How many years have you been working in your field?
Describe what you do.
In a nutshell, I provide vital information to directors to assist them with planning the future of the organization. As an accountant, this involves overseeing the day-to-day financial operations of the organization (deposits, accounts payable, and accounts receivable), ensuring that each expenditure or “sale” gets posted to the correct account. This allows me to develop highly detailed financial statements, product line cost analysis, and other managerial reports to the directors. I am often asked for my opinion on planning decisions based on the financial data I provide.
Describe how you do it.
Since our organization is fairly small (less than 10 employees), I primarily use QuickBooks and Excel to accomplish my responsibilities. Excel is my “best friend” at work, and as an accountant, I would be utterly lost without a strong knowledge of how to use Excel. My reports often involve workbooks with more than 30 sheets and fairly complex formulas.
Describe why you do it.
I enjoy the challenge of taking a pile of numbers and compiling them into layman’s terms in order to direct the course of the organization. What I do allows me to dig into a mess and make it better, to delve into the mystery behind the numbers and solve the problem; I help my organization find ways to reduce spending, to be more efficient, and to plan for the future. Though I spend most of my time behind a computer working with charts and numbers and formulas and paper and not directly investing in people, without me (or someone like me) the organization would eventually fail. I make a difference even behind the scenes.
What was the first step you took to become what you are now?
When I was just a kid (I’m talking 10, 12 years old), I started keeping track of every penny I spent. I had one of those old ledger notepads from Wal-Mart, and I meticulously recorded everything that came in and out of my piggy bank. I still have those ledgers. As a teenager, I played around with Excel in my free time, developing charts and plans for everything from meal-planning to chore lists and more. This was the subconscious beginning of my future accountant self. In college I decided to study business based on the recommendations of my parents, but I had no idea where I wanted to focus. My first semester I took Principles of Accounting I and Introduction to Business. This was my first exposure to accounting, and I loved it. I’ve never looked back.
What do you wish you had paid more attention to in school?
I had high grades, so I paid attention to most everything. What I do wish I had done differently is pursue graduate school and various accounting certifications right after college. Instead, I didn’t want to put any more time into school and thought what I had in the way of education was sufficient. Now, ten years later, I’m in the process of becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and earning my Masters in Accountancy – except I’m having to do all of this while working full-time. Reentering the education world after ten years of being out is so much harder than it would have been if I had entered graduate school right out of college. If you desire to excel in the accounting world, you will need some type of certification (CMA, CPA, CIA, etc.) and you’d be wise to get it sooner than later.