AI and technology with finance leads to improved strategic performance.   Mitch: (00:57) So Greg, in your opinion, what is the value of, or really maybe even the need for information technology or IT and operational technology or OT to report into the same group.   Greg: (01:11) So for those that may not work in manufacturing, operational technology, so operations and technology, which are usually called a controls group, for those who work in manufacturing, they're the ones who deal with the hardware that collects the data. They have a little bit of a different talent than the IT group. They're data. They're not data miners necessarily, but they they're the ones who collect the data from the machines. They're a little bit of electrician, a little bit of, I hate saying maintenance. They're not maintenance, but they understand all those things. They understand how the operation is supposed to work and where the data's coming from. Think of those screens that you see in those old buttons and the really big, old manufacturing steel mill or just old manufacturing. When you see it on a television show, something, all of those buttons, all those controls, that's all done by operational technology groups.   Greg: (02:14) Whereas on the IT side, they really are the ones that control the data and the servers and the data bases, they make that data consumable for end users, and govern that data so that it's trustworthy and reliable. I think what we're seeing, these days in the last few years, especially, is that this whole internet of things push where everything is communicating with everything, those lines are starting to cross much more often than they used to, between like the operational technology groups and the information technology groups and what I've seen especially here at Rembrandt is that when those two teams work together, it becomes an unstoppable force. when those two teams are working separately and disparately, it can become a little confusing and unmanageable. So the need to have them report together, I think really it just drives change a lot faster and it gets you to the right answer much quicker.   Mitch: (03:26) So it sounds like, I would assume you mentioned this, you know, really being in manufacturing, but majority of businesses, they most likely require some additional change, right? Some new alignment to really implement this kind of strategy. So as far as change management goes, what are some of the key considerations for making this shift with the technology that we're talking about? The reporting. And really, I think it comes down to getting everybody from maybe two different sides to speak the same language. So, you know, what kind of steps would you recommend for that?   Greg: (04:01) So on the change management side, it's crucial that everybody understands their KPIs and their OKRs. So objectives, key results, and key performance indicators, really the goals that they're operating under, or goal posts, I guess you could say, I like to be a little more open-ended sometimes, but I think if you don't have that, then good luck with change. You gotta have that good starting point where everybody's working towards the same goal. I think that clear communication cross-functionally and just within the singular departments is necessary. And then I think that once you establish those clear metrics, you have, well at first you have to have something that, that can be measured, right? I mean, you can't have a metric that's not measurable. So having something that's accurate and objective to measure that goal is needed. And then really, I think these data visualizations, are much better tools to report feedback and then to measure against these goals than traditional scorecards and numbers.   Greg: (05:19) Most people don't like to look at numbers, I don't know if I should quote a book here, but I'm actually reading a book right now called Making Numbers Count, which, is a really good book by Chip Heath. And he's talking a lot about how most people really aren't wired to speak the numbers language. And I think as a accountants, we are wired to speak that way. At least we've learned that language and we wanna share the numbers down to the 10th decimal point to show that, to prove that we did the work and to prove that this is a real number, but other people get lost. so these visualizations that we're showing now with these tools like Tableau and power BI, those speak so much louder than the numbers that we wanna share. So I think this leads to accountability and acceptance of change. I don't think you can have change without that accountability and that doesn't come without that clear feedback. And then the objective measurements of clear objectives and key results and KPIs,   Mitch: (06:25) You know, with these metrics and, you know, the communication, everything you just mentioned with change management. I think, you know, the underlying theme here for both sides, you know, both languages, if you will, is the technology itself. I think that's causing the need for change and where people need to potentially, you know, learn a bit more or improve a bit more in their, you know, speaking capabilities, I guess you could say. So if we could just kind of shift from the human side of things and focus on the technological side of things and those resources for a moment, when adapting or implementing technology and, you know, increasing the need for this change management, what should our listeners really be most aware of when it comes to technology implementation?   Greg: (07:14) So I'm reminded of an experience during this, that I've been on with the company Rembrandt that I work for now and the team that we're working with. We, so I'll take a little bit dive into the story that was published as well at this point, but we have these analog counters. It's just an example. And these analog counters are just old technology. I mean, analog counting has been around since what the probably thirties, forties, maybe even before that, but anytime anything passes under this analog counter, it's counted as an egg in our case. So we have these counters on every single row of every single column of every single barn in our facility. And these counters, like I said, count anything that passes under that, their measure, their scope there and what we found, at the very beginning of this journey, we wanted to know if the measurement was accurate.   Greg: (08:18) So we performed an audit of the counters and we lined a hundred eggs up behind each of these counters before the start of the day. And then we turned them on and then after the a hundred eggs were counted on each counter, we turned off the system and then went and looked at the results. Some of the counters were off by 2% positive. Some of them were off by 2% negative. Some of them were off by 20% positive. Some of them were off by 20% negative in the worst case, some of them were off by 40%, both ways, but in the end, those errors offset each other. And so our operations group said, oh, well, we're within 2% overall. So we're good with these counters. Now, statistically speaking, you have to use absolute values and that would tell you that those counters are pretty much worthless, but that was one of the hardest things to talk about, with our group, because they had been operating for so long using that technology.   Greg: (09:20) And they had to trust it because that's what was available. I think now with improving technology and really AI at our fingertips, you don't have to rely on analog or on gut instinct or there's data there to be had. And I think really AI was definitely the path for us, but it's probably the path for a lot of other people with complex and really high quantity, high volume of data. Really. I think that harnessing all of that data or things that maybe we haven't thought really are data that's really what I believe will make companies more profitable over time. We're really all just data and supply chain companies. If you think about it, if when it boils down to it, you don't really have to work the hardest. You don't really have to make the best product, although those things are very important. If you wanna be a really sustainable ongoing concern type company, but really if you can make your product at the right time efficiently and get it to your customers at the right time when they want it, then really that's the value. I believe that many companies and most companies need to really tap into and really data is the way to do that.   Mitch: (10:44) Now I know our conversation today really initiated around an article that you wrote recently. And I know you, you said you kind of dove into some of the background of your company and some of your experiences, but I do wanna address the article and the significant value of AI adoption. So are you able to give us a little bit more of a history behind some of the initiatives that you implemented and, what the article is all about before we wrap up this conversation?   Greg: (11:12) Yeah, I would love to, actually, this has been really the high point of my time at Rembrandt so far. I'll take it back to the very beginning. in 2019, I wasn't working for Rembrandt at the time. I was working for a company called Oregon Freeze Dry in Oregon in Albany, Oregon. And, I had signed up and attended the San Diego IMA conference. And that's where I met, a gentleman named Daniel Smith, who I've been working with on this project, really, really great guy. If you ever get a chance to work with him, you should do it. But he sat next to me during a lunch. I believe it was a lunch and learn or a, just, we had a table full of full of experts and accountants and IMA members where we were just talking through different issues.   Greg: (12:09) And I was seated next to him. And we started talking about Python. We started talking about technology. There were a lot of other CMAs from the Philippines at our table as well, really good conversation convinced most of us at that table. Daniel did to go to his class, that he was teaching, the seminar that he had on Python and just making Python understandable for people like me, who aren't really programmers, aren't really data scientists. And really just got me thinking about technology. I switched companies and really came across these problems that I just talked about with the counters. We had a myriad of other problems as well, but it really occurred to me. I watched, I followed Daniel on LinkedIn and he was demystifying facial recognition and AI. And, I thought to myself at that point, well, if AI can recognize faces people, individuals, and all the different details that it takes to really identify who somebody is, then it should be able to identify an egg and eggs generally look the same they're different sizes.   Greg: (13:21) And generally the same shape. And so went down that path, contacted Daniel through LinkedIn, and that's where it started. I think it took us about two months to really get a proof of concept and a quote together to say, this is what it will take to do the project. And then we started really down that path of building a software system and developing that software to count these eggs and just the scale of these eggs. And I think I mentioned this in the article, but we've got 6 million birds on our site. And each of those birds, they lay eggs a little over six times a week on average. So it's about 92% of the time, of days they're laying eggs. So it's about 500, or sorry, about five, five point, I'll just say 5.5 million eggs a day, and the are all different sizes.   