In our recent Alumni Spotlight on Bob Simpson, we explore Bob’s experience with the academic changes he believes will better prepare tomorrow’s accounting professionals. Bob is a retired DHG Partner who also received an honorary doctorate from Marshall University where he served as accounting professor and interim business school dean. After our discussion with Bob, we asked Tricia Wilson, DHG Managing Partner of Talent and Leadership, as well as Alumni Executive Sponsor, for her perspectives on the topic.
Tricia, Bob believes that many of today’s accounting grads need broader experiences and greater specialization which would expand their general knowledge and facilitate them developing unique areas of expertise. Do you agree?
Yes, very much so. It used to be, if you had good grades, you had a good shot at being a successful accountant. Today, with so much of the basic accounting work being replaced by artificial intelligence or service centers, we are seeking people who are more relational – people with broad interests, experiences and knowledge – and those who can serve as advisors as well as accountants.
How has this impacted DHG’s recruiting efforts?
First, some things haven’t changed. We always seek technically knowledgeable people. That is a given. I would say what has changed is in the past we might not have been as interested in someone with a GPA below a certain threshold; however, today, if that same person has other attributes, like they speak a second language, or worked their way through school, or played a college sport, they might be more interesting to us as a potential hire than the person with the 3.8 GPA who did little else while in college. Being well-rounded is becoming much more important.
What advice do you have for tomorrow’s accounting professionals?
Take off your blinders and think big. Sure, you first need to get the basics. A solid understanding of business and finance is essential. But success today increasingly requires the drive to learn and relate. When you look at who is most successful – long term – in our business, it is not the people with the highest grades or who attended the most prestigious schools. It is the people who build strong relationships. People with insight and innovation. People who have a drive to understand our clients and their business. People who are passionate about what they do. A broad base of knowledge is essential to these traits, which I feel are critical for tomorrow’s successful accounting professionals.