Accounting & Audit
Jean Rakich, MBA – 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
Oct. 24, 2016
Jean Rakich, MBA
Director, Training, Consulting & Implementation Services
Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting
Bachelors of Science (major Accounting) University of Toledo; MBA from Bowling Green State University
What advice would you give to female college students about the opportunities for women in the accounting profession?
I would advise female college students to work hard and to start to build a professional network. Being able to communicate well in the accounting industry is important and connecting with people is critical. If you can begin to develop these skills while in college, they will transfer easily into the business world once you graduate. Never underestimate having a network of trusted co-workers and a strong mentor. You will need this to be successful in the long term in your career.
What would you suggest to accounting firms that are interested in retaining and advancing more qualified female staff?
I recently read a blog that talked about flexibility being the 2nd most important item to employees after compensation. I believe there is some truth to this as I talk to my team and observe others in the workplace. I think if you can work with your employees to ensure they are feeling comfortable with their work schedule and their home life, you will develop a very valuable employee. I would suggest meeting regularly with your team members so you get to know them and what their work and life challenges are. Understanding and working with your staff on their work load and schedule allows you both to understand the business needs and together you can determine your expectations of them. I would recommend not worrying too much about how they get the work done as long as it is done well and timely. I recently wrote a Thought Leadership Blog about the Generational differences in the Accounting industry that talks about retention and not generalizing staff. This is a hot topic in the industry right now and one I get asked about often when I travel to TR events.
Why did you choose to work in – and stay in – the accounting field?
I chose the accounting field because I enjoy working in the business environment. I enjoyed my accounting classes in high school so pursued it in college. I have stayed in the accounting field because I care about the industry and understand how vital it is to businesses to have reliable financial statements and data so they can make good business decisions. The data and information that accountants provide is the foundation of any business. Once these are solid and dependable, the firms can grow and develop their business and help their clients grow also. I love being able to help both the firms and their clients be successful by ensuring our products and services at TR are relevant and efficient.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading ‘Joy, Inc’ by Richard Sheridan and rereading ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to take Action’ by Simon Sinek. Our teams at TR have studied the Start with Why philosophy for years and shared this with our clients with a lot of success. It is a great concept which has proven to help both internal and external clients.
What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
I see continuous disruptive innovation coming out faster and the firm will be challenged to keep up if they don’t start now. All of the new technology in software and social media can be overwhelming and you need to be sure you are prioritizing and staying relevant. The work force is also changing with baby boomers retiring and younger people being the larger percentage of your firm and the overall workforce. Technology strives to help the firm become more efficient with the day to day work in Operations so that the concentration can be more focused on the other business functions of the firm such as Product & Services Development, Sales & Marketing and Firm Management. These efficiencies allow firms to spend more time with their clients which positively affects their customer experience, which is the future of client retention.
How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
I see myself helping shape the future in my roles as innovation catalyst and Director of the TCIS team. I help plan the strategy of our Education group which includes a lot of consulting beyond the product. In my role as innovation catalyst, I work with cross functional teams to ensure our products and services are helping with our client’s pain points. The client experience is always prevalent in meetings and we have red chairs throughout our building to remind us that the client is always in the room. As I mentioned earlier, I also write a Thought Leadership Blog monthly which has addressed many of the hot topics in the industry such as mentoring, generational differences, change management and strategic execution. My hope is that the items in the blog are relevant and helpful to our clients and that we at TR have solutions to help them with pain points they are going through.
Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped shape the direction or focus of your professional life.
Dr. Diana Wong, Professor at Eastern Michigan University has been instrumental to my personal and professional success. She is a rare and lovely person who actually cares and challenges everyone she meets to be the person they want to be. She encourages me and asks me probing questions to ensure she understands any challenges I am currently going through. She is very generous in giving her time and energy to the community and those she cares about. She has worked with myself and my teams over the last 10 years and we are always better for her input.
Please share a personal rule or principle that you follow. Always be transparent, apologize and mean it when you mess up (because you will) and be passionate about everything you do or don’t bother doing it.
See the other recipients of the 2016 Most Powerful Women in Accounting award.