When you’re a CPA, people don’t typically question the details of your job. They hear “accountant” and…make assumptions. Mention you’re a CEO, on the other hand, and people want to know more. Wow, they say. How did you get there? What do you do all day?
In many ways, my journey from CPA to CEO feels logical. But there were many curveballs and learning moments along the way. Here are the top three differences between life as an accountant and life as a CEO.
For the first 15 years of my career, I had structure. I knew what was required as a CPA — after all, there was usually a checklist that would determine how to prioritize my day.
As a CEO, a slew of new and unexpected items can appear on my radar at any moment. It was tough at first not to have that structure, but the CEO role requires a willingness to improvise and adapt.
As an accountant, your output is always numbers-based. As a CEO you’re obviously still responsible for the numbers, but the most important part is actually highlighting stories around the numbers.
This was something that I had to get used to at first. When we were raising capital for Gappify, we had great data points showing that we were progressing well as a business. So I put together slides with charts and graphs, demonstrating how we were outperforming specific industry benchmarks. I would get them in front of investors and…crickets.
I quickly learned that it’s not just about the numbers — it’s also about communicating the numbers in a clear, compelling, inspiring manner. Making data exciting is a skill and an art I’ve had to learn along the way.
In accounting, everything is based around the rules you have to follow; the quality of your work is evaluated on whether you did things right or wrong. I joke that “creative accounting” is an expletive in accounting.
As a CEO, however, creativity is necessary. When you’re building strategies and ideating about going to market — there’s simply no standard conventional playbook for that. For the first time in my career, those creative skills have been let out of the box. While it was initially challenging, it’s now one of my favorite parts of the job.
CEO at Gappify
Gappify, founded in 2016, is a cloud-based provider of accrual automation solutions for mid-market and enterprise accounting teams. The company is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Berkeley, California, Washington DC, and Manila, Philippines.
Its team consists of accountants and CPA’s from Big Four accounting firms and software innovators. Gappify is also supported by strategic advisors from some of the world’s most recognized technology companies and is affiliated with the top companies & accounting organizations.
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