Greg: (14:17) So we have a big problem of trying to understand how efficient we are at converting the feed into egg, and then breaking those eggs into liquid, and then trying to identify where the loss is happening. So it seemed like a very complex problem that AI could solve. And what we found is that it works now, the hardest part has been, convincing people that this isn't Skynet. I think that, in the Ag side of the world, there's a lot of technology, a lot of AI, actually, if you read up on the Ag side of just Ag industry, AI is really taking hold. I haven't seen it yet in the egg industry, but, or I hope we're pioneering here and I hope it catches on, but it's, it's definitely an industry that, that requires something like this. There's just so much volume. When you think about feeding a nation and feeding the world, the Ag industry really is in need of really in depth complex models, which I think AI is really the answer to, to that problem of feeding the world efficiently.   Mitch: (15:34) Now, just real quick for our listeners. This was an article that was published in the February issue of the Strategic Finance magazine. And, we have a link to this article in the show notes here of the episode. And, you know, I just reiterating what you said. The article does a great job outlining the different phases and the different considerations that you went through. So as far as technology implementation and, you know, a real case on how it works and the benefits of it, you know, I think, it's a great example. And, you know, we're certainly appreciative of you writing the article for IMA and sharing your story here with us on the podcast, right before we wrap up, I just want kind of close out the conversation. At the end of the day, when it comes to technology and change management, you've had, you know, different experiences now and success with it. You know, some of the other considerations with technology that you, you briefly mentioned as far as the data and the governance, and, you know, really making sure that, you have your own policies in place. I'm just curious if there are any major lessons learned that really stand out, or maybe even, you know, more importantly, some key takeaways that our listeners can, you know, think about in their own technology implementation projects, as far, you know, things to remember.   Greg: (16:50) I really think the first thing that comes to my, for me here is, is so the president of my company now, he preaches people process tools, his name's Paul Hardy, great president. I think for me, what I'll take it back a second. So I love to build I'm a, I love to create things and we had so many things to fix. When I first go out here at Rembrandt I always ask for three years of financial statements before I accept a job offer. I think that's a good, a good habit to form for all of the accountants out there. You should know what you're getting into. And I knew I was getting into something that needed to be fixed. And that's kind of what that's my M.O. I really like to, to build. I like to fix, I like to, I think I understand manufacturing enough that I figured out the algorithm of how to make manufacturing work, but there were so many things, there were so many things to change, so many things to, to improve.   Greg: (17:50) I think I, I was thinking about this the other day, and there were 15 major projects that I undertook in less than two years. And we were successful in all of them when it came to implementing technology, when it came to building process and building the tools, what I wasn't as successful at, and only looking back, this was about in February last year, I realized that I had done all of these things and I left everybody else in the dust. I left the people out of it, and that was devastating for me. It was devastating for me to, to know that I did all of this work. I built all of these tools. I built all of the, the process, but in the end of the day, if the people don't come with you, then you're just left with a tool on the shelf.   Greg: (18:40) And that's what if I had to go back and change it? I would, I think, taking on less projects and spending more time communicating with the people, helping them understand why it's so important, maybe modeling and showing why it's so important before going off and, and just getting it done. I think that would've been helpful for me and something that I will definitely take with me going forward. That being said, we did a lot of projects, and I think we're getting the people caught up with us. So it's not like we wasted all of our time on the 15 different things. But yeah, I just have to say people, perceptions. Those are the most important part of change management, because a tool won't do the work for you, a process won't of the work for you in the end, there are people that are the most important thing that we have, the most important resources that we have. And if we leave them in the dust, then what good is the tool that we've put in place. So that's the lesson I've learned in the last two years.   Speaker 4: (19:51) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard. And you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Mar 21 2022
20 mins
Ep. 174: Pedro Barros - Scaling and Managing a Successful Global Finance Team
Contact Pedro Barros: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pedromonteirobarros/Remote: https://remote.com/FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:Adam: (00:04) Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host Adam Larson and today you are listening to episode 174 of our series. In this episode, you'll hear from Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote. At Remote, Pedro was responsible for analyzing financial performance for budgeting and forecasting, managing all accounting operations and providing strategic guidance to accelerate business expansion. Over the last five years, he has been focusing on high growth tech companies and was previously Head of Finance at Codacy. He joined Count Me In to share his knowledge on building, scaling, and managing a successful global finance team. So keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.  Mitch: (00:57) So I understand Remote, your company is growing very rapidly. And, I'm just curious to kind of kick off our conversation here. How are you thinking about structuring the finance team during this growth phase and what are some of the key positions or key areas within the finance team you're really focusing on?  Pedro: (01:13) Thanks Mitchell. I joined the team as the first finance hire around two years ago, and it's a team of over 50 people today. I started the team top down, so we really went for, expertise and individuals with, subject matter expertise. But, it was a hard combination because we also wanted folks that could settle in, in well, in a very fast and growing, entity company. And, we found them like I've hired, two or three directors that really accelerated all the finance functions, a Group Controller and a Treasurer. And, a bit later than that, Director of Tax and all of these individuals really, really accelerated how the finance function was structured, how we were delivering to the business and how the finance was partnering across the organization.  Mitch: (02:17) And now I know we will talk a little bit, you know, as far as, scaling everything and how all this ultimately plays out, you know, for the finance function, but as far as the individuals go and as you're going through this hiring process, you know, for our listeners who maybe are looking to jump into new finance roles and things that are evolving across the profession in various industries, what are some of the qualities that you're really looking for in a finance hire and, you know, as everything is growing so rapidly, you know, a fast growing company like Remote, what are some of the skills that you're really, you know, targeting?  Pedro: (02:50) I touched, on my previous question around the deep subject matter expertise, it's folks, that can have a lot of ownership in their role. So someone that can compliment what I'm doing and, not necessarily build redundancy. So having folks that have done it in the past and can come very quickly, has done and have a high impact is critical. Someone that can nurture teams, because we knew at the place that we were going, that we would have to grow, teams very rapidly. And at the same time, we had to hire individuals that were very, tech savvy on the aspect of automation and how to make systems work for them and not just grow the team to address the growing pains and the growing needs of the organization as we're scaling very, very fast.  Mitch: (03:50) And you, you kind of just alluded to it a little bit. but you know, we were talking about individuals, the finance team, how does that really fit into the overall organization? Right? So what we're really trying to figure out here is, you know, how does Remote manage the company culture and make sure that everybody, you know, plays their part and, fits in, in a cohesive team?  Pedro: (04:11) Yeah. On your first point, the finance team at Remote is a bit different from many other organizations, as we are core to a lot of the product development that we do, a lot of the services that we provide. So we tend to, it's a subject like global employment is a subject is very close historically with, finance teams. And we have a lot of expertise in the team to help enable the overall company in terms of how Remote culture is managed in terms of fast growing and how we can sustain it. It was something that was designed even before the company was created, which were our values. Both the Auburn, Marcel, our founders, are very committed to the culture of the company through values alignment. We have a lot of cultural diversity, as you can imagine, by having folks in 60 plus countries across the globe working for us. So our expectation is we'll have a lot of cultural diversity, but an ambition is that folks will always work, at Remote with deep values alignment. And this goes with excellence ownership, kindness. It's one of the, I think it's the glue of the company. It is the value of kindness and something I have to in terms of automation and the scalability of the business.  Mitch: (05:41) That's great. I know you, oftentimes historically I think accounting, finance teams, at least the perception is they've kind of been siloed, right. Kind of the smaller group, you know, very focused on the numbers and getting the job done, but, you know, that has evolved so much. And, companies like yours, the finance function is really more or less the backbone for everything. And kind of, you know, what I've seen through various conversations here, you know, the team that's really driving those core values and just the cross-functional collaboration, the finance team, and those are the individuals who can really, you know, portray those values and gain support, and really partner to bring the business forward. So, I think, you know, aligning core values like that is certainly key. With that sentiment, you know, the idea that, global diversity and following these values, what else is it that your company is doing, that we can share with our listeners that would help other accounting, finance functions, finance teams, you know, grow and manage successfully like you are, you know, on this global basis, getting back to the topic here, how can we help other accounting and finance teams scale globally?  