BONUS | IMA's Young Professional Leadership Experience

January 16, 2020 | 13 Minutes

Each October, IMA offers a small group of select young professionals (under age 33) a first-hand look into the inner workings of our Global Board of Directors and committees. Winners of the Young Professional Leadership Experience have the unique opportunity to attend the Board and committee meetings, meet staff and volunteer leaders, contribute ideas, and gain valuable leadership experience. Over the last few months, we, at Count Me In, held conversations with previous YP Leadership Experience winners. We selected snippets of each conversation to tell the story about what a Young Professional's background looks like, what skills they've recognized as most valuable early in their careers, what leadership in accounting looks like, and what advice they have for future students or Young Professionals. Our guests, in order, are Jayada Samudra, CMA (Finance and Operations Coordinator), Izz Ansari, CMA (Assistant Manager, KPMG Advisory), Tiffany Larsen, CMA (Finance/Accounting Analyst), and Hari Ramasubramanian, CMA (Doctoral student at Michigan State University). Additional information about IMA's Young Professional Leadership Experience can be found in the show notes. Listen now!

IMA's Young Professional Leadership Experience:

Adam: (00:00)
Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA’s podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. Today's episode will be another bonus episode of our IMA focused mini-series. Over the last few months. We've interviewed former IMA, young professional award winners and ask them specific questions about their early careers.
Mitch: (00:22)
Through this episode, we will feature snippets of four different conversations that highlight different aspects of an accounting and finance professionals. Early observations of the industry. Our featured speakers respectively are Jayada Samudra, Izz Ansari, Tiffany Larsen and Hari Ramasubramanian. These young professionals talk to us about their educational background in early starts, vital skills to advancing through their careers, what strong leadership looks like and provide advice for entering into the accounting world. Let's listen now.
Adam: (00:58)
Could you please tell us a little bit about your background and what you're currently working on?
Jayada: (01:04)
Sure, so I would say that the interesting thing about my background would be that I get to have that in two different cultures. One was in India and one was in the United States and I would say it would be in two different ways as I got a blend of accounting and finance. Academically I would start academically. So, I am certified management accountant. I already pursued my CMA two years ago and I would be graduating right now in August with my third masters. I would say it's a blend of two because I started off with my undergraduate in accounting and later on did my first master's in accounting but then moved over to finance to pursue MBA in finance. And right now, I'm graduating with my MS in finance. Right now, I'm working as a graduate assistant in enrollment and admissions where I'm helping, I'm acting as a counselor for the students. I'm helping the enrollment division to budget and forecast the prospective students and how the things I want to work with the incoming freshmen.
Mitch: (02:13)
What role do presentation and effective communication skills play on the job? Is it critical to have these skills at every level in your opinion?
Izz: (02:22)
Yes, actually the truth is that technical skills, while they are very important and we cannot underestimate the importance of those skills, they can only take you to a certain level. After that what really matters is how you present your point because after every time that you have applied your technical skills and Daniel work there, there comes a point when you either have to explain your work to someone or convince someone to see it your way. And that can be both wearable origin phones and mobile phones. It can be in the form of a meeting in which you have to convince, for example, your was or your clients to see it your way or to convince them that what you have done actually reflects the actual scenario or in a written form, which can be in the form of a report where you have to present your findings and justify them also. So just as an example, if I were to go to something from my work, if I am working on a financial one and I have taken some assumptions in my model, I have to later justify them to whatever I've done technically, makes sense, right? In the simplest words, it makes sense. So, it will depend on how well I articulate my thoughts and how well I present them so that they sound justified and convincing to help whoever I'm presenting them to. So yeah, I think that communication and presentation skills really do matter at an end. New York. The second part of your question was, is it a critical skill to have at every level? Oh, well, of course. Because these skills actually make you stand out no matter what level you're at. First of all, it makes you receptive to new ideas and new thoughts, which we generally don't count in effective communication in presented presentation skills, but it actually matters because if you have good communication skills, you're actually also receptive to new ideas. You're actually also a good listener. And Lastly, you also know how to respond well to any situation that comes up, whether it be in a meeting or just, you know, a random hi, hello with a client or something like that. You know, how to respond well to that situation. And that also includes your body language, you know, nonverbal cues that you give with your body when it comes to every level. Well, for example, if you were to talk about the most junior member on a team, he or she has to explain his or her work. Do whoever is supervising him or her when it comes to managers or directors or partners in firms or just, you know, CEOs or CFOs, If you go up to that level they're like walking, talking grants for their company or whatever film they're representing. Right? So even at the level of partners or managers or directors or CEOs or CFOs, at each point of time, and they have to present themselves at their best because they are walking in talking brand for their company or professional firm or whatever they're representing.
