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Are You Mentor Material?

Remember when you were a rookie in your career? Maybe you had a mentor who gave you some key advice or that extra vote of confidence you needed when making a choice along your career path. I’m hopeful you still have a mentor, even if you’ve reached a level of success in your career. Maybe you never had a mentor, but at times sure wished you’d had someone to listen to your questions and support your career! Maybe you have years of experience and the knowledge to help someone else who is new to your industry. Are you ready to be a mentor? Are you Mentor Material?

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have to know all the answers. Being a mentor doesn’t mean jumping in with your advice and expectations or telling a newbie what to do. Mentors provide guidance and insight to their mentees. No need to be at the pinnacle of your career. You probably have more to offer than you think.

  1. Be Committed. If you are helping someone, you must be committed to doing so and to putting in the time to make the relationship work; for the long-term.
  2. Have Integrity. You must be respected and respectable to be a good mentor. Be an honest person. It’s the way to be – even if you’re not a mentor!
  3. Be engaged. Hey, you can’t be a mentor just because it “sounds” like the right thing to do. Be present in the life of your mentee. This will be a personal relationship with give and take, a lot of listening, and showing support. You’ll need to be engaged in the relationship.
  4. Be open to sharing. Yes, you need listen, but also be willing to share. Your ups and downs will help your mentee navigate their challenges. There is no perfectly smooth ride in anyone’s career. Be willing to share your mistakes and falls, those are great lessons for your mentee as well.

Being a mentor requires diligence. Commit to meeting regularly with your mentee and navigating the relationship and sticking with the progress. You’ll find you “get” just as much as you “give” – probably more!

Are You Mentor Material?

Data Analytics and Accounting

Most accounting professionals are familiar with data analytics, but few are equipped to use data analytics to generate business insights. CFOs recognize that this specialized area offers the opportunity to really drill down into the numbers and uncover patterns that could help predict potential market fluctuations, how the company reacts to those fluctuations, better understand company profitability, or even uncover fraud.

The right person for this job is trained in the use of big data analytical tools and has the ability to spot those emerging patterns - and interpret them. Today more data is available than ever. Uncovering meaningful patterns in the mountains of data requires specialized training.

Take for example, the use of data analytics to uncover fraud in a national call center. Forensic accountants used a well-known test called Benford’s Law to examine the refunds issued by operators. Benford’s Law says that in any list of financial transactions the number one should occur 30.1% of the time and each successive number less than that all the way down to the number nine occurring just under 5% of the time. When the refunds issued were examined, an unusually high number of fours appeared among a few operators. It turns out that company policy required supervisor approval for refunds of more than $50. With spikes in the number of refunds issued just below that threshold the accountants were able to identify a handful of operators who had issued fraudulent refunds to themselves, friends, and family totaling several hundred thousand dollars. That’s a lot of $40 refunds. But, before running the Benford analysis, neither the company nor its auditors had evidence of a problem.

Data analysis is very different from accounting or financial reporting. With the advent of “big data,” getting to the key facts quickly is even more challenging, and ending up with timely and accurate reporting depends on how well you can sift through the numbers without wasting time and effort.

Those fascinated by mathematical patterns and statistics, and with an interest in applying information to better business decisions, the data analytics profession could be very rewarding.

Data Analytics and Accounting