'It's important to be authentic and transparent ...'
From doer to leader: I began my career as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. I left to work for a software company and went on to work in controller roles in smaller companies, progressing to larger, publicly traded companies. In the Raleigh, N.C., market, Red Hat was a logical career progression for me. My biggest challenge over the years has been transitioning from doer to leader. I've always enjoyed reporting, but as I progressed to manager and now leading a global team, I've had to learn to delegate and become a coach and a mentor. Taking on that role didn't come naturally to me. Some of it is about professional development, but it's also about getting outside your comfort zone and learning through experience.
Be authentic and transparent: As a leader, it's important to be authentic and transparent with your team. People can tell when you're putting on an act or pretending to be someone you're not, and that will hinder your effectiveness. Being transparent means you provide context, share your thought process with them, and are honest about any missteps that happen along the way. It will make them feel more engaged and part of the process. Additionally, having open lines of communication, not just with my direct reports but with my whole organization, is very important. I want everyone to feel that they have a voice and that the other leaders and I are listening.
Working effectively with external auditors: Communication and trust are the foundation of success in working with our external auditors. This includes regularly scheduled touch points with the auditors that include representatives from our accounting, tax, and treasury teams. We do this prior to the start of the audit and have regular status meetings during the audit. We then debrief together after the audit to discuss what went well and what didn't, and lessons learned that can be applied to next year's audit. When it comes to building a relationship with auditors, continuity of the audit team is important so that they can learn and understand the business, but also have time to build relationships. Each of us also tries to avoid surprises. That means me giving the auditors a heads-up on potential complex transactions and them giving me a heads-up on potential audit issues.
Always challenge yourself: Someone coming out of college today will likely have many jobs over the course of their career, and what is important is to keep challenging yourself to learn new things. A mentor of mine described this as "continuing to add tools to your toolbelt." By doing this you will keep your skills current and increase your versatility and marketability.
— As told to Lea Hart, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac, the JofA's editorial director, at Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com.