From the Oct. 2009 Issue
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his poem, Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur.
As each generation is uniquely defined by particular cultural values and beliefs, the environment in which we work also changes. Not too long ago, the perennial model of a full day at the office led to flexible schedules and job sharing. Waiting overnight for a delivery has morphed into just a few seconds of time to send an e-mail.
Now in its fourth year, The CPA Technology Advisor’s 40 Under 40 features a wide range of CPAs, accountants, tax professionals and others who work alongside these professionals. These are up-and-comers – the ones who should actively participate in their firm’s succession plan.
While each of the 40 have quite a bit to say about a wide range of topics, the Boomers have just as much to teach Gen-X, Gen-Y and the Millennial generation. That’s why we put together a roundtable of senior accounting professionals to provide observations, advice and a bit of wisdom to those in the younger generations.
Participating in the 40 Under 40 roundtable are:
- Debi Gellenbeck; chief operating officer; Rea & Associates, Inc. (www.reacpa.com); New Philadelphia, Ohio;
- E. Lynn Nichols, CPA; president; Mares Nichols CPE, Inc. (www.maresnicholscpe.com); New Castle, Penn.; and
- Edward M. Polansky, CPA, PFS; executive partner, San Antonio; Weaver and Tidwell (www.weaverandtidwell.com); San Antonio, Texas.
It would be trite to say the accounting profession changes from one generation to the next. We know that; what’s more interesting is how it changes for the better – and even for the worse. One note: While putting this together, it was suggested more than once that what we really need is a “50 Under 50” list, a “60 Under 60” list and, well, you get the point.
Scott Cytron: Gen-X, Gen-Y and Millennials use technology to accomplish many firm-related engagements and tasks that previously were done manually. What is the one component of practice management you believe you can’t accomplish through technology?
Debi Gellenbeck: In today’s world of e-mail, instant messaging and social media, traditional communication can be lost. Because some people are so accustomed to answering questions and relating to people using electronic devices, it totally escapes them that their message could be misconstrued. It has become a rare occasion to reach a person directly by phone, but being able to converse vocally allows you to hear what they mean. Vocal tone, inflection, hesitation and other indicators we have relied on in the past help establish relationships and prevent misinterpretations. All of the quick means of being responsive have their place, but they will never replace a real conversation, either by phone or face-to-face.
Lynn Nichols: Here are two for consideration: 1) Motivation and mentoring of associates, and 2) Managing client relationships. As to motivation/mentoring of associates, technology cannot provide the human contact necessary for the mentor/manager to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the associate in order to guide, direct, correct and motivate to “take it to the next level.”