Cecile Bonino-Liti (CB), Principal, Global Engagement at IFAC, spoke with Heather Smith (HS), a colourful and inspiring "accounting apps hype girl," founder of ANISE Consulting, YouTuber and 100% digital practice owner/nomad, who makes being a modern accountant look easy.
CB: This year's International Women's Day theme is "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". Describe how digitalization has empowered you?
HS: Digitalization enables me space for lifelong learning, thinking, creating and working on exciting projects with people worldwide. I host the Cloud Stories podcast, and through that digital platform, I've met and had conversations with industry leaders whom I may otherwise not have had the opportunity to. Through online networks, including the Xero Mastermind group I founded, I've connected with other like-minded individuals and groups, enhancing my professional and social support networks.
CB: You're both a CA ANZ and ACCA qualified accountant. How has accountancy education helped you to reach your goal(s)?
HS: At an early age, I realized accounting was an international language, and my education has allowed me to travel the world, helping small businesses and, in turn, their community. By age thirty, I'd lived and worked across four continents. As a digital nomad, I work 100% remotely and travel extensively, speaking at conferences worldwide. My practice fits in my lovely Italian leather handbag. I can be anywhere, and my clients can be anywhere.
CB: You are wearing several hats, including mentoring. Why is mentoring other women important to you?
HS: Often, there's a gender imbalance on the accounting conference stage. I actively collaborate with organizers to source and nurture diverse female speakers. Mentoring other women is essential to me because they have a unique perspective, and it helps to promote diversity and inclusivity in the accounting industry. I've always been keen to share insights of my lived experience, particularly if it can help a mentee's career trajectory. I've been actively doing this throughout my career, and tables have turned and I'm grateful that some mentees are now offer me exciting opportunities.
CB: Who or what inspires you?
HS: People who lead with kindness, work hard and embrace integrity.
CB: What is your "superpower"?
HS: The Japanese have a concept called Ikigai which refers to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living. I love writing. I love Accounting and AccounTech. I gratefully sit at the Ikigai inflection point, where my profession, passion, vocation, and mission intersect. I use my superpower of explanation to educate the profession about technology and modern accounting practices. I do this through many channels, including ACCA and CA ANZ educational programmes, social media, and writing, including my latest book Xero for Dummies.
CB: You are also a woman with passions. What does work-life balance look like to you? How do you maintain it? How do you strike a work-life balance?
HS: Find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life! I do what I call worcations: mixing work with vacations, so when I travel to work events, I take extra long vacations. I’m lined up to speak about accounting at conferences across Australia, USA and Asia this year, so I have a fantastic year ahead. On a daily basis, Chester, my border collie, is an engaging and chaotic companion who demands long walks in the morning and encourages me to take mini breaks during the day.
CB: What is your advice for young professionals, or women looking for a career change, who are considering a career in the accountancy profession?
HS: Accounting offers many interesting and diverse careers, and the freedom to work remotely while being well-paid is a bonus! If you’re considering a career change, look at the accounting apps that service the industries you're familiar with, learn them, and connect to businesses that service the niche industry so that you can enter the profession with your specialist knowledge.
CB: What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
HS: After learning the hard way, I lead with kindness and embrace firm personal and professional boundaries. If a toxic person or situation makes you uncomfortable, seek help. Friends, doctors, or professional associations may have resources to assist and support you. Likewise, If you see someone bullied, reach out to them.
Disclaimer : The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of IFAC or SSBs.