Mastering the language of business: A CGMA’s perspective
Hubert Glover’s evolutionary path, like his favorite animal the giraffe, lent him the ability to attain entrepreneurial heights out of reach to others who may only possess the technical skills of an accounting education. Glover went on to obtain a PhD in accounting from Texas A&M University. His professional distinctions include CPA, CGMA, CIA, CRMA, and CRISC. He is currently on the faculty at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. Glover has more than 30 years of management and leadership experience and has been the entrepreneurial catalyst for numerous startups. He serves on various governing boards for professional organizations, exhibiting a passion for volunteerism which he parlays into entrepreneurial success by leveraging the networking and people skills from his communications background.
What led you to choose the giraffe as your favorite animal?
Giraffes are prominently featured in African art. I began to read about them several years ago when I became active in the African-American arts community in Atlanta. The giraffe constantly looks out, not for itself--but for the good of the whole herd. It has amazing powers of sight, hearing, and communication. It rarely fights, but will fight to defend its young or the herd. I see the giraffe as a metaphor for the leadership attributes I aspire to apply in all areas of my life. I collect giraffe artwork and in 2012 I applied the giraffe metaphor to business with my book, Giraffes of Technology: The Making of the 21st-Century Leader.
How does an accountant become an entrepreneur?
First and foremost, if you look at the overall competencies of both a CPA and CGMA, they certainly require you to have a strong functional knowledge of accounting, finance, to some extent economics, and have command of certain quantitative skills. The rest involves behavioral skills. To walk in the room and talk to a multibillion dollar company and convince them that you should be their partner… that has zero to do with debits and credits. That’s understanding how to position yourself and being strategic, and that comes from being very well read and involved.
How do you interpret the management accountant’s leadership role?
Only a few people in most organizations understand and see the whole business—as a management accountant, you’re one of them—and once you know the strengths and weaknesses, you know the faults. That’s why I think you are going to see more management accountants be the leaders, well beyond just being CFOs. And, if they add other capabilities, they can be the CIO, or CEO. To me it’s just a natural evolution.
How do people skills come into play?
I focus on teamwork in the classes I teach. A lot of students initially think about accounting as dealing primarily with numbers. I shatter that opinion early on. Gathering information is not just a technology-based process. It involves talking to the operations people, the HR people, collaborating, and from there you can grow and develop. It is essential to find the passionate energy to collaborate and work with others.
What does passion look like for a management accountant?
The management accountant’s passion is constantly trying to find out ways to use information to elevate the company’s position. Fortune magazine demonstrated this in the late 1990s with the diversity issue. When Fortune found companies that are more inclusive do better in the capital markets, it got people’s attention. That was a fact. There was no emotion, no marching, no “we shall overcome”—none of that. And, behind it were people with financial backgrounds who dug up that information.
What advice do you have for young or aspiring management accountants?
There is an incredible ongoing learning experience to be had by volunteering in the professional organizations. This is where you get a chance to develop additional communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, while applying the technical skills you acquired in school.