6 minute read
November 17, 2022
6 minute read
BeyondTheBlack—the premier accounting and finance conference—brings together some of the top minds in the industry to discuss hot topics and pressing matters. BlackLine’s solutions focus on automation, efficiency, and optimizing end-to-end accounting processes including the financial close, accounts receivable, and intercompany financial management. Unfortunately, technology can’t solve every issue, and one of those tough current issues is talent. The fact is, we’re facing a global labor shortage and F&A is affected by it like any other industry. So, organizations must be tactical about how to find, acquire, and hold on to talent.
To address this, Charles Carrington (Partner, Deloitte), Stephanie Miller (RVP, S/4HANA Finance Center of Excellence, SAP North America), and Gerohn Lanns (Partner, EY) joined BlackLine’s CAO Patrick Villanova for a panel discussion on hiring and retaining F&A talent in this ongoing climate of shortages and upheaval.
Mr. Villanova opened the discussion by posing the question: when you’re interviewing prospects, what kind of skills are you looking for and what questions do you ask?
Mr. Carrington explained that he likes to ask the candidate about their favorite item on their resume, as it helps to understand what’s important to that person, such as their missions, how they work with teams, their business acumen, and their curiosity. This can be especially helpful when interviewing an early-career candidate who might not have extensive professional experience.
Ms. Miller looks for keys to success and has found that teamwork is an incredibly important aspect. Can the candidate articulate what went well and what didn’t on their team? How did they execute projects and drive success as a team?
Mr. Lanns likes to understand how involved they are in their role and team. If it’s a recent graduate, what activities do they participate in? For this group, GPA isn’t everything, but their experiences matter, even if they’re not necessarily connected to the job. Can you demonstrate that you’re capable of doing other things? With an experienced professional, it’s discovering their experiences during their career and how they’ve tried to improve and adapt, because jobs evolve and change over time.
Mr. Villanova prompted the next round of discussion by asking how hiring has changed pre- and post-pandemic. Interestingly, the panel agreed that recruiting itself hasn’t changed all that much. However, they noted that emphasis has changed because many people are working in hybrid environments. It’s important to know if people can adapt to building and maintaining relationships in that environment, with a lack of organic conversations and collaboration. It’s also critical for managers to understand how people listen and learn. Do they want numbers and facts? Are they more social? Knowing how people get things done makes meetings and hybrid work more productive.
Moving on, the panel discussed the importance of retaining talent. Once you’ve hired and gotten them in the door, how do you keep them?
The panelists offered some excellent insight:
Retention is about your organization. Investing in the careers and development of your people is critical. When you’re in it for the people who are working for you, it makes all the difference.
Understanding what drives the people you’re working with is important, so really listen to what motivates them. For example, maybe someone starts, and they love Excel, but then a few months later, they’re interested in driving new technology. Give them what they need to be successful.
Understand that just because your staff can get their jobs and tasks done, that’s not necessarily a career if they’re not growing and developing. It’s important to build relationships to support employees and have them stick around.
Next, the panel tackled how technology can be used to attract and retain talent. The experts noted that technology isn’t just about having the shiny toys. Accountants don’t get advanced degrees and pass the CPA exam to create pivot tables. These professionals want to advise on the strategy and think critically, and technology that can automate the manual work is key to helping them focus their capacity on the important, strategic work.
In addition, investment in tech can help attract talent because candidates can see that you’re trying to make people’s jobs less manual and allow them to grow in areas that are of interest to them. Tech also lets managers focus their teams by better understanding what customers are buying and doing, and automation provides visibility into that in real time.
To wrap up the panel, Mr. Villanova asked each panelist to provide a parting piece of advice.
Mr. Carrington noted that each person’s career and how they choose to invest in and maximize the value of that one career is very individual. To retain people in your group, you need to understand their mission, what they want to achieve, and how they can get the return on investment for themselves. Then you can help them deliver on that.
Ms. Miller advised the audience to take advantage of your network. Your success is based on the people around you. Your companies have invested in you to build a network, so take the time to meet someone, set up a call, and learn something new.
Mr. Lanns observed that it’s important to value others’ perspectives and opinions. Listen to thoughts on how to improve things. Whether within your organization, or at an event like BeyondTheBlack, you have the opportunity to learn from others and hear so many ideas that can help you in your career.
The opportunity to attend panel discussions with experts in F&A is just one of the many reasons you should attend BeyondTheBlack. It’s not too early to start planning for one of our 2023 events. We hope to see you soon!
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