Pedro: (06:58) I think there are some fundamental things that the Remote is doing well, and it's working well, for us, in term one is, the working asynchronously. Means that you do your job and you work whenever it fits you, it fits your schedule. It fits your motivation when you are stronger. And it's not from not from nine to five, or maybe it is, it's not, it's independent from that. It's much more focused on objectives and not on the achievements more than on activity per se. And, if you are on, certain hours, and, the way we are doing it, based a lot on, documentation has managed Remote to grow very, very fast. Our finance team has grown massively and, very successfully continues supporting the business and delivering to our objectives. And I have folks from Korea to San Francisco, and, we are very much independent, from where, anyone is because they, they do their thing.  Pedro: (08:06) They understand what they need to do. Their individual has a very clear objectives and drive for excellence. They take ownership on their projects and, the work they need to do. And all these documented when someone is asleep, there's a document for me to act upon. And next day, that person is live at whatever time and they can pick up on that. So there's always this sense of follow continuous work. What Remote has also enabled in terms of, global distributes companies is, hiring the best individuals anywhere in the world. So subject folks have more expertise in a subject, here or there, or have been more face to fast growing companies. For example, in US, you have a lot of expertise of individual that have faced, the growth of, companies on a very fast scale. And we can hire them. And we are very geography, agnostic. Obviously we, sometimes we need to hire for certain geographies as an objective, but where folks are it's up to them.  Mitch: (09:21) Before we get into the geographies in the different countries. I understand the continuous work and the opportunity to work independently. Is there ever a time when you do have the whole team together, are there certain points maybe it's months, or, you know, throughout the year that regardless of where you are, you try to get as many people together as possible?  Pedro: (09:40) We thought about that March 2020, but, has happened that it didn't happen. Look, we grew very, very fast. So by the time all thought that the pandemic was getting a bit slower and we could potentially connect, like the team was massively bigger, different folks in different geographies in the world were facing, challenges. And, we are very respectful of the needs of each one of us. And, we are not going to, to ask anyone to, to go through airport trips when we're facing, the heat of a pandemic. Now we've grown to a size where more likely we'll be doing, team focused, get togethers in real life, for example, finance team, or a tech team and an FP&A team, as it makes sense or some geographical focused, gettogethers but, in real life, it hasn't happened at a large scale, what we do.  Pedro: (10:43) And I think there is a lot of purpose when we do it, is, weekly, all hands between the finance team. We connect one on one, weekly, at least so that at least we direct managees and managers, and sometimes some critical stakeholders or individuals in the team that are doing certain, certain projects that require closer connection with, each other. And, it's done with a lot of purpose, because when you decide to go on a call with someone, on a zoom video, it's to really, understand what are their challenges, how can you solve them if it's a synchronous meeting it's to ensure that, it's all things are addressed there. And, we do something that is also important when you touch the in real life is, in these one oh ones. We try to connect as individuals like work can be done in documents. But, I try to spend time with my team to like, let know how I'm going, how things in my life are going connect with my colleagues, my manager, and others, how things are going on their end, and to be very frank, the connection you have across the firm is very, very strong, obviously by now, I don't know everyone personally, but, I still know a lot of people, directly. And, we have a very close connection, which is super interesting.  Mitch: (12:17) That's great. It's, you know, a very compassionate culture. It sounds like, and you know, a very compassionate approach to building the team. So, I certainly appreciate that. And then now taking a step back as we were talking about, you know, different geographies and the different individuals that you're working with, what kind of infrastructure, you know, people, processes, systems, do you look to build first, as you go across, you know, different countries and, how do you integrate these different processes and such into the overarching, you know, finance function and tying back really to those values and the goals of the organization.  Pedro: (12:59) We have, an international expansion team specialized in growing remotes and while in most of the companies, you internationalize for commercial reasons, remote by default wants to be global so we can cater for our customers. And, not that we want to expand to a certain country because we have specific commercial needs there, but we want to provide, a global reach to everyone. So we are expanding globally very, very fast. And we have an international expansion team, very focused on setting up these across the group, understanding local requirements, legal implications, working with the tax team on tax implications, et cetera. And that's usually the first couple of steps treasury as well, setting up our banking infrastructure locally. We tend to work with some of the largest global banks, so that we can accelerate also opening, locally as well. And usually these are, the first steps very quickly, with the initiation of operations in a country.  Pedro: (14:08) We set up, a local texting that we work with usually outsourced with, with one of our main partners or local partner, if they do not cover that specific geography, we have an ambition to bring as much as possible in house, so likely with time. And if it's a major geography, we'll, have that expertise in house. In terms of system, we have been implementing SAP since we were 30 people in the company. We did a very fast, implementation of, 43 countries. And now we are rolling out to over the next year to 90 plus countries with the vision of being in 150 plus countries, very, very soon. So on that, with that, what we ensured with SAPs, that we had a scalable, highly collaborative and system with a very good, expertise in, in the space and, debt in box massively, how we can scale our operations globally.  Mitch: (15:17) Now, as you scale and, you know, grow, you go into these different geographies. What is your approach to fundraising? Would you recommend going with, more opportunistic fundraising? Is there any thing that you would consider a benchmark or a line that you really want to make sure you're following?  Pedro: (15:36) Remote has been very fortunate that, we always attracted very, very good investors to the company. And we have been growing, healthy, with their support and, fundraising that's, they have an investment they have may be making in the firm. In terms of opportunistic fundraising, if it makes sense, and you have, an ambition and you know exactly where you are heading and, you know, you can make good use of those funds. It makes sense, but opportunity usually comes from you being prepared with, so, and if you're already prepared to take action, it means that there is an underlying perception that will have good use for it. You are open to it, and you understand that, by doing so you derisk the business, you achieving your vision and your mission.  Pedro: (16:36) And, which usually is a tool, and it's not, an outcome, fundraising. And I see it very much, in that way, market dynamics sometimes are more volatile or more unpredictable. And if you secure now, why should you be focusing on very lengthy process in six months or 12 months from now, instead of doing it, today, obviously fundraising comes with dilution. So it's always the other side of the coin. And I think you, as a leader in the firm finance, or, CEO, or founders optimize for that, but, usually that opportunistic fundraising comes from you being already exposed and open to it more than, oh, it happened.  Mitch: (17:23) Absolutely. And, you know, I'd like to kind of wrap up our conversation today. as we, you know, we're talking about building scaling, managing successful global finance team, and, we addressed the independence of individuals, and you know, everybody working remotely for our listeners and anybody who is interested in scaling their business, or possibly going to remote finance teams, or still struggling with that aspect of it following the last couple years, what are just some considerations or implications, you know, that you would like to point out to make sure that everybody is aware of, you know, what goes into a team such as yours?  Pedro: (18:07) I think there some fundamental points that we touched earlier earlier on which are, on the team values on the team connection, and because growing internationally remote teams, it's not easy, you must do it with purpose and you must do it with care, and understand that if you are hiring individual that, have the values alignment to succeed in such an environment and in a company that is working fully remote, I think we have been increasingly more exposed to it. So which one of us is also learning how to succeed in such an environment, but, when, when you're growing our team, that is a specific consideration that, I would very, very much focus on. Obviously then you have other more infrastructure type of, of considerations on taxation of, individuals, especially if they are nomad and they are moving around the globe, where are they going to pay their taxes?  Pedro: (19:09) Can you hire them locally? Do you do it as a contractor because it's really a contractor type of, relationship or, you by doing so you're exposing to disqualification and you rather do it as a permanent employee also for equality between them and the rest of your team that potentially are headquarters or are working in a country that you have established operations. And, for companies, this also opens the point on permanent establishment, which by having someone, operating, on your behalf in another country, do they increase the risk of the company on permanent establishment or not? And this is assessment that needs to be done on a case by case basis, almost just profile of the employee that you hire remotely can, trigger a higher risk of burn establishment and maybe others that are, seem to be similar to not. And this should be assessed, but is critical consideration that we take when hiring someone internationally.  Closing: (20:18) This has been Count Me In IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession, if you like, what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Mar 14 2022
20 mins
Ep. 173: Celebrating International Women's Day!
