My Education: BA, Psychology, Douglass College, Rutgers University
My Prior Experience: I have held various accounting positions within the same company for over 20 years, starting as an administrator in Accounts Payable and Payroll, then becoming manager of the Accounting dept, and finally moving into Financial Reporting.
My Company: I work in the corporate finance department of a global company offering consulting, technology, and outsourcing services. I work in the Outsourcing division. Outsourcing means that a company (our client) hires us to run one of their internal departments (such as their helpdesk).
Job/Career Overview: I have a number of responsibilities, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and almost all of them involve preparing some kind of financial report. The reports are sometimes used by my manager, but many of them are used by our headquarters in Paris. One of my weekly responsibilities is to prepare a report of all the cash inflows and outflows that have occurred through our bank account. Inflows are payments we've received from clients and outflows are payments we've made for payroll or purchases. I have to provide a detailed analysis of the cash received, breaking it down by amount and by payer.
I also prepare a cash forecast every month which predicts how much cash we'll receive and how much cash we will pay, and this likewise goes to Paris. Again, I need to show these amounts by category (ex: we expect to pay out $20,000 in payroll costs and $10,000 in supplier costs in September). I need to consider normal business operations along with special circumstances when making my forecasts. If my company typically pays bonuses once a year in January, for example, my January payroll forecast has to be higher than in other months. Or if I know that we will be adding a large new account in July and hiring a number of people for this account, then I need to forecast higher payroll costs beginning in July.
More Insights: Be flexible. Recognize that there will be peaks and valleys in your schedule. At times you will be very busy and put in lots of extra hours to meet a deadline, but at other times you will have less to do and can utilize the time for other things. (I'm taking an online Excel class during my slow periods).
I rate this career 9 out of 10.
The best part of my job is working with numbers. I like to be able to analyze reports and to research differences. If two reports are supposed to balance and they don't, there's always a reason and I like trying to find it. I also like the fact that I can plan my day on my own, setting my own priorities.
The worst part about my job is when Paris gives me a deadline for submitting a certain report and they don't take into account U.S. holidays. Paris doesn't celebrate the Fourth of July; so if they want a report on July 4, I need to work on that holiday to get it done.
Be sure that you enjoy paying attention to detail; working with numbers often means getting very detailed. It is not a job where shortcuts can be taken. Also, take accounting courses. A degree in accounting may or may not be a job requirement (for me, it wasn't, because of my job experience), but you need to have a working knowledge of accounting to perform the duties. I went back to school to take accounting classes when I realized that I wanted to be promoted within the organization. Develop a good knowledge of Excel, as it is the basis for so many reports.