It Pays to be Clever with Your Idle Time In 2009, I was engaged to cover for the controller at Dahon North America while she was on leave. It wasn’t known at the time when she would be able return. Without direction, I was tasked to pay the bills, receive containers of bikes from China at landed cost, and manage the cash, payroll, and receivables.
Actually, completing the tasks didn’t take up all eight hours I was engaged to work. So, with my idle time I’d check on the filing, establish a spreadsheet system to provide management with a daily cash management dashboard, and prepared a set of financial statements for executive management in China.
In my third week, I decided to reconcile the bank account for the previous month. The account reconciled rather easily and afterwards I had a look at the general ledger for the month. It seemed there were more than ten payments recorded to major freight carriers each month. In my experience, they generally bill once per week. So, I ordered check images from the bank. On comparison, I found that actual checks were made payable to the private school her child had been attending, petty cash, and even herself. On the books they were recorded to shipping and freight because this expense category was the largest the company had and was less likely to be scrutinized. I went back a month and found more. I went back two years and found even more.
When the analysis was completed the theft was in the range of $85,000. I discussed my findings with the general manager, who notified the CEO. Police detectives were brought in, she was located in Phoenix, arrested, and before trial agreed to a plea that sentenced her to five years in prison. With idle time at home a year later, I decided to Google her name to see what might come up. She had become one of the featured inmates at jailhousebabes.com.
I recall that Dr. David Hon, CEO, was so pleased he instructed Pete Mole, the general manager, to “give this man some money!” Actually, they offered me her job as controller. Dahon eventually became a client of Prime Velo.
Enriching Other Lives Enriches Your Own
After 20 years in the banking and finance industries, I was ready for a change. I had moved into a nice home in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, was recently married and with a small child.
I received a call from Mary Gilmore, director for Computer Career Connection, a local trade school. She was looking for an accounting professor. I met with her and learned a lot about the workers compensation program that then was law in California. Workers injured on the job would receive disability payments up to the time they could return to work. They then would be assigned a vocational counselor who advised them that they would have to be trained in a field other than that in which they were injured.
And so, my job was to train construction workers, auto mechanics, dishwashers, ballet dancers, and grocery clerks to become working bookkeepers. I was to provide them with a full Accounting 101 program that included weekly tests over the course of the twelve week program. I was to graduate them and provide assurance that they would be competent bookkeepers and junior accountants. To maintain its license issued by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Vocational Education, my graduates would have to be employable and maintain their jobs a year later. The school didn’t give out jobs handed to them by local employers, students had to earn their employment.
In four years, I graduated 300 students in Accounting.
In my entire working career I had never earned less. And never felt more enriched than when a graduating student came back into the classroom to tell me that she had been promoted and how she loves her job.
If You Don’t Belong to Anything, Where is Your Commitment to the Profession?
I became member of the Institute of Management Accountants, San Gabriel Valley Chapter, in 2001. IMA is an international organization of tax and financial management accountants who certifies qualifying members with certification, which is recognized worldwide. In my second year I became Administrative Vice President and a year later president. I am now a five year president. Our chapter focuses on local college students majoring in Accounting by bringing speakers of interest to our monthly technical meetings. We provide scholarships, attend banquets honoring students, and are presenters at “meet the firms” programs. Our annual computer seminar programs are well attended and provide career professionals and students alike with training from real world accountants in a work like setting.
This is very rewarding work.
Something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Barbara Bowlby, manager of the Inland Empire branch of Robert Half International (the highly recognized recruiting service for accountants) had told me that when a new client completes their application and presents their resume to her, she always goes to the bottom of the page first. She looks for their professional affiliations. If none are listed, she tells them to get professional organizations to which they are members on to their resume. If told they don’t belong to anything, she throws an application for membership to IMA at them and tells them to come back when they’ve completed it. She scolds them by saying, “If you don’t belong to anything, where is your commitment to the profession!”
This of course holds true for whatever profession you represent. Being a part of the IMA leadership has brought me great pride. And clients, too!