3 ways to go beyond expectations

by Kimberly N. Ellison-Taylor, CPA, CGMA, - Chairman, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

This past year, there’s really one word I’ve used to describe the times we live in: extraordinary. New political climates, changing business environments and demographic shifts have quickly and significantly altered the world around us. And at the center of it all is an unprecedented era of technological innovation. People, businesses and governments are challenged to keep up.

Change is a constant, so more will come in 2018. The only difference is that it will get faster and more disruptive. Already, we’ve caught a glimpse of what we can expect. Earlier this year, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show. Companies of all sizes introduced a wide range of new products featuring AI voice assistant technology, including home appliances, cars, televisions, wearables and almost everything in between. Gone are the days where simply being “smart” was enough. Now, we expect everyday devices to do more – to also talk to us and customize responses based on our personal preferences. We can only imagine what will come next.

These extraordinary times demand extraordinary vision – and action. To remain indispensable to our clients and businesses, we must move further and faster. We must be bold, and we must go beyond in everything we do to exceed expectations.

Here are three ways I challenge all of us to Go Beyond:

  1. Go Beyond tradition.

    The greatest success has come from those who challenged themselves to think differently. That’s why 72% of companies are actively disrupting themselves according to a 2017 KPMG survey. And why we, too, must push past the boundaries of yesterday. Our profession has a long history of evolving to meet changing times and market demands. Now it’s our turn.

    Use technology to enhance the quality of your services, whether you work in finance, audit, tax, planning or any other specialized area. Demonstrate the value of your expertise in new and highly demanded service areas such as cybersecurity risk management, integrated reporting, and sustainability assurance. Consider what your clients and businesses will need in five or ten years and start providing it now.

  2. Go Beyond your comfort zone.

    Capitalizing on new technologies and services requires new skills. That can be unsettling, especially for those of us mid-career. We find comfort in the skills that led to our current success. But to maintain success throughout a career spanning 40 or 50 years requires an agile mindset.

    According to the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills considered important today will have changed by 2020. More importance will be placed on higher-order competencies such as data analytics, critical thinking and decision-making. And those skills will likely change again by 2025 and again by 2030. We must continue learning, unlearning and relearning skills needed to meet these fast-changing demands. So this year, build the competencies of the future. Enhance your understanding of technology. Become an expert in a specialized area. Invest in your future by investing in yourself.

  3. Go Beyond accountability.

    One of my favorite sayings is, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Most of us likely remember a teacher, manager or mentor who helped shape us as professionals. Now it’s our turn to open the world of possibilities for the next generation.

    I decided to become an accountant when I was 8 years old because someone told me that accountants manage money. Of course, accounting opens the door to so many other amazing opportunities. Simply raising awareness of them can make a profound difference in attracting the next generation of talent. If you get that opportunity, take it.

    We must also foster workplace cultures that support younger professionals and address their unique needs. Encourage colleagues pursuing the CPA or CGMA. Challenge them and inspire them to be curious, to learn, to grow, to be bold. Coach them and give them opportunity. Because the younger generations -- they are our succession plan.

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the unified voice of the American Institute of CPAs and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, will be there to help you go beyond. We’ll continue to advance the future of audit and finance. We’ll enhance learning opportunities through the CGMA Store and the new Human Intelligence learning series. We will remain focused on providing guidance and resources in emerging service areas such as cybersecurity risk management and sustainability assurance. And we’ll keep challenging ourselves to go beyond as well. Together, we will create a brighter future for ourselves and those we serve.