Contact Mardi McBrien: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mardimcbrien/Contact Brigitte de Graaff: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brigitte-de-graaff-134b408/Contact Margaret Michaels: https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-michaels/IMA's Website: https://www.imanet.org/Sustainability CFO: The CFO of the Future?: https://www.imanet.org/insights-and-trends/external-reporting-and-disclosure-management/sustainability-cfo-the-cfo-of-the-futureResearch cited: 2021 Weinreb Group Study  McKinsey’s 2021 “Women in the Workplace” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10997-021-09604-7 Deloitte: Understanding Generation Z in the workplaceFull Episode Transcript:Mitch: (00:05)Welcome back to Count Me In IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. Today, we have a special conversation for you as we hosted a mini panel of speakers in honor, of International Women's Day. International Women's Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8th to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women for IMA and our management, accounting listeners, Margaret Michaels, IMA's Manager of Brand Content and Storytelling speaks with two women about their work in the area of sustainability. Marty McBrien and, and Bridget Degraph join Margaret here on, Count Me In to talk about the unique role women are playing in sustainability and the pipeline of future female finance leaders in this space. To celebrate this important day and valuable topic, keep listening as we head over to the panel conversation nowMargaret: (01:05)It is such an honor to be facilitating this discussion today. I have a strong interest in sustainability, and I know other Count Me In listeners do as well. I want to structure this discussion around proof points about women in sustainability, which have been substantiated by research. And I want to hear each of your reactions to the statements and their implications for women's work in sustainability. So the first proof point women are playing an outsized role in sustainability work. According to a 2021 wine group study, women went from holding 28% of chief sustainability officer positions in 2011 to 54% in 2021, which is a 94% increase. So let's start with you, Marty, in your role, you've connected with so many professionals in this space. Would you share your observations on working with women leaders in this area? Does it surprise you that women are playing this outsized role and what might be responsible for the dramatic increase in their participation and in the work of sustainability?Marty: (02:26)Thanks Margaret. And, thank you, IMA it's a real pleasure to be here on what is, you know, such an important day to celebrate, you know, the, really amazing community of women that have played such important roles in leadership both now and in the future and sustainability across the world. You know, I'm really, privileged to be , part of such an amazing space. And, and I guess if it doesn't surprise me the statistics that you have, I've, been lucky enough actually, to emulate the success of a series of amazing female leaders before me. I always say I'm so privileged that I've just had really fabulous female boss, female leader, female mentor in this space across my 20 plus year career, that I've just been able to, you know, grow and thrive and build off them. And so, you know, I'm going to be forever grateful for that.Marty: (03:15)but also if you think more broadly beyond me, you have, you know, sustainability women are the ones out there that are taking active steps to educate them themselves on issues linked to sustainability, whether that be within the home, in their broader community, in their lifestyles. And so as they learn more and more, they're actually looking for roles that reflect their, and I think that's what we're starting to see today. I is women taking on roles and wanting to jump into roles that you are increasing. You know, there's never been a bigger demand for roles in sustainability ever, and, and women more and more aligning their values. We can cut onto more of that later and stepping into that space. And if we think about my voluntary career, so not my professional career, but what would I do in my free time.Marty: (04:05)And, I do a lot of work with, you know, small charities that focus on livelihoods and empowerment work for women. And, and it's those women in these developing countries that are being affected by climate and sustainability issues the most. And they're the ones that are then taking action and wanting to do more. And so, you know, that's the space, I think, where we can all do a bit more maybe to help, help give those, those ladies that are really trying to take action, which will have, you know, significant impacts on our future. You know, I think there's, various different ways to take these statistics, but I think, you know, it's all encouraging and it's all the right to action of travel.Margaret: (04:39)Bridget, do you have any thoughts on, women's outside role in sustainability?Bridget: (04:47)Well, I think I mostly agree with what Marty just said and, it's, it's quite funny. I hadn't heard about these numbers before, but, when I started thinking now about the research I've done within companies on sustainability and integrated, and also about the taskers actually, a sustainable business management task forces. And if I'm thinking about that, I think we are really very much, I think either about 50, 50% male female, or even with the leaders, the sustainability officers and the leaders I spoke within those companies. I think we, a majority were us indeed female, andI never really realized that actually until now. And I start thinking about it. and I, agree that there's probably not necessarily just one reason who might explain this dramatic increase. however, what I can imagine is that as Marty just said, there are just so many roles now available within sustainability it's within that sense,it's not a new field, but it's a field where more and more roles are being created.Bridget: (05:51)And I think, as what I saw also in those companies is that sometimes women just tend to set up, step up and create a role in the way they think that is necessary in their organization. So they just start, you know, breaking down those silos, their themselves, that's what I've seen, those new roles they are available there. you just need to make it. And I think women especially are very well aware of how they can create a role and also how they can build in certain flexibility on what their responsibilities are, what they do, and don't necessarily stick into one silo, but make sure that you create these connections throughout your organization. so i think that might be, one of the reasons why you see more and more women in sustainability, just because they are stepping up and taking this chance. And also on the other hand, I mean, if you're looking at define as an accounting profession, if you compare 10, 20 years ago, until now, there are just so many more women available in the pool of accounting profession, professionals to pick up this role. So, it may also be just a natural growth of women in leader positions, nowadays. Yeah,Margaret: (07:01)That makes sense. And I think both of you, speak to sustainability and women's values and interest in the home in family and society as contributing factors. And I, I think that's very relevant. So the next, proof point, if you will, that I wanted to bring up, had to do with a finding from, McKinsey's 20, 21 women in the workplace study and not surprisingly in the year of COVID, McKinsey has said women faced special related to work life balance, but they also found that women's commitment to sustainability, especially in the arena of D&I remained unwavering. The report stated women are rising to the moment as stronger leaders and taking on the extra work that comes with D& I compared with men at the same level, women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity equity and inclusion efforts. So let's start with you Bridget. What are your thoughts on this statement and McKinsey's finding?Bridget: (08:18)Well, I'm not sure whether I'm very much surprised about these findings. I can imagine that women having faced for a long time that maybe sometimes they just had to do the extra step in order to get to a certain place. They naturally might feel committed to a D& I, efforts basically. So I can't quite imagine that they know that's, how hard it can be, what hurdles you can, come across. And that therefore just it's, well, it's not in their nature, but it's sort of the way they, might feel like, well, we know that this is important and we cannot stop it, especially not in these times, especially not in the past year. For example, I also think that, well, they know what they know what it means, so they know what perhaps you might need if you, if you want to keep a healthy work life balance. If, you're learning your career, with personal wishes as well, besides your career that maybe they know what flexibility is required and they are much, well, maybe a little bit more, willing to accommodate that as well. So I think for the diversity equity and inclusion efforts that, I'm not very much surprised about the fact, that's, they are continuing on that even in this year. Yeah.Margaret: (09:42)And Marty, what are your thoughts on that?Marty: (09:45)I mean, I think this is something all leaders have to get better at, right? This is something that all of us have to keep challenging ourselves to evolve and get better at and think more widely. And, although as a, you know, a working mom that, that does the, you know, the sort of crazy juggle and as, you know, blaze my trail. I would say that we all need to get better at this. And I rely on all my team, all of those around me to continue to challenge, to continue to inspire me and others to do better in, you know, even everything from, you know, when we plan events to, providing everything from translation, making sure what I do is accessible to everyone around the world in a way they can access it. You know, it's not just me and my, you know, my little team and making sure, but it's diversity of thought and opinion that we're seeking on everything we do as well as gender, as well as making sure we're