Date posted: 9/11/2018

Young accountants changing the world

Young accountants say the profession has the potential to empower communities and change the world.

In Brief

  • Young accountants say the profession can change the world
  • Accountants should dare to question notions of value and measurements
  • Accountants should also seek to craft multi-dimensional careers

Shelley Cable, Senior Consultant, PwC's Indigenous Consulting
Charlotte Hayes, Chief Financial Officer, Invictus Games Sydney 2018
Priya Singh, General Manager, Enterprise Data and Financial Excellence, Fonterra

Young accountants say the profession has the potential to empower communities and change the world if it can adopt a fresh perspective.

"Accounting can be so much more than we all give it credit for," says Shelley Cable, Senior Consultant, PwC's Indigenous Consulting.

Cable says accountants can have a significantly greater impact on the world if they adopt three principles:

1. Dare to measure what is important

"As accountants we severely limit what we measure," Cable says.

She says the official definition of 'accounting' is to record, analyse and communicate financial information.

But she says accountants should help explain "anything", not just financial information. "Since when do we accountants limit our scope of accounting for one thing?"

Cable says that accountants can start to measure important things such as mental health and climate change.

2. Dare to question notions of value

Cable says accountants also limit notions of value to one opinion. She says there are multiple opinions on value. A mining company, for example, has an opinion on value of a mining asset, but so does the indigenous population.

Too often accountants focus on commercial value because of accounting standards. "Who benefits from choosing that opinion time and time again?" she says. "Commercial value is just one opinion on the value of something – there are thousands of others."

3. Dare to lead the change

Cable says accountants also need to be prepared to lead in the face of significant change.

She says the real role of accountants is at the front leading revolution. "We need to be brave enough to apply what we know in different and brand-new contexts."

Shelley Cable ASA

Shelley Cable ASA, Senior Consultant - PwC's Indigenous Consulting.

Creating a meaningful career

Charlotte Hayes, Chief Financial Officer of Invictus Games Sydney 2018, says accountants need to focus on their 'why' to make a difference to the world but to also create a fulfilling career for themselves.

She says a meaningful career means following a number of principles:

  • work somewhere that makes you happy, that engages you and where you continue to learn
  • connect yourself with people who have your interests at heart, or whom you have their interests at heart
  • choose a purpose rather just a title or pay packet
  • be brave and bold
  • but be vulnerable. Be aware of who might be suffering and who might be overwhelmed, but also recognise when you need to ask for help yourself.

A multi-dimensional career

Priya Singh, General Manager, Enterprise Data and Financial Excellence, Fonterra, says to make a difference, accountants should look differently on the world of work.

To build a meaningful career, accountants should consider having 'no plan'. Instead, they should say 'why not' to new opportunities as they emerge. "Why not is the fuel that will get you started," she says.

Priya Singh

Priya Singh, General Manager, Enterprise Data and Financial Excellence - Fonterra.

Accountants should also look to build a multi-dimensional career encompassing three spheres:

  • work that feeds (puts food on the table)
  • work that feeds the world
  • work that feeds the soul.

But instead of looking for an opportunity that overlaps all three, they should pursue opportunities in all three spheres. Singh says that time, lack of skills and funding don't need to be constraint to exploring opportunities.

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