It's always a challenge for our Editorial Board to make the final selections for awards, and CPA Practice Advisor's 2012 "40 Under 40," was no exception. We do, however, have the power of hindsight.
This year, we are retroactively adding one more name to the list of professionals that are having a significant impact on the profession. Jamie Sutherland, the President of US Operations for cloud-accounting developer Xero, certainly belongs on the 40... er, 41 Under 40 ... for the work he and his company are doing to make the cloud a better place for small and mid-sized businesses to work.
Here's a little more about him:
Jamie Sutherland, MBA, CFA level 1 -- 38
President, US Operations; Xero
San Francisco, CA
Education: Bachelor Commerce, McGill University; MBA, York University
- Board Director at the Canadian Organization for Development through Education Foundation (CODE)
- Mentor MBA students through the McGill MBA Mentorship Program.
- Charter Member – C100
- Co-Founder & Board Director of TaxiNow
Hobbies: Skiing, Snowboarding, Guitar, Tennis, Costa Rica
How has your company helped accounting firms and small businesses move to cloud computing?
Xero is designed to make the lives of accounting professionals and small businesses easier. It is a full cloud-based double-entry accounting system designed in a way that makes it super easy for accounting professionals to collaborate with their clients online. We are moving thousands of accounting professionals and small businesses to the cloud. We now have over 100,000 paying users on Xero and close to 4,000 accounting professionals across the globe.
How is cloud computing changing the accounting profession, and how concerned are you with the security issues related to cloud computing?
We are hearing less and less about security concerns. More and more accounting professionals understand that there is no difference between banking online and using a cloud application like Xero. Yes, it is very important to do the research on cloud vendors as not all may have the same stringent policies as Xero, but at the end of the day, if you are comfortable banking online, you should be comfortable with cloud accounting.
We are seeing an increasing amount of accounting professionals adopt cloud solutions. The US is definitely waking up to the cloud. Those that are joining the party early are seeing the benefits and are gaining a competitive advantage over others. One of our Xero partners in Utah—Lucid Books—has recently doubled his business and is now operating at an average of 60% profit margin per client. Not only is he growing, but he is becoming more and more profitable as he scales his business. The cloud is game-changing and the more forward-thinking accounting professionals are the early benefactors.
How mobile are you regarding your work? How have mobile devices and apps impacted your productivity and work-life balance?
I could not live without a mobile phone. In fact, I had my first experience without a phone in as long as I can remember when I was at the final round of the US Open. It was really hard. It is become a part of almost every hour of my life. And it is not just about work. I use many apps for both personal and professional reasons. The mobile phone has truly enhanced my life and has also made me infinitely more productive.
Have you found business success via social media, either via recognizable ROI, new customers, marketing or networking?
Tying back social activities to ROI is still a difficult exercise. What I do know is that the more relevant links that are driving to your web site you have, the better opportunity you have of ranking higher on relevant search terms. Google and other search engine’s algorithms are largely based on these links. Social activities are a great way to get the messages you need out to a broad population (and links). Xero is an online property, so we are very conscious of how we perform in search.
It’s also important to get involved with the conversations that your partners and customers are having. They are talking about you online whether you like it or not. Some good, some constructive. It’s always impressive when a vendor can join a conversation and provide value to the discussion. That’s what we try to do.
What tips on social media do you think are essential (but perhaps missed) by professionals?
In our profession, I think it’s still just a matter of getting started. Sign up for twitter, follow some people in our industry and start listening. You don’t necessarily need to post or tweet. You can drive a lot of value by simply listening. Once you are comfortable and understand the basic protocols, you can engage and start tweeting. It’s pretty amazing who you can speak to.
What ONE piece of technology could you absolutely not live without? Why?
iPhone. It is a part of my everyday professional and personal life. From keeping up to date on industry news, locating my next meeting with Google maps, or finding the best lunch spot with Yelp, I couldn’t live without it….well I could…but I certainly wouldn’t want to J.
NOT including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?
Zappos. Tony Hsieh’s dedication to the customer experience is unparalleled. It is Zappo’s marketing strategy. I use Zappos infrequently and I am always blown away by the service. I tell everyone about it…including you today. It’s a great marketing strategy à exceed customer expectations and they’ll tell their friends, family, and colleagues and remain repeat customers.
What sports team/championship event do you absolutely refuse to miss?
- Stanley Cup Playoffs (if there’s a Canadian team in it J)
Do you have a tablet?
Kindle & iPad
What is your favorite professional mobile app, and why?
Yammer. We use this app voraciously inside Xero. Being a global company with 260 employees all over the world you would think it would be hard to stay connected. Not with Yammer. It’s basicially facebook for the enterprise and I think it’s working really well for us.