available in different times to talk to people, making things available so that I can, upskill other parts of the world in what I'm doing.Marty: (10:44)I'm just really privileged to have led a team for the last 10 years that have challenged me consistently on doing better on D&I issues. And I think overall, that's just made me a better person, as well and allowed me to, and to help others think about those, those issues as well. So I think this is a real team area and, personal area that I think we can, we can do better on it. And then always continually learning and evolving. You know, there's no one fixed answer to this.Margaret: (11:14)That's very encouraging to hear. And especially in IMA, diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority for our organization. And it's good to hear that it's also high on the priority list at others as well.Marty: (11:30)Margaret not to cut in, my staff would never let me get away with it. If it wasn't like culture is so important, the culture that we have, the culture, I mean, I could emulate the perfect that culture, but to be the staff saying, Marty, like, come on let's we need to do better. And that challenge just makes me want to do better. Right. And that's from men and women, you know, of all ages and that's, that's cool. That's where this, that's where this needs to be.Margaret: (11:55)I agree. And also, maybe people don't know D&I is, under the umbrella of sustainability, but, you know, it, as I get more educated about sustainability myself, I see how it's a natural fit. So, you know, I've, I've welcomed greater discussion about how de and I is a contributing factor in that.Bridget: (12:19)Yeah, well basically, if you are a sustainable organization moving more and more towards, towards a sustainable business model, part of that sustainable business model is that you recognize diversity, equity and inclusion that you just can't do it on your, on your own in just not your own way. You need to have this diversity of thought, you need to have this broader mindset. You need to think outside the box, especially if you're gonna move towards a real sustainable business model, real sustainable business management. You're just not gonna cut it with one way of few. So you really need that diversity in your team, and you really need that. That's, well, others are challenging you in a way in order to make sure that you are going to achieve those goals that you set for yourself. So it is an essential part of sustainability to have diversity equity and inclusion in your team and in your whole organization.Marty: (13:11)And it's not a tick box exercise, right? This is not one of those ones that you just tick the box and you move on.Bridget: (13:17)No, it's something you really have to work on, but you really have to live it as well. It's not something you can just align with and, and, and hire someone, that you think, well, that's creates diversity. No, you really have to live and breathe through this and really probably need to make changes to your, the way work, in order to make this happen.Margaret: (13:37)Absolutely diversity equity inclusion, as you both mentioned, encompasses gender, but it encompasses race. It encompasses age, it can encompass a whole variety of factors. but another proof point I wanted to take a look at was, the link between gender and sustainability engagement, which is kind of the thesis of this whole podcast. there have been researchers who studied the link between gender and sustainability engagement with their results published in the October, 2021 issue of the journal of management and governance, which is a peer reviewed journal. They found that the presence of women in top echelon positions is associated with greater engagement in social and environmental projects, and their presence also positively influences the mental and social performance and increases the level quality and transparency of sustainability disclosure and furthermore, the presence of women in top echelon positions and the implementation of sustainability activities improve both the firm financial performance and value. So I just kinda wanna dissect, that finding because it's pretty impactful. There are clear indications that when an organization focuses on sustainability, they see improvement in their financial performance and value. So it's not just some intangible, goal it's very tangible and what they can achieve can be measured and will speak to investors and other people that, are stakeholders in the organization. So I just wanted to get your thoughts. Marty, we can start with you. Does it surprise you that there are tangible links between sustainability and improved financial performance and value?Marty: (15:44)Not at all here. I mean, no surprises at all. Mark. Great. you mean, we've talked about it a little bit already, but diversity for, or an approach just adds to the conversation at the top. and, it allows you to challenge, allow it to create more like inclusive conversations. It creates more resilient businesses and, and it is just, companies that are going through and putting the time and effort and money invest, you know, investment into really doing high quality sustainability disclosure, you know, good sustainability reporting and disclosure, isn't a cheap exercise, right? This should have the same sort of financial resources around it as you do for your financial reporting, the same sort of controls when you go to that sort of effort and you get that commitment at, the top, and you've got that broad diversity of thought. It's no wonder they're getting better performance scores, because they're thinking about this as a whole in the round and committing to it properly. And with the, you know, with that broader, you know, resilience thinking, you know, diversity of thought you will, of course naturally get better results. It's, thinking about something differently, taking something outside the box, outside a traditional thought process about how you can evolve something or do something a bit different that has better results in the long run for the business.Margaret: (17:05)Do you agree with that?Bridget: (17:08)Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think this really relates back to what we're just discussing about diversity equity and include, you know, if you have, diversity of thought in your team, if you have diversity of thoughts in your, in your boardroom already, because that's where it needs to be. That's where the, in the end, these strategic decisions are being made. So you really want to make sure that there is diversity, in the, and at the board level. but really if you create that, it means that you are as a team, as an organization, you are much more, willing, but also much more resilient to the changes that are the outside, outside world is giving you basically. So really there isn't this business case for sustainability and it's shown in previous research as well. You know, the board diversity that it really does create value, not only non-financial value, but also financial value.Bridget: (17:57)And I, I don't really like the separation between non-financial and financial, because I think it's, it's absolutely tightly, not tightly not to gather financial non-financial value. but that's, that's, that's where, where the, the real value creation is, and that's where it comes from a diverse team. So with women on top, and not, not just women, just a real diverse, team that you need to have to make these decisions, they are, well, I think the force behind creating value in general, for yourself as a company, as well as for society. And that's what this whole sustainability premise is about. That it's not something which, is for just for the outside world. It's not just about a reporting part. It's not just about, about showing how well you're doing to others. Now, it's really integrating this in your, organization, integrating it in your, this making, integrating it in the fibers of your organization. Meaning that you're actually, like I said before, living through this, but that is what creates value for now, but also in the future.Margaret: (19:01)Absolutely. So finally, we've talked about a lot of different things I wanted to touch on the future of female lead and sustainability, especially their involvement in sustainable business management, which is so closely tied to strong accounting and finance knowledge. Deloitte, in collaboration with the network of executive women has closely studied gen Z. Those born between 1995 and 2012, who make up 24% of the us population and found that when it comes to choosing employers, 77% of gen Z respondents say that it is important that they work in an organization whose values align with their own. And these values include working for companies that place an emphasis on making a positive impact on society. So as companies look at this future pipeline of workers, how important is it that they adopt sustainability as an integral part of how they're operating and make sure that it's part of their companywide mission and values, bridge. Do you wanna start as a, I am a global taskforce member with people who are representative of gen Z. You, you probably know very well, where their priorities lie, choosing their employers.Bridget: (20:32)They, well, it's a fair point. It's becoming more and more important for this generation in need that they are working, that they are adding value to society, that they feel like they're doing giving something back to the community that is not just about creating shareholder value, but creating broader value, in that sense. however, I do not really think that companies who haven't made those steps yet that they are missing out in a way or that they, they, they are, I think they can turn it around really quickly. So if you want to speak towards, this, this workforce, of, gen sets, I think, there are still lots of opportunities. I can imagine. There has been so much has happened in the field of sustainable business management in the past, years, that you can learn so much from other organizations around you who have changed the way they work, who have changed their business model, who have changed the way they see or look at value creation. And I think Gen Z, for example, is, a generation who might see it, even though they want to work as an organization who