Caleb L. Jenkins, CQP
Leader of Cloud Accounting
RLJ Financial Services, Inc.
1. Aside from the accounting websites, which blog/website do you consider a must-read?
- I typically browse through the Wall Street Journal and Google Finance most days to learn what is happening in the world and in the financial markets. In regards to accounting websites, I continually love the content that is published on Karbon Editions. I’ve also really like the information that is published through Disney Talking Points. Finally, I’m someone who loves to be connected to those who are making a difference in the world, so I read lots of blogs and email updates on a regular basis from my friends and colleagues who are serving around the world.
2. In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it better?
- “Caleb has sought out new cutting edge technologies to make both our firm and our clients to be able to take advantage of the power of the cloud to automate their accounting operations. This both helps our firm to be more profitable and it increases our capacity so that we can add value to our clients.” ~ Randy Jenkins, CEO of RLJ Financial Services, Inc.
3. In what ways do you participate in the professional community to change/improve the accounting profession?
- One of the ways that I love to participate in the accounting profession is to help my colleagues think of ways that they can give back to their community in a way that aligns with their Vision, Mission, & Purpose. One of my core beliefs is that when you find a way to give back in a way that aligns with your Vision/Mission/Purpose you’ll feel fulfilled in many ways.
4. In what ways do you participate in your local community to help others?
- One of the many ways that I try to give back to others is through the SALT Program in developing countries like Haiti, Ghana, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cambodia, Uganda, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. One of the reasons that I love to work with the SALT program is that I believe we can make a difference by looking at poverty through different lenses than we would typically approach it. This is because poverty is so much more than just material need. Poverty goes to the core of our human existence because it is based on our emotional needs, our psychological needs, and our material needs. In one sense, we are all in poverty helping others in their poverty. You can read more about my specific involvement with this program in Accounting Today, Insightful Accountant, & Receipt Bank.
5. What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
- One of the biggest changes that I foresee coming to the accounting profession is a total disruption by artificial intelligence (AI) through cognitive assistants like IBM’s Watson. I think this will totally change what we know the professions to be as of today. The firms that will survive this disruption will be those that shift to being agents of small business transformation. However, the firms that will thrive will be those whose purpose and action is to actively make a difference in the world through their Vision, Mission, and Purpose. These will be the firms that find a way to give back to their community in primarily non-material ways and encourage their team members to fulfill their personal vision by giving back to the community.
6. How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
- As one of the youngest QuickBooks ProAdvisors, and the youngest ProAdvisor to ever become Certified at age 16, I have a unique opportunity to encourage professionals in the accounting profession to transition from the old way of doing things to the new & improved ways of the future. While some may see me as an inspiration due to my accomplishments at a young age, I primarily see myself as a professional to come beside other professionals and encourage them to find ways to radically impact the accounting profession in many ways beyond what I can ever hope to do.
7. What is your career philosophy?
- I’m passionate about using every moment available to make a difference in the lives of those that I serve. If I’m not adding value to those I serve then I need to reexamine my goals and the steps I’m taking to achieve those goals. I believe that the right kind of value can only be accomplished through the human relationships we have with those we serve. Incidentally, human relationships is the space that artificial intelligence (AI) will never be able to interact in and should never interact in. I believe that the areas that will never be and should never be automated through AI are the specific areas that we should focus our career and our firm on which will help us survive the coming disruption by AI. Then when we purpose to go beyond the “Trusted Advisor” role to the “Difference Maker” role, we will shift from just surviving the coming disruption to thriving by riding the surge.
8. Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.
- This is one of the hardest questions to answer because there are many people who deserve being mentioned for being a mentor in my life. For example, there is my Father, Randy Jenkins, who mentored me from the beginning of my career when I started working for him in January 2009. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities that he has given to me. Then there’s Joe Woodard who I’ve learned so much from and am incredibly privileged to call a very special friend. However, I want to focus on a hero of mine that died in 1945 many years before I was born. Eric Liddell was a Scottish athlete who competed in the 1924 Olympics and won a Gold medal in the 400 meter race and a Bronze medal in the 200 meter race. When those around Eric criticized him for his convictions that caused him to withdraw from the 100 meter race, his best opportunity for a gold medal, he persevered on with faith that instead helped him win medals in the 400 and 200 meter races when he had only tried out for the 100 meter races. As a young boy reading about Eric Liddell, I was always amazed by the way that Eric displayed courage, determination, and perseverance in the midst of deafening pressure and criticism. After winning the gold and bronze medals in the 1924 Olympics, Eric made another decision to not take the glory or pride of his wins to himself but instead decided to go to China to serve the Chinese people through teaching and being a mentor to the young men and women he taught. The lesson to me through Eric’s life is that when things seem impossible we should keep on persevering and then we step back and let the impossible happen. Then the second lesson to me from Eric’s life is that when the impossible happens, we should never take that glory to ourselves and become proud at our accomplishments but instead use that as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.