Business Graduate Accounting Program Orientation

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I was asked to address the graduate accounting cohort orientation last month. The idea was to be practical and prospective. I set-up the talk with identifying four key areas that I believe students should consider as they engage their graduate studies and advance their careers. These four areas are: Integrity, Information, Innovation and International. Below is an abstract of the talk.

I. Integrity - The message here was to always maintain your integrity – integrity is about your value system – it's the things that keep you from crossing the line. It’s that little voice in the back of your mind that says "don’t do it."

  • Ethics which are generally an external system of rules and laws which usually have rewards when we follow the rules and punishments when we break them. Whereas, integrity is an internal system of principles which guides our behavior. The rewards are intrinsic. Integrity is a choice rather than an obligation.
  • Examples of two local federal wire fraud case convictions this past year were presented, and we finished with the developing issues around "Bridgegate" - ironically, Gov. Christie had conducted his 1 hour 49 minute press conference earlier in the day where he identified members of his staff that were dismissed due to a break in the "trust" he placed in them.

II. Information - The message here was our enterprise systems as we know them for storing, retrieving and using information are becoming obsolete. Paul Ontellini, the former CEO of Intel remarked at last year's International Consumer Electronics Show that "we are working at the intersection of the virtual world and the physical world."

  • We should begin considering and understanding the Internet of Things (IoE) - which is the emerging dimension of technology application, deployment and use. This is the area where we all need to become smart, and this is the information environment we'll be working in going forward. We continue to see all sorts of rapid development including everything from Smart Watches, Wi-Fi equipped dog collars, to the autonomous car (driverless).
  • Considering today's smart phone has more processing power than all of NASA when we sent a man to the moon suggests that we need to get very smart on the Internet of Things, and how our future information environment will impact our work and world.

III. Innovation - The message here was innovation is a very misused and misunderstood word. Innovation refers to the process of bringing any new problem solving idea into use - the generation, acceptance and implementation of new ideas, processes, products or services.

  • UPS faced tremendous pressure to cut costs and institute an across-the-board environmental stewardship policy. A team of engineers worked together and eventually implemented a simple rule: eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible. The company cut nearly 100 million minutes of idle time and eliminated 90 million miles from their routes each year. They’re saving on fuel, and they’re better stewards of the environment.
  • Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, one of the most innovative electric cars in the market, is also working (in competition with Google) on an ambitious plan to introduce a driverless car - Musk wants to introduce a vehicle within the next three years that would allow the driver to hand over 90% of the control of the car - and, in his spare time Mr. Musk works on innovative projects such as SolarCity and SpaceX!
  • California Governor Jerry Brown singed a law last year allowing the Mountain View-based Google to test its self-driving cars on the road. Many respected research institutes say autonomous cars will account for up to 75% of vehicles on the road by 2040.
  • Locally, CEO Jeff Smulyan's radio holding company, Emmis Communications Corporation, has found a new innovative way to complete in the challenging radio industry by introducing the NextRadio app.

IV. International - The message here is that we are living in a global economy - our world becomes more competitive each day as it becomes smaller each day. You cannot escape the global marketplace and we need to engage it and embrace it.

  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris said in report published this week that China was on course to surpass the U.S. economy in just three short years.
  • China's cell phone users reached 1.11 billion in 2012. Samsung has been the leader with Apple sitting at #5. As of this past December, Apple has reached an agreement to bring its iPhone to the world's biggest phone carrier, China Mobile.
  • We must get smart on Asia Pacific, South American, Africa and we must understand our careers will be squarely impacted by the global economy.
  • There are significant opportunities to explore global accounting work opportunities with such leaders as Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, KPMG, CapGemni, Accenture, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, in their international offices. Stretch yourself, think global, think out of the box, think international.
  • One Tuesday, I had conducted two international business opportunity calls on Skype - one to Warsaw, Poland and one to Singapore - both from my desk in Indianapolis. Even if you are not physically working abroad, you will find yourself engaging the international market - get smart about it, and take opportunities if they are presented to work on an international assignment, even if right here from your Indianapolis office.

In closing, it's always fun to speak with students and I believe it's important to share our experiences and perspective as we mentor our new graduate accounting cohort. I look forward to supporting them and the program as we move into a new semester of learning and engagement. Best wishes to all students and Dr. Reed Smith as the spring semester begins.