Jamie Sutherland - 2013 40 Under 40 Honoree

Jamie Sutherland — 39
President, Xero U.S.
San Francisco, CA

www.xero.com/us

Education: MBA, Schulich School of Business, York University; Bachelor of Commerce, Finance & International Business, McGill University

Professional Associations/Memberships

  • C100 Charter Member: The C100 is a non-profit, member-driven organization that supports Canadian technology entrepreneurship through mentorship, partnership and investment.
  • Board Director of Center of Development through Education Foundation (CODE): CODE is a 50-year-old organization that works with local organizations in developing countries to empower children to learn. CODE and its partners have been recognized three times with UNESCO International Literacy Awards for their education efforts.
  • McGill University MBA Mentorship Program: Mentors aspiring MBA students from McGill through the McGill MBA Mentorship Program.
  • At Sage, Jamie was an executive supporter for many community initiatives and programs including the Canadian Cancer Society, Earth Day, TechSoup, and Ronald MacDonald House.

Hobbies:

  • Loves skiing -> favorite mountain = Snowbird in Utah
  • Loves surfing -> favorite surf break = Ollie’s Point, Costa Rica
  • Loves tennis -> favorite player = Roger Federer
  • Loves traveling -> lived in Australia for 6 months and traveled through New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore. Visit Costa Rica at least once a year and just got back from Patagonia, Chile.
  • Other interests include spending time with my family and friends, cryptic crosswords, spreadsheets (seriously!), working with other entrepreneurs and cooking.

What are the key areas of your firm that have seen the greatest change in workflow over the past few years? Are you using automated workflow tools? From our vantage point the key workflow shift that we are seeing both accounting professionals and small businesses adopt is daily/weekly bank reconciliation. With Xero, your bank statement lines automatically appear in your software. So not only is time consuming data-entry eliminated, but Xero also allows for daily reconciliation. This provides a real-time view of cashflow, which is game-changing for small businesses and accounting professionals that service those small businesses.

Secondly, there’s a new paradigm of vastly improved interoperability between online applications. Xero is leading the way with its award-winning API. We have over 200 online applications that integrate to Xero to allow seamless flow of information back and forth.

Have you embraced cloud computing for your practice? Are you moving your clients to the cloud? 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 loads of accounting professionals and small businesses to the cloud. We now have over 160,000 paying users on Xero and over 6,500 accounting professionals across the globe.

On a broader scale, how do you see new technologies changing the accounting profession in the near term (3-5 years)? In the accounting software space, it’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow.

More and more small businesses are looking for progressive accounting firms that can help them with online software and services. As a result, accounting firms that aren’t learning the new way of doing business will be left behind.

With online software, efficiency gains are material. From the elimination of data-entry to full management reports that can be built in seconds, Xero is creating more time for accountants to focus on value-add services as opposed to wasted unbillable hours.

Also, the costs and issues with on-premise solutions (environmental, security and upgrades) aren’t issues in the online world. With an online solutions there is:

  • No server hardware maintenance
  • No networking infrastructure maintenance
  • No server operating system maintenance
  • No firewalls to deal with
  • No server support and updates
  • No storage/backups

All that is taken care of by your software vendor(s). With this in mind, in the next 3-5 years, I see a massive shift to cloud solutions in the accounting industry, with early adopters gaining first-mover advantages.

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 remember my first experience without a phone in as long as I can remember. It was at the final round of the US Open where you check your phone at the entrance. 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 and small businesses? 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 single piece of technology do you find the most important in your professional life? My 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…

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: exceed customer expectations and they’ll tell their friends, family and colleagues, and remain repeat customers.

What brand/model mobile phone do you use? iPhone 5

Do you use a tablet for work purposes? No, I use a Mac Air 10 inch. I spend a fair bit of time in spreadsheets and Keynote/PPT. An iPad is limiting with these software.

What is your favorite accounting mobile app, and why? Xero Touch. I use it to capture my expenses while traveling for work. For example, you’re waiting in line at the airport. It’s so simple to take a snapshot of a receipt while waiting, and then have that receipt loaded right into our expense process with the correct account codes. No end of the month rush for getting expenses in for me. I do it throughout the month while waiting in line.

How many monitors do you have on your desktop workstation? 2

 

Read more about this year's 40 Under 40 Honorees.

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