Episode 90.5 – Green Apple Slice


Don’t go to school for finance — liberal arts is the future


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss an ATD article, “Don’t go to school for finance — liberal arts is the future” by Abby Jackson.


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    This is John Garrett coming to you with the accountant group leader for Canada at Sage, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: Hey, John. How are you doing?

    John: That was terrible sound effects by me. Every Monday, we sit down and chat about an article that we found online and just have some good laughs and get the week started off with people thinking about culture and engagement and things like that.

    This week was a really good one. It was actually an interview with Mark Cuban who of course is never one to shy away from any controversy whatsoever, just saying what’s on his brain. It was with the Business Insider. Abby Jackson wrote the article. There’s also an interview video. It’s “Don’t Go to School for Finance – Liberal Arts is the Future”. Pretty fancy.

    Rachel: It is pretty fancy. I kind of worked my way up to this position, starting off in data entry and accounts payable and accounting manager controller and stuff. I’m always kind of fascinated by the perspective that some of the top investors and stuff like that – some of the perspective that they have on the business industry.

    What’s really exciting that I think about this whole thing is that in talking about how automation is going to affect different industries in different ways in the future, I love to see different people with different perspectives talking about the same thing. This was pretty enlightening, as well. I think it’s really clear that an increase in automation and technology is going to drastically change many industries. I think that accounting and bookkeeping is definitely one of them, especially if you concentrate on the data-processing piece, right?

    John: Right.

    Rachel: If you’re punching numbers from one place into another place, you probably don’t have to actually be a human to do that. There’s lot of other things that fall under the same guidelines. Then if that is such a large piece of what accountants and bookkeepers do, what are we going to be doing when automation and technology can do that for us?

    Actually, as part of a panel that I was part of with Ron Baker and Ed Kless at Sage Summit Toronto a few weeks ago –

    John: Yeah, the Soul of Enterprise Podcast. That was really good. I was in the audience for that.

    Rachel: Yeah. We were talking about this very thing, and really, it comes down to relationships. It’s about knowing who your clients are, knowing what they need, being able to advise them. One of the biggest things that I can see is that people who know the numbers and understand the numbers but are able to put it into context for their clients and tell them what that means and now how they need to act based on what that means.

    When you’re talking about who we want to be seeing coming through formal education into the industry, that liberal arts piece for me is really important, because they have that different perspective, and they’re able to do that with much better communication, clearly, than I’m displaying right now.

    John: Let me guess who doesn’t have the liberal arts degree. But that’s the thing like you were saying is you need to be the human side. You need to be the improvisational and the critical thinking and all that stuff that the computers and the robots can’t do. They can’t do that. It’s impossible for them to do that. That’s where you need to specialize. That’s where you need to focus.

    He was suggesting English majors, Philosophy majors, Foreign Language majors, people that are a little bit outside the box, those are the people that are able to relate to other humans, which is really important today, even. It’s not even a job of the future.

    Rachel: Oh, yeah. No. For sure. A few weeks ago, I was actually at the Hubdoc head office based in Toronto here which is like a must-have app for any small business or accounting firm. No, they don’t pay me. I just love those guys there. I was having a chat with a guy named Chris who’s on the sales team. He was talking about – he’s like “Don’t listen to me. I’ve got a liberal arts degree.”

    I’m like “Oh, my goodness. Are you kidding? That’s perfect. That’s absolutely perfect.” Because the technology piece, what your app does, all of that stuff can be learned. You can learn how data goes from point A to point B, but you can’t teach people who are really great at relationships and connecting the dots and explaining things well so that people can understand them. I actually thought that that was a huge plus.

    John: Yeah. That’s great. I’m glad that you were there to talk him off the ledge. That’s so cool. What a perfect example in the real world. Just be approaching it with “How can I add value human-to-human?” It’s not in the data entry. Like you said, we all start at the bottom and work our way up, so that’s all we know. It’s important to step out of that for a little bit and just think from a different angle.

    Rachel: For sure.

    John: Yeah. Really awesome, Rachel. Good work.

    Rachel: Thanks.

    John: I think I’ll bring you back next week. How’s that sound?

    Rachel: I don’t know. I’ll check my calendar.

    John: Yeah, but it’s always fun to talk to you again. I’m glad that everything’s going well. We’ll chat again next week.

    Rachel: For sure.

    John: Everyone, if you want to see the article, you can go to greenapplepodcast.com and get a link there. If you’re listening on iTunes or your favorite Android app, if you could leave a review and a five-star rating or something like that, that would really help out, as well as spreading the word. That works.

    Have a great rest of the week, Rachel.

    Rachel: You too, John.

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