To be honest, there wasn’t a specific moment in my life when I realized that I wanted to become a bookkeeper, let alone a business owner. I guess it was a combination of somewhat conscious decisions and what life brought me. Nevertheless, I’m happy where I am!
Starting out with education
Like any other teenager after high school, there is that big decision to make: what am I going to do for the rest of my life? Math and economics were my thing, numbers and I got a long way better than grammar and languages. So it wasn’t actually that strange that I ended up in Accounting classes. After three years, I had the choice to go to university full-time or part-time. The thought of going to university full-time seemed to be a waste of time. Why not go to school in the evening, work during the day and after the same 4 years I would have my degree and 4 years of work experience? Much more efficient if you ask me!
During the 4 years it took to get my bachelor’s degree in Accounting, I had 2 jobs. First, I worked at my dad’s Accounting firm. I was his first employee and the clients we served were all small businesses. Back then, and yes this is making me feel old, cloud Accounting like QuickBooks wasn’t a thing yet. Each quarter, all of the clients would drop off their binders of receipts and I would enter them into the system (okay, I am not that old, we did have computer systems), manually! Our little office sometimes felt more like a storage closet as there were piles of paperwork everywhere! All in all, it was a great introduction to what work in the Accounting industry would be like.
My second job was at BDO Campsobers, (back then) one of the big 5 Accounting firms after Ernst & Young, KPMG, PWC, Deloitte and Touch. They had an office close to my college and every time my friends and I would bike by on our way to class we would say “one day we will work there”. So after an interview and a skills test, I was hired! I have to admit, a whole new world opened to me. There were dress rules, clock-in and out requirements, floors that were only available to people with certain seniority, and your work was reviewed by at least 3 co-workers each time you completed a file to stay in compliance with the Accounting Association.
After I finished my bachelor’s in Accounting, my supervisor asked if I knew when to start with my Accounting designation. I told him I wasn’t sure yet, because I wasn’t. Did I really want to spend another 3 years studying to still not be able to access all of the floors? It would take me another 10 years to become somewhat close to a Senior Accountant or team lead. That’s a long time. It came as no surprise to anyone at the firm that I was resigning as an accountant at this large firm.
Another fun fact, from my office at BDO I could see the head office of another internationally well-known company. Ballast Nedam is a construction company with multimillion-dollar projects all over the world and 4000 employees. They were looking for a project financial administrator and when I met with the division leader, he asked me why I applied for the job as I was clearly overqualified. I told him that I thought it was a cool company and that I figured if I have my foot in the door other opportunities might come up. He nodded with his approval!
During my time at Ballast Nedam, I learned about internal Accounting, month-end reporting, intercompany accounts, project management and the role of IT in finance. The fun part was actually being part of a team that could make a difference. Doing monthly reporting versus annual financial statements and tax returns was huge. You can course correct immediately and see the results within the next month. Seeing a big company like that with a really low hierarchy was great. I regularly met with the board of directors of the company and the overall CFO. As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, I still appreciate these experiences.
Business Owner, Bookkeeper and CEO at Day2Day Books
The two experiences I described above have formed me mostly in my career. I had a couple of other jobs in between, I even went back to public practice for a bit and even did some courses to become a CPA. I realized that foremost I am a business owner. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, it’s in my blood to create and lead. With my background in Accounting, I have found a perfect combination where I can use my strengths with numbers to help business owners with their business. This is where problems can be solved and profits can be improved. Meeting with clients once a year and providing them with a tax bill just wasn’t my cup of tea. Knowing what accountants need to make their work as efficient as possible, I feel like I can assist both.