has these values, they might also see it as a challenge to bring it to an organization to get those values. there's a great challenge there, but there's so much to, I think you can really turn this around real quickly as an organization.Margaret: (21:48)Marty, what do you think you think companies can ramp up sustainability efforts and, and meet these demands of our, of our future leaders and pipeline of talent?Marty: (21:58)Yeah, I think they're gonna have to, to be honest, I think if they're not there yet, they haven't got long there to get there because, you know, post pandemic more and more employees are acting with their fee, right. They're aligning much more with their personal values and wanting to go and find a company that aligns with their, you know, a professional versus personal value alignment as they're, as they're stepping out the front door every day. And, and often that's more and more as we're seeing in the pandemic more and more around making more sustainable decisions, different changes to livelihood situations, different balance of work, you know, buying, you know, so much has changed in the last two years of the pandemic that I think employers don't have very long to be really ramping up their broadest sustainability, work program that they possibly can to engage, not just GenEd, but you know what, I don't even know what I am I'm.Marty: (22:48)So now a days they call me something between baby boomers and Gen Z should I say, but, you know, even I require I've recently started a new job here at the IRS foundation coming from CDB. And the first thing I was like, is there alignment of values? Am I still going to be purpose driven? You know, I want a purpose driven job. Does this organization align with my values? Yes, it does. But you know, have to work through all of these steps nowadays. And that's a really important part of me when I get up and I you know, get out of bed and I go to work. And I think if you are not aligning more and more with sustainability, you just won't get the best talent and you won't get that inclusion and diversity of thought, you will be paying for second rate talent. And I think what you really need to be doing is starting to, move the dial further on this now and working out how, how you can align your business more and more with the broadening and fast paced sustainability agenda. And, then, you know, applying that to your recruitment and retention strategies as well.Bridget: (23:47)And, and actually, I also think that, you made a fair point that,, the good talents or the talent with a lot of, of well chances there. But I really think that there is, not enough, people focused on, sustainable business management as in, there is a whole world of opportunities out there in sustainable business management and talent is scarce in this field, to get to this real, point where you are able to make a difference within organization and really see how an organization moves away from this, traditional view on value creation and to how can we really be, well, indeed purpose driven those, people in the workforce. They are very scarce. I would, in that sense, just call upon all those, women in the fields and all the men as well, actually, because we need them all, but really to, to think about what this could mean for your own career and to see the opportunities that are there, they are plenty. So just go explore this wonderous world of sustainable business management, because we need you,Marty: (24:53)I, couldn't agree more on that. There's never been more opportunities to move in sustainability at ESG, anywhere in the world than there are now. I mean, they've never paid as well either. Let's be honest, you know, so I think I, if you are thinking of that, getting into it career into sustainability, dream big, I mean, there's so many opportunities out there go and hunt for what you want. You know, I, I wish there were so many out there when I was getting into it. And, yeah. And just jump in and have a try. You know, there's so many different angles to sustainability as well. There's, there is moving into sustainable final. If you're already in accounting or management, accounting, there's so many different of ways you can move into because these streams are getting closer and closer and closer together. You know, we're after business as usual, these things need to be so, you know, so closely stacked together that in five years time, we don't know the difference, right?Marty: (25:38)It's just business management, how we managing the business to create value in the short, medium and long term. We don't need to be talking about sustainability. It's about wider business management. You know, jump in, get involved, have fun. It's fun. It's a fun space. It's evolving all the time. You know, there's never a, you know, nothing's moved ever so fast in my career. So my life, even in fact how fast the sustainability space for employment and opportunities and just growth and learning and being part of the change and part of the solution. I mean, it's yours for taking,Margaret: (26:10)I, love your optimistic views on sustainability, and I'm really glad that you both are working in this space. You're clearly making a difference in champions for sustainability.Outro: (26:25)This has been Count Me In IMA's podcast, with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession, if you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMAS website, www dot Ima, net.org.
Mar 7 2022
26 mins
Ep. 172: Dan Toma - Innovation Accounting
Contact Dan Toma: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dantoma/Outcome: https://weareoutcome.co/Dan's other podcasts:https://theinnovationshow.io/episode/ep-230-the-corporate-startup-how-established-companies-can-create-successful-innovation-ecosystems-with-dan-toma/https://thinkers50.com/blog/thinkers-50-podcast-dan-toma-and-innovation/https://open.spotify.com/episode/2HeJjCHvNvCrD6vydCPsG4?si=u3kBTT3yR4W1D1Z_ie3Fxg&dl_branch=1FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:Mitch: (00:05) Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. This is your host Mitch Roshong, and I'm here to introduce our featured guest for episode 172 of our series. This conversation features Dan Toma, an innovation thought leader and the co-author of the award-winning book, The Corporate Startup and Innovation Accounting. He joined Count Me In to talk about elements of the book, specifically the importance of the people in the organization and further defining innovation, accounting, Dan shares practical examples from his own experience as a product owner, entrepreneur, corporate transformation leader. So keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.  Adam: (00:55) So Dan, as you know, some something that companies have always done is look at their employees as assets and many times when there's a financial crisis, the first step is let's cut half the staff and move forward. But with the ever changing times of business and acceptability, that's not acceptable anymore. And so as businesses grow, they're encouraged to grow the value of their assets and the same approach probably should be taken toward people. What benefit do you see that in the workplace?  Dan: (01:22) Right. What should I say? I mean, you know, you walk in those corporate buildings, you work into various offices and you see slogans on the wall. Employees are our biggest asset on all that stuff. Right. But when you go and look in the financial records, you actually end up seeing the fact that employees are listed as cost as liability because they have obviously a salary attached to them. Right. So, yes, it would be great to have more companies, think of their employees as real assets, beyond the slogan, beyond the mottos, if you want, and start investing in them, if they will start treating people as assets, they will obviously start investing and nurturing their skills, care about their mental wellbeing. Do all these things that you would normally do to an asset.  Dan: (02:19) Like if you have a truck you are going to wash it and, you know, change your oil and put the best parts in it. But if you have a UX designer where if you have, a great HR person, how do you make sure that you actually treat that, that particular individual as an asset? But there are actually companies that do that. And, these companies are, you know, football clubs and in general sports franchises, they have their players list as assets. I'm not saying now that we should go in that direction and trade my accounting person from my bank, with your accounting person, from the whatever automotive company. But it would be fun, right? So yeah, in general, the, the benefits will, obviously go towards the employees themselves. Like they will have the most to benefit from. And obviously by them being treated as assets, the company will, obviously benefit. But I think, short term, the benefit will be with the employees later, the benefit will come to the company as a result of the employees being, regarded as assets, however, financial accounting considers them as liabilities. Hmm.  Adam: (03:32) That makes sense. So I want to kind of bring the conversation, back to your book. My co-host mentioned has mentioned your book in our intro and in your book, you cover nine myths, about measuring innovation. And I found them very fascinating. And I was wondering if you could walk us through a couple of those on how they relate to accounting.  Dan: (03:51) Yeah. So, we've uncovered those myths as we were working with our clients and, we decided to put them in the book because we fought and we, know there is a lot of people out there that still unfortunately live by those myth. So one of the first ones, and we actually wrote about this in the first book in the corporate startup as well, is that people tend to view R&D expenditure as a synonym for innovation prowess. And, this is very far from the reality, if you go, and, I encourage you actually, the audience to go and research two tops. one top is the BCG most innovative companies, of this year, I think is 50 companies they put in the top and the other one is the, top that comes from the European commission, if I'm not mistaken.  