InTheBlack Day 3: Leadership, Collaboration & Culture


Today’s sessions were packed with practical content to equip us all to build our future with a Continuous Accounting approach, and unleash exceptional accountants through leadership, collaboration, an outstanding culture, and Robotic Process Automation.

Guest Keynote & Leadership Panel with René Carayol

René drove home the importance of culture, collaboration, and inspirational leadership. Uniqueness has become a necessity in today’s disruptive tech culture, and this is created by these three very key areas.

Anyone can copy your strategy, but no one can copy your culture, and yet 80% of companies do not craft their culture. Nothing is best done alone, and great culture creates the space for collaboration. We need the power of the team and not just the team at the top. At the best organizations, leaders are everywhere and this designs an environment of challenging up and supporting down. Good leaders create followers. Great leaders create other leaders.

Here are René’s 7 Steps for Changing Culture:

  1. Hire for attitude as much as skills

  2. Provide “something to belong to”

  3. Acknowledge effort and wins

  4. Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm

  5. Circumstances change, values don’t

  6. Finished beats perfect

  7. Trust your people

What happened next was pure leadership magic. René brought out three powerful women to speak about how to use power for good. Their message was unified in positivity, energy, and a vision for social change. Here are their most inspirational statements about how to impact our world in a time when this matters more than ever before.

Therese Tucker, CEO & Founder of BlackLine

It’s a time of great uncertainty in our country, and individual contribution has never been more important. There is good that we can do, and it is up to the individual to do good where you can find good to be done. Find your passion because that’s what makes life worth living.

Andrea Jung, President & CEO of Grameen

I’ve never felt more lucky to be involved in the work that I do. Through entrepreneurship, our country and our cities heal and grow. Without the right nexus of balance with purpose and doing good, it’s difficult to stay positive and we can only do so much alone. Find like-minded individuals who want to help and create partnerships with them.

Gloria Molina, Los Angeles County Supervisor

I feel very positive about what we need to do and where we are going, and the key is leadership. It’s important to continue to groom leaders for social change – to make and change this world.

When asked for observations she could give during these volatile times: It’s about ownership. “What am I going to do about it?” Everyone needs to feel that they have a role and a responsibility in the solution. Find the ways in which you can provide the ownership that you need to impact change.

7 Habits of Highly Exceptional Accountants

The accounting and finance team at Johnson Controls is passionate about accounting, BlackLine, and company culture. They live by these seven habits to empower their accountants to be exceptional:

**Habit 1: Get Organized
**Detailed schedules add discipline and structure to your financial systems and ensure your accounting stays on track.

**Habit 2: Take Control
**A solid foundation with strong controls and solid processes allows for endless growth and expansion opportunities

**Habit 3: Document
**The individuals preparing and reviewing the task should have a basic understanding of the task purpose and methodologies

**Habit 4: Seek Growth
**Meet strategic and operational goals by creating a high-performance and sustainable organization through talent development.

**Habit 5: Take Ownership
**How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?

**Habit 6: Challenge
**The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

**Habit 7: Automate
**If you can’t eliminate it, automate it. Automation frees up their accountant’s time to focus on more value added work

By operating from these habits, Johnson Controls has learned that highly exceptional accountants hold themselves accountable and incorporate what they’ve learned into continuous improvement. And this has led them to believe that only accountants can save the world through peace, goodwill, and reconciliations.

How Robotic Process Automation Empowers Exceptional Accounting

One of the themes of this year’s conference is that people matter, and in this session, Bart Krijntjes, Solution Delivery Lead of SAP Solutions at BlackLine reminded us that efficiency matters, too. Bart unpacked Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to explain its potential to very positively impact people and accelerate efficiency.

There are many definitions of RPA, and they all agree on this: RPA is based on human intelligence to automate rules-based repetitive tasks. It is evolving but not yet mature, and in its current state, it is advanced automation with simple human intelligence. The goal of BlackLine’s Maturity Model for RPA is complex automation with artificial intelligence. We’ve built driverless cars, so developing RPA for “accountantless” paper pushing is a persuasive possibility as well. Here are four reasons to apply RPA to F&A:

  1. High demand for automation

  2. Structured and harmonized processes

  3. F&A activities are mostly manual

  4. Shift in focus from transactional based to value-adding

All of the new tools and technologies are creating opportunities for advanced automation that will unleash accountants to be exceptional – and that is our overarching goal.