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The Global Accountant

By ALEX C. ENG, CMA, CFM, CPA
August 1, 2017
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During my career, I’ve often been asked the following question: “Who are you looking for in this position, and do you think I have what it takes to be successful?” The answer gets more complex as the needs of organizations continue to evolve and the competition for both talent and opportunity faces new challenges. Many managers, including myself, usually throw out a series of answers, trying to weave the following terms into coherent sentences: competence, agility, teamwork, culture, M&A, debits and credits, and the like.

 

More recently, I’ve attempted to summarize all this into one term: The Global Accountant. Before your mind starts envisioning a wall covered by the likes of Rand McNally, this meaning isn’t necessarily centered in geography. Rather, today’s accountant is an individual of multiple financial competencies, able to create value for the business by leading a team of stakeholders to embrace diversity, foster efficacy, and understand that in our mergers and acquisitions (M&A) environment it’s much more than just debits and credits that matter. The Global Accountant thinks outside traditional education, builds a reliable network of advisors, and possesses capacity to lead and close deals. These accountants are educators, instilling the virtues of management information systems in our next generation, whether in lecture halls or through my three-year-old’s iPad. Most importantly, they understand accounting is actually not about the spreadsheet but rather its underlying assumptions—including how to maximize rates of return as a business leader and discern the various impacts on each stakeholder through emotional intelligence. Did I just mention EI? Yes. Today’s Global Accountant is adept at discourse amid chaos or, said simply, knows how to rally the team during a close and have everyone depart knowing their best efforts and ideas saved the day.

 

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet, seek, and work with the best financial talent for many organizations, including Fortune 100s and local small and medium-size enterprises. Presented with a solid set of foundational knowledge and skill set, in every case The Global Accountant (or potential for it) wins over almost everything else I see on a résumé. Many job candidates arrive as credentialed professionals, like the premier CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). Many also come from public practice, eager to fully extend their potential in the next stage of their career. All understand that they are about to embark on a journey rooted in value creation, both professionally and personally, and one of their top benchmarks for succeeding in the position is the enrichment of lives in their new corporate home.

 

Would you call yourself The Global Accountant? Think about that the next time you interview for a position or take stock of where your career is headed.

 

I invite you to share your thoughts with me on this or any other topic at aeng@imanet.org.

 

 

Alex C. Eng, CMA, CFM, CPA, Esq., is Chair of the IMA Global Board of Directors and vice president, U.S. Corporate Finance at EDF Renewable Energy.
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