Dan: (04:46) And it tracks the biggest R&D spenders off that year. And if you put the top side by side, you're going to realize that the company that is number one R&D spender of the year is probably where near the top three or five is, in the innovation top. Take, for example, pharma industry. In the pharma industry, they're about three to four companies on the most innovative company list. And then there's probably 12 or 15 of them on the, on the R&D spenders, same for automotive and other industries aerospace. Again, it's a good example. So this is one of the biggest myths that we uncovered, while working with, while working with the companies. The other one was that innovation can't be measured because innovation is about creativity and creativity can't be measured.  Dan: (05:42) Anybody that worked in innovation, either being, employed in a large organization, part of the innovation department, or, had their own startup know that, creativity is probably 1% of, what it means to be successful in the innovation world, the rest 99%. And again, don't quote me on the percentages here, are, the 99% refers to discipline refers to, being methodical in, in your work, being very diligent in your actions and in the follow up to your actions. So again, obviously since we're talking now about a process, processes can be measured so you can measure innovation very well. Another myth is that the success of innovation venture can only be measured once it's in the market. Actually you can measure success or the potential success of innovation ventures very early on. This is how investors live.  Dan: (06:45) This is how VCs companies, exist. The fact that you wait until something is in the market to return a certain dollar amount, it's another form of success. And, some people could see already that success happening early on. Therefore they invest in early stage in that particular startup or in that particular idea, another myth that we found, and this was well, we were researching indicators. People tend to fit that everything is a KPI, right? Everything is a key performance indicator actually. We need to make a distinction between, and everybody that's in business needs to make a distinction between KPIs and the KRIs, key results indicators. The KPI, the ones with the P referring to the performance of the process, the KRI is referred to the outcome of that particular process. So, usually if we want to improve something, we need to understand the process behind it.  Dan: (07:53) Otherwise we won't be able to improve it, say you are a manager. And, I don't know, you're working in a plant, you want to improve, output. You need to understand the process that leads to that particular output increase. if you are working in a bank and you want to increase the revenue, that's great, but, there are many ways for you to increase revenue for once you can just sell the building. Yes, that will increase revenue, definitely. But is that sustainable in the long run? I think that if you don't understand how something is made, you won't be able to improve it. So it's very important for people to pay very, clear attention to how things are being made, the process, the value creation process, if you want, and then start putting measures on top because not everything is a key performance indicator.  Dan: (08:48) Some things are key results indicators, and those are a, results I'm repeating myself here. Those are, that's a result of a process. Obviously we uncovered other things as well, like, all innovation measures, measurements work, successfully for any type of innovation. Again, that's very far from the truth because, depending on the innovation you are doing, you need to adjust the form of indicators you put on top. If you're doing, more sustainable innovation, continuous improvement, different indicators are needed, than in case of an organization that does more disruptive stuff. The indicators need to fit, the purpose and the purpose is to improve something, right. I measure it in order to improve it. I can't just copy the homework from the company across the street. And, again, I can't copy it from, one industry to the other, those need to speak to my reality. Those need to speak to my context and to my circumstances is why I very important to, first of all, define what you wanna measure and why you wanna measure that before you put indicators on top. And obviously these were just like, I let's see half of the myths we uncovered in, in the book. I would encourage people to, you know, pick up the book and find the other myths by themselves. These are the ones that are probably the closest to my heart.  Adam: (10:19) Thanks so much for that, covering those myths for us. And I wanted to kind of help our audience kind of see where you were going. This podcast is for all things affecting. It touches all things, affecting the accounting and finance world. And, you know, your book talks about innovation accounting. So maybe we can start there. What do we talking about when we talk about innovation, accounting, and then we can kind of more dig into it a little bit?  Dan: (10:42) Sure. My pleasure. Just, just so you know, topic that I had my lowest grade in the MBA was, accounting, finance, and accounting. So, yes, I'm in a great position to write the book that it's called innovation, accounting. That recommends me, the, the idea of, of innovation accounting. again, it's not to replace standard or financial accounting in any way. The idea of innovation accounting is to build a system that's fit for purpose. And that purpose is to measure, progress and to measure results in environments that are, high on uncertainty and, environments that are, let's say more volatile than the standard core business, plus environments, where there are no financial metrics to go by. What do I mean by that? There are many companies out there that are successful today, financially that probably for the first five, even 10 years were totally unsuccessful.  Dan: (11:54) However, there were investors that were willing to bat on those, Tesla is one example, Netflix, again, another example, Amazon, it's a very known example of a company that wasn't profitable for, I think at least five years, how however their valuation was through the roof. So, with innovation accounting, we're essentially proposing a complimentary set of metrics to the financial ones that are to be used in the absence of financial metrics, where in the absence of financial results, those metrics are, designed to prove to investors, to prove to decision makers that yes, this particular venture should be considered for growth in the future. You should nurture that you should invest in that further because there is a gold pot waiting on you six months down the line, five years down the line in two years down the line. So basically it takes the guessing out of investing in risky ventures.  Dan: (13:01) And again, it's there to compliment financial accounting. we're not proposing a different set of indicators. We're not proposing to scrap the, the accounting books. We are that actually accountants and innovators work together for the greater good of those particular ideas, be it startup ideas, or be it ideas within an existing organization. There is a research by professor at, New York University, Baruch Lev, and he studied, the way investors take decisions whenever they invested in companies listed at the stock exchange. And, he analyzed data for, I think, 20 years then at least if not 20. And, he concluded that, as the years have gone by the use of finance information for investors as a meaningful way of predicting the company's future has gone down. If, one in three decisions were being taken based on financial results in the nineties.  Dan: (14:09) I think now it's one in 10 being taken solely on, on financial performance. So now investors are looking at alternative sources of information when they wanna place those bats, the stock exchange, yes, some of them actually go to Twitter and see what that particular CEO tweeted about. I'm not saying that's not a good thing to do, but that's probably further from the science than other methods are. So we, this is why we encourage organizations to adopt a system that's able to, present to investors, but also internally the picture of growth over the coming future. Again, in the absence of financial results, we're talking about what's going on in your R&D, we'll actually discontinue that. How many ideas from that particular, innovation hub, can you count on to drive growth in the near future? How does your portfolio distribution look like?  Dan: (15:11) Are you heading to a Kodak moment, right? Are you heading to becoming disruptive in the near future? Are you diverse enough to go through something like COVID, that was totally unexpected, you know, talking about COVID it was very funny because just at the beginning of it, Zoom's valuation was equal to the valuation of all us based airline companies, just, you know, to get an idea, get a sense of, how COVID changed everything. And I was just wondering then how many of the CEOs of those airline companies had ideas in their pipeline three, five years ago that had to do with communication, with self disruption, essentially like, Hey dear CEO, we know that we have a lot of business travelers let's invest in a zoom like idea. I'm wondering if any of the CEOs had that on their, you know, in their pipeline and they willingly discontinue it because of fear of self disruption. I don't think I'll ever get the question to that. The answer to that question.  Adam: (16:20) I don't think you ever will. Definitely not. Yeah. So as I'm thinking about, you know, what you've been saying, you know, the examples you gave of where that applies are very applicable to many businesses, but one of the main things that a lot of companies are realizing, especially with the onset of COVID is they've gotta implement new systems all the time, like, you know, new financial systems, new Zoom systems, Teams, everything, you know, you gotta get all those things together. And so let's maybe, maybe if we can look at, you know, implementing a system, because that's a lot of things we talk about is people need to implement systems all the time. What if we look at implementing a new system, you know, obviously it looks different from company to company, but if we look at the principles that you laid out for innovation, accounting, do you think that you could apply that to implementing a new system? Obviously there are the financial aspect of it and the accountants will take care of that. You know, how much does it cost, but there's other intangibles that I think your principles kind of help out with.  