Is there a good way for accounting and finance professionals to handle stress? Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, CGMA, the founder and managing director of IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC, in Honolulu, struggled with this concept awhile back until a friend tipped him off to the practice of meditation. Now, Shimamoto takes time out of his very busy schedule to breathe, be mindful and contemplate his surroundings.
In addition to founding his 16-year-old consultancy, Shimamoto is an author and speaker, and a recognized expert in information technology management and business intelligence ingenuity. His firm helps small and middle-market businesses employ strategic technologies, enabling them to grow and innovate. Shimamoto was the first Certified Information Technology Professional in the State of Hawaii.
Here is what Shimamoto had to say about his work, his meditation, and what he’s learned along the way.
What does IntrapriseTechKnowlogies offer that is unique to a CPA firm?
We help other organizations mature, and accelerate their innovation and excellence in their business practices. We help them to standardize and understand what it means to have properly functioning business processes, and to have good data to make decisions. The CPA and CGMA part comes in because we look at risk—not just financial risk, but overall enterprise risk—and we help mitigate the risks by adapting internal control best practices to our clients’ businesses.
What has been your biggest challenge in running your company?
The biggest challenge has probably been finding the right talent, especially being headquartered in Hawaii. We have a fairly limited talent pool. But now we’re expanding to San Jose and Houston, so are able to draw from a larger base of talent.
What is your personal role within your company?
I have two primary jobs. One is business development, so I travel to speak at different conferences, and make people aware of what we do. And secondly, I get things unstuck internally and for clients. As people encounter roadblocks or speed bumps along the way with projects, I’m the one figuring out what they need to do to be able to keep moving forward without compromising the quality of work.
You are recognized as an IT management expert. Why is your role critical in helping companies, and how has that changed over the years?
Technology now is a foundational element in all organizations. Previously, it would have been a competitive differentiator, but now it is part of the very fabric of the organization. You could not imagine an organization not operating on technology somehow today. What we do is not just about the technology, but how the technology supports business strategy and the desired business model.
What is the value of the CGMA designation, in your opinion?
Prior to obtaining the CGMA, I was seen primarily as a technical or IT specialist. I got the CGMA to help show I was broader than that. That’s what the CGMA represents—not just the accounting element, but the things that go into all of the other aspects that are needed to create a successful business, such as leadership, communication skills, decision support.
Outside of your professional life, what are your passions?
Currently one of my biggest passions is learning to be more mindful. Part of it is being present in the here and now, and ensuring that you are appreciating everything that is going on now rather than worrying about the future or worrying about mistakes you made in the past. A good friend of mine, another CPA, CGMA, introduced me to the whole mindfulness practice. I was in a period of high stress. And part of being mindful is meditation—taking that step back, away from everything that is going on or pulling you, and just letting yourself be a little more open to understand what you are feeling. I meditate two to three times a week.
How does meditation help you both in your professional life and personal life?
Our charge as CPAs is to ensure we are always objective, and part of that objectivity is to remove our personal biases from the information that we present and the decisions we may be facilitating. Mindfulness helps with that and forces you to take a step back and see what is really happening and why you are feeling a particular way.
What are some of the mistaken beliefs about meditation?
One of the common misconceptions is it is this “nothingness,” which initially made it unappealing to me. I didn’t want to think about nothing. That was the hugest misconception. You can walk on the beach, or sometimes walk around the park. You can go hiking and can meditate at the same time, focusing on the sound of birds, or the wind blowing through the trees or the noises that your footsteps are causing. Meditation is learning to appreciate that without any fear or other negative type of perception.
What advice would you give to young accounting and financial professionals based on your experiences?
Figure out how the mix of your passions and your profession can blend and really serve you the best. A lot of people feel you have to separate work and life, but it is really the blending of the two that have helped me be the most successful. Also, one of the most important skills is actually listening and appreciating what others are saying. It’s the human relational element that a lot of accountants often forget about.