Remember the Human Side of the Tech Revolution

by Michael D. Colgan, CAE | Apr 23, 2019

This issue shows how the role of the CPA is changing. Training and execution is a must as the profession evolves because your personal evolution doesn’t stop with enhanced technical knowledge. Technology without human oversight and direction loses its value and effectiveness on strategic development, business relationships, and company brand. Ultimately the consumer or client pays for an expected product or service, not the technology behind the scenes. With that in mind, CPAs cannot lose sight of all the components needed to build a successful career and support the success of your firm or company.

CPAs must continue to build relationships. Skills like emotional intelligence, team building, communication, and conflict resolution will be layered onto the technical knowledge that CPAs must acquire. As current and future leaders navigate this evolving frontier, a strong network of professionals facing similar challenges will play a major role in your success.

The PICPA has many opportunities for members to build their network and share ideas on how to navigate today’s business environment. This spring, every chapter offers a chance to meet with your colleagues at chapter annual meetings where new officers are elected, professional milestones are celebrated, and successful CPA candidates are welcomed. Don’t miss your opportunity to talk with leaders in the profession who are all trying to figure out the new definition of success.

In the book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz share their insights on the importance of networking. One piece of advice that resonated with me was, “It takes practice to be a leader, so practice.” Joining committees, planning events, speaking at programs, and writing are all opportunities for members to practice leadership skills in a safe, low-risk environment. The professional team at the PICPA provides support and guidance to hone leadership skills. Our active volunteers can focus on the big picture and learn how to run meetings and events, and then apply those skills seamlessly to running staff meetings and client engagements.

Success in this era is definitely a team sport. As noted in this issue’s “Accounting AI and Machine Learning: Applications and Challenges,” success is going to depend on cooperative efforts with a variety of disciplines. Management skills are going to be tested like never before. How you manage people and projects when everyone comes to the same place every day will not apply now that technology allows our colleagues to work remotely. We need to implement solutions to stay connected, share data, and provide real-time feedback. There is not one right answer on how to adapt our management styles to be effective in a more versatile business environment. But being aware of how your colleagues in the profession are adapting will provide you with the insight necessary to employ appropriate strategies in your company.

Technology may make certain aspects of your work life easier to manage, but what about other aspects of your life? Your health, for instance. You may eventually be employing more robotic tech, but you are not a robot. The PICPA addressed a growing interest in health and wellness this past winter. I hope you were one of the many members who discovered our “Winter Wellness” program to provide support for members trying to stay healthy during the demanding busy season. This program included video demonstrations of quick exercises that can be easily employed in the office (and at your desk) to relieve stress and increase energy. There were also healthy recipes and tips on wise takeout choices. This program definitely resonated with members; many chose to share the information on our social media channels. As a result, we’re going to expand this offering and present these helpful resources all year. Stay healthy and feel free to share our workplace wellness resources with your colleagues (www.picpa.org/wellness).

Change is hard. Adapting is uncomfortable. But the PICPA is here to make things easier and to help you feel more confident as you navigate this technology revolution.  

What else can the PICPA do to aid you in keeping up with the accounting technology revolution?


Michael D. Colgan, CAE, is CEO and executive director of the PICPA. He can be reached at mcolgan@picpa.org.

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