Dan: (17:23) Yeah. So, essentially in the book, we talk exactly about that, about the fact that, the innovation accounting systems should speak to your company and your company needs. Obviously we propose KPIs. We propose what needs to be in the system, but I believe, or actually know from experience that what we propose, will get customized probably at least 30 to 40%, when it gets, when it gets applied because the pharma company is not an airline and the automotive industry is not the banking industry and fast mover, consumer goods are not media companies or telco companies. I mean, no, I'm not kidding myself that we build something that works across the board. However, I think that what we've built is good enough for people to start and, to customize on. What's important is to follow the principles. The tactics will follow, the customization will follow.  Dan: (18:26) So we lay down six principles. First of all, if you are building an innovation accounting system, it needs to be company wide. You should not allow your retail, banking arm to have different measures than your wholesale banking arm. Why? Because at one point, those teams need to talk with each other and the CEO or the CFO needs to have transparency over what's happening in retail, as much as he needs to see what's happening in wholesale. If the indicator is different, you won't be able to compare apples with peaches. So it's very important. That's going to be company wide. So everybody in the company is talking about the same thing. Another very important principle is that the system needs to be able to abstract information. Now, abstracting information means that you take something from the team level and you are taking it through multiple layers and taking it all the way to the executive board.  Dan: (19:24) You don't expect an executive to have time to understand, for example, the learning we're experimenting and velocity of a certain, team. However, they will understand cost of innovation or they will understand time to market, or they will understand average conversion rate of your innovation practice. This is done for abstraction. Plus abstraction for another benefit. It forces you to only track indicators that are connected to water indicators. Cause otherwise if you just track this one indicator and it doesn't do anything, but just show you a number and it's not actionable, it doesn't inform any other layer of the organization. It doesn't have any impact downstream, better not track it. So abstraction is probably, or at least the one that is the closest to my heart. The third principle will have to be around, surfacing intangible assets. The innovation accounting system needs to surface those assets such as cultures, such as skill, such as process.  Dan: (20:28) Again, we started a conversation talking about, about skills and talking about upskilling people and treating them like assets, innovation, accounting, an innovation accounting system should be able to do exactly that. Another thing that again, ties back to our previous company, you know, question, an innovation accounting system needs to highlight the risk of disruption the company is under. It needs to be there flashing that red light guys. We only have this on this core banking product, and we're only living off that. Yes, we can milk that cow for, I don't know how long, but let's not kid ourselves and be honest and say, we only have that one cash cow and there's nothing else in the pipeline. And in case people will stop using credit cards tomorrow, we are screwed. And in case people will stop flying for this tomorrow, we are screwed, right?  Dan: (21:29) That's the role of the innovation accounting system to be there, to warn people or at least, make people pay attention to the fact that disruption might happen. Nobody's saying when it will happen or what form it will take. And even if your company will be affected, but at least, have that warning sign there. That's that's flashing, Hey, you have to do something about it. Obviously, another important principle is that the innovation accounting system needs to help you improve the innovation system. Every company has an innovation system, has processes has a real governance on it. If you are using, we're thinking about deploying innovation, accounting system, that particular outcomes, that particular insight from the innovation accounting system needs to inform how you're going to go about improving your innovation system, being by upskilling people or, hiring other people. We're focusing in one area and not in the other, or deciding to go only for open innovation programs rather than internal innovation, whatever whatever's gonna end up being what's important is that that particular decision for improvements of your innovation system needs to be rooted in data.  Dan: (22:42) And that data can only come from the innovation accounting system. Financial accounting system can help. You can tell you what at the innovation accounting system is doing, but it's taking way too long for you to learn that. And, it doesn't cover everything. So this is why it's important to have an adjacent system running side by side. And lastly, probably again, an important principle to have in mind is that, whenever you're designing your system always consider the key success factors of your industry. Don't design a indicator system without understanding what it takes to win within that industry and starting from what it takes to win. Try to understand what are the indicators that are telling you if you are going to actually win. So it's very important to have that in mind when you build your innovation accounting system,  Adam: (23:39) That makes a lot of sense what you were saying about the principles. And as I'm thinking about that, and as we kind of wrap up our conversation, any initiative needs to be implemented by the people within the organization. You said that if there's an innovation accounting, it needs to be a company wide implementation, you know, so you have the one aspect of change management of getting that implemented, but then the other side of it, how are you able to take all these things that we're learning through different aspects and put it in a format that the leaders of the organization can read and digest? You know, like what, how are we looking at these KPIs or these KRIs and seeing how can, how can they digest those things? Because they have to see the big picture and understand is it actually working? And like you said, it may not, you may not see the results right away. It may take a little bit to see those results,  Dan: (24:28) Right. We usually try to keep things very simple. So top layer indicators for us usually revolve around, time being saved, money being saved, profitability being increased, and revenue being increased. That's it? Those, those four, yes, there might be another one, as I said around disruption. And how likely are you to get disrupted? Do you have a diverse portfolio? That's very qualitative if you want. Yes, it's a quantitative indicator, but it's very qualitative. You can't deposit that into a bank account, right. But what you can deposit in a bank account is profitability, is top line growth, is reduced time to market, reduced time to success. Those are things that obviously you can go and deposit to the bank, diversity of your portfolio, not really but it's good to have a check on that.  Adam: (25:25) So what about the change management and getting everybody involved? Because I can imagine that implementing this on top of everything else that somebody's doing can be overwhelming.  Dan: (25:35) Yeah, of course, no, this is not a job for one person. And, this is, definitely not a job for, for an intern or a summer student. You should actually dedicate a, a good amount, good amount of people to this initiative by good amount. I don't mean hundreds of people, but probably more like four or five people that are full time on this for probably at least a year, I would say, given our experience of having done this with, with banks, with engineering companies typically, yeah, it's like four or five people for about a year and you go going to have the system. But what's very important to remember is that you need to have innovation happening in your organization. You can't talk about let's create an innovation accounting system, but there is nobody working on innovation in our company.  Dan: (26:22) So if you are one of those companies that hasn't yet started the journey on innovation, I would encourage you. First of all, start your journey, do some mistakes, accelerate some teams, invest in the local startup community. Do those early things before you build the innovation accounting system. Innovation accounting is required for organizations that have been at this game for a good amount of time, three, five, even 10 years. They will have a need for that. Starting with innovation accounting day one is just going to be too much of a hustle, putting it together for very little benefit. I would encourage you to spend end that money doing innovation first, before building the system. Now, in terms of who's on the team, try to not having one sided, try not to have it stuffed only with people from innovation, because then they will tend to have an us versus them conversation whenever they refer to the people in finance or control. So I would encourage a cross-functional team that, includes people from HR, people from product, people from innovation, people from finance, obviously, you know, try to consider all aspects of what your organization is doing. Because innovation is not something that is done in a lab is not thing that's done on an island in the sun it's everybody's job. And, by being everybody's job, that should also be reflected in the team. That's putting together an innovation accounting system.  Speaker 4: (27:58) This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives about leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard. And you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.
Feb 28 2022
28 mins
Ep. 171: Larysa Melnychuk - Modern FP&A Trends