Jennifer Warawa – 2014 40 Under 40 Honoree
Sep. 08, 2014
Jennifer Warawa, CPA.CITP – 38
Vice President & General Manager
Sage Accountant Solutions
To what extent have you and your practice/company embraced cloud computing?
Sage is a company that believes in purposeful innovation, introducing software and solutions to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they have a need for them, rather than innovating for the sake of innovation. Sage prides itself on offering both cloud and on-premises solutions so SMBs may choose the way they want to work. With that in mind, Sage has fully embraced the cloud, and offers many cloud and mobile solutions to help SMBs work smarter and have greater flexibility. This extends to the accounting profession as well. Not only will firms have the flexibility to recommend an on-premises solution, a cloud solution, or a combination of the two based on client preferences, we will soon be introducing a cloud solution specifically created for accounting professionals.
In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it a better place?
I am an active member of the Sage Lawrenceville campus’s Employee Activity Committee, comprised of Sage employees from all aspects of the business, to drive employee engagement. I take my role as a leader within Sage very seriously, and am devoted to empowering my team to challenge themselves and make a difference. I recognize that the way I lead my team impacts them not only during working hours, but in their personal lives as well, so I strive to build my team up so that they feel good about themselves at work and at play.
In what ways do you participate in either the professional community or your local community to help others?
I was team captain of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team at Sage in 2013 and again this year. Unfortunately we live in a world where cancer affects most of us, so it’s important to participate in an event like Relay for Life to raise funds for cancer research. Professionally I’ve been a committee lead for the Information Technology Alliance (ITA) since 2012, an organization that focuses on sharing information and building relationships that improve the way technology professionals, including accountants and CPAs, do business and serve their clients.
What major changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
The greatest change I think we’ll see in the accounting profession is the rapid pace of change, not just around technology, and how firms react to it. For a long time, accountants felt they couldn’t keep up with new technology, and now they’re seeing changing expectations from their clients to factor in. Clients are starting to demand increased engagement from their accountant, as well as deeper insights and action plans. Basically, they see value in partnering with their accountant on a more frequent basis to help them navigate their business direction. In order to keep up, a firm will need to adapt their business model.
How do they do this? First they need to identify how they can add increased value to their clients and secondly, evaluate how they need to change their firm’s business model to support delivering on that value. It’s about positioning themselves as not just as a trusted business advisor, but a trusted, valued business advisor. Being a ‘trusted advisor’ isn’t a competitive differentiator in a profession full of the same; it is becoming more about the value add they can bring to their client relationships.
How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
The accounting profession remains a strong component of the Sage ecosystem, and in order to prepare the profession for the future, Sage has created an entire business unit devoted to providing education and technology to the profession. As we see firms beginning to shift their business models, they need help and support to successfully make the necessary transitions. That’s why we have the Leadership Education for Accounting Professionals program. LEAP not only provides information on important topics such as taxes and compliance, but it also offers courses that will develop the soft skills necessary to take a firm to the next level. In addition, we’re going to continue to look for technology solutions to provide to firms that enable them to build more valuable relationships with their clients, ultimately being able to make a greater contribution to the success of small and mid-size businesses.
What is your career philosophy?
My career philosophy is centered on continuous development. I don’t think anyone is ever ‘done’ when it comes to learning, evolving and getting to the next level. As such, I am always personally and professionally looking to learn, grow, evolve and stretch myself. I believe everyone is capable of greatness so my ultimate career ambition is to not only achieve my fullest potential, but help those on my team do the same.
Not including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?
I have tremendous respect for Amazon. They consistently deliver a great customer experience and while they are loved for their core business and exactly what they do today, they are also continually looking to innovate in new ways. For example, they recently introduced ‘same day delivery’ in a number of US cities. To me this was unexpected, but awesome, all at the same time. They certainly don’t take their success for granted and regularly try to ‘one up’ themselves, which I think is a key to success.
Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.
My mother taught me that anything I dreamed of was within reach. Through her example, she taught me how to be a strong businesswoman by reinventing herself as many times as necessary to support my family. Unfortunately my mother was taken from me way too soon, but through her passing she taught me that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and to not put off until tomorrow what your heart is telling you to do today. This impacts my everyday life as a leader within Sage.
Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 Honorees.