Mitch: (05:36)
In your opinion as leadership skills are developed by individuals, if you were someone who is entering a team or on the outside looking in at an accounting team, how do you identify who the leaders are? What are some of those signs of strong leadership within an accounting team?
Tiffany: (05:57)
I think that they trust each other that when there's a problem, when there's a lot of communication, they're asking for advice and thinking through and you can kind of tell for the leaders are because they're kind of the go to person. For example, in my previous job, if someone in finance then in the request to our systems administrator refer for a change, that person would come to me because they knew I'd be able to access, blame the request. In a way they would understand that there were some managers, but trying to talk with the system admin, they weren't affected because they weren't talking the same language. The system admin didn't have a back grounded in accounting. He's really good at it programming. And so, the leaders are those people that people go to for advice that they seek out their knowledge to build their skills. They know that person has different tools that are relevant and all of this is built on trust if there's the culture and you think that by sharing an information, somebody else is going to take your idea, claim it as your own, and they get ahead on your idea. Well, that's not a sign of trust if everybody's helping each other out to get the work done because sometimes you're going to be busier than your colleague. And so, if there's this trust, then one way to get trust is to have a feedback and depending on your relationship with the person or your need, your communication style there, the feedback loop is going to be different. Well this could be like when I was a remote employee, I'd have one on one meetings with my boss two to three times a month. It was just dedicated time for us to talk in private. Other times it will just be a less formal. The conversation, Hey, I'm having this problem, can you help me with. Just make sure it meets your needs. So, one way to be a leader, you've got to listen to others because the good leader doesn't know everything and they, they trust the people around them to be confident. and strong teams, good ideas, it can come from everybody. Or one person will have an idea and they kind of build off each other.
Mitch: (08:38)
Well, it sounds like you have a lot of really interesting perspectives on advancing through the accounting profession. So I'm just curious, if you were to talk with a student or even an accounting professor, maybe someone who is already in the field very early on in their career, what advice or suggestions do you give them in order to effectively advance through their careers? 
Hari: (09:04)
The advice that I have for students is that they should invest in understanding the concepts. I find a lot of students investing time in clearing the exams and completing the course, but they lack a long long-term view of what education should provide them. So, it's not just about clearing the exams on getting a job, that's not the end goal of education. The end goal of education is to improve your ability to think on your own. And that is the reason why in whatever courses I instruct, I ensure that I’m motivating my students by telling them why is a particular concept important or what was the evolution behind the concepts that they learn? I think that was one important skill set that I imbibed as a student and that really helped me to become successful as a student. And I think that is really helping me as a, as a PhD student as well. Because at the end of the day, research is about explaining the real-world phenomenon. You see a real-world phenomenon, what is happening in the real world, and you want to explain why certain thing is happening. Because until you understand why certain thing is happening, you cannot replicate it. So I think that that's very important to understand why certain phenomena happens because then you can then others can learn from it. So that one thing I think is undermined is the fact that you should focus on the conceptual understanding of whatever we are learning. So maybe any subject that you learn but invest in the basics and investing in basics is about reputation. And when you repeat the things again and again and again, that's when you get better clarity. You can't believe when, and I say this, there are a lot of concepts that I have already, learned multiple times. But when I hear a senior professor talk about the same concept and I get a different perspective and I think I'm glad that I attended this session, although I knew this concept, but I did not know that there was this aspect to this concept and that really is a useful thing that I learned. And one of the quotes that I always believed in is the fact that the difference between an amateur and the professional is the fact that an amateur practices till he gets it right. So, once you get it right, you'll say, okay, I'm moving on. But the professional practices till the time he can't get it wrong, which means he practices to such an extent that I know that I cannot do it all.
Announcer: (12:17)
This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at