N = Numbed by Numbers

I am a numbers person … sort of.  To be more precise, I chose a numbers oriented career without realizing that I wasn’t particularly skilled at “crunching” them.

At some point in my youth, I decided it was a good idea to pursue the highest level of Canadian certification in accounting – a Chartered Accountant**.
I know! … exciting, right?!

I can’t say it was a bad decision.  In hindsight, I had a very good career – although at the time I was focused primarily on just surviving – but over the years, my various bosses would despair over my ambivalence towards numbers.

I could find numbers, I could organize numbers, but I couldn’t “read” the stories they had to tell.  They just didn’t talk to me in any meaningful way.  At best we were nodding acquaintenances – never truly friends.

I had one boss simply sigh one day and say he hoped I didn’t actually tell people I was a Chartered Accountant.  I think it is ironic that I eventually became his successor.

Joanne @ work

1992 – hard at work

While I might have been terrible at “crunching numbers”, I had other talents that luckily for me were recognized and valued.  I had a knack for getting things done and I was particularly talented at wrestling order out of chaos.

At a time when computer use was growing exponentially in business and computer programs were becoming increasingly complex, I was adept at conceptualizing requirements and completing systems conversions.  I was considered an expert in data management, information privacy and security.

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t add 2 numbers together, or that I had a tendency to misplace the decimal point.  If there was something that needed fixing, there was a high probability my phone would ring to investigate the problem. Much like other aspects of my life, I had the chance to play in many different sandboxes with people from the manufacturing floor to the CEO.

Yes – I consider myself a numbers person.  They have a simplicity and elegance to them … I just recommend you double-check my calculations.

N

April A to Z Challenge 2015

** the designation for Chartered Accountant (CA) has since been changed to Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)

Thank you for visiting today.  I hope you enjoy today’s Nanaimo Bars.

Nanaimo-Bars

Image from iadorefood.com

 

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge - 2015, Memories, Random Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to N = Numbed by Numbers

  1. hilarymb says:

    Hi Joanne .. I was useless at numbers, though ended up getting a lower degree than yours .. but I enjoy numbers too .. but cannot read them. So appreciate your story and love that you were successful at what you were doing .. and glad others recognised said fact …

    Nanaimo Bars … they look delicious .. but I would quibble that the town is on the west of BC .. I’d say it’s on the east coast of Vancouver Island .. but I’m a pedant! Cheers Hilary

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      I knew about Nanaimo Bars long before I realized there was a town of Nanaimo! … and I’m grateful to say I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Vancouver Island – including Nanaimo … if only briefly 🙂

      Like

  2. Mrs. P says:

    I think it’s hilarious your calculations were questionable! So lucky of you to have all those other endearing and valuable talents to support those who could crunch numbers but not much else.

    My aunt who I love dearly is also a numbers person…been a CPA for over fifty years…and still works. I do hope she retires this November! 😀

    Like

  3. treerabold says:

    “misplace the decimal point!” I love that.
    You know I am NOT a numbers person….I am a social worker. But I teach people with disabilities to manage their money. The decimal point and I frequently do not get along. I tell my clients all the time…that little dot has a lot of power!!
    I am really enjoying getting to know you through this challenge!

    Like

  4. Alex Hurst says:

    Sounds like you had a job that worked for you. I’m like you…. (not an accountant, though) in that I like the look of them, and I’m very good at fixing things that I can do via tactile methods, but put a list of numbers in front of me and I couldn’t tell you the story.

    Like

  5. I’ve never been great with numbers but you can count on me when it comes to Nanaimo bars…sorry, couldn’t resist.
    Relished the idea that you succeeded the boss who disrespected your skills – sweet!

    Like

  6. bulldog says:

    I love numbers… as a Land Surveyor it was all about figures… now I just love to crash numbers, stats etc… my software I designed is all about number crunching… and the stories? I read them like a book… I love to analysis …

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      I’m curious about the software you developed. Is it related to your work as a surveyor or something different?

      I love numbers too …I was trained based on the philosophy of ‘that which gets measured, gets managed’ but I just can’t bury myself deep into the analysis. I rely heavily on the people who do 🙂

      Like

      • bulldog says:

        My software is for golf course expenditure on the course itself. Course Supers are given huge ammounts of money to keep the course in great presentable condition, but few can say what a feature (green, sandbunker etc) costs. For savings this is a huge criteria. .. my software gives this snd one course that is using it have made a 17% saving after using it for one year…. on a budget of 8 million it is big money…. we don’t have the resources to market internationally unfortunately… as it is unique… and with the golf industry, or clubs, feeling the pinch it would help them all tremendously. .. have a look at terratry.wordpress.com to give you an idea of what it is all about…. the software is loaded with so much to aid the courses and analysis is just so easy…. wish we could find an international partner for it….

        Like

        • joannesisco says:

          I remember you mentioning your Golf software but this is the first time I’ve read about what it actually does!

          I just took a look at your link. In short, it’s activity based costing for landscaping maintenance. I am a huge proponent of ABC but few organizations actually employ it because it’s so complicated to develop.

          Liked by 1 person

          • bulldog says:

            Measuring cost against area often shows, no more than often, wasted expenditure…, so many spend money on making something look good for the sake of aesthetics not for the good of expenditure…. this is the case on most courses. .. we have found that most management have no idea that they are wasting so much time and money on areas merely for the sake of looks…. and so little time and money on the areas that actually matter…. also running older machines that are costing more than what new ones would cost… one course was running miwers at R 204.00 per running hour and when this was shown they invested in the latest technology that cost them R 48.00 per running hour… for a mower that runs for 7 hours a day for half a year pays for itself in no time… number crunching is so enlightening for those that can… for those that can’t..? Should use software like ours…

            Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never been a numbers gal and was lucky enough to marry a man who finds numbers, budgets and finances fun! LOL! I love Nanaimo bars! Thank you very much. 😉

    Like

  8. Heyjude says:

    I am gutted that I never did have a Nanaimo bar when I was on Vancouver Island, so yes please (you do realise that I hold you responsible for my ever-increasing waist-line?) I love numbers. I once started a book-keeping course, but never completed it, and I worked as a cashier a couple of times. I would have adored working with figures. As it is I ended up in IT. Strange world…

    Like

  9. Great post Joanne! My late husband was an accountant for most of his career and the routine work stifled him. Like you, he excelled at the bigger picture stuff including software conversions. I could better understand your challenges because of his experiences with accounting.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      There are some people who prefer to do routine, repetitive type work. Changes are disruptive and disturbing to them. I worked with many people like that.
      … but a lot of people, like your late husband, thrive on change and the day-to-day “maintenance” work IS REALLY STIFLING. I hope he had a chance to exercise his wings once in a while!

      Like

  10. Sue Slaght says:

    It sounds to me like you became invaluable and were creative in finding your strengths. Numbers are definitely NOT my forte. i know that would come at a shocking surprise. 🙂

    Like

  11. See….the problem here is that of course you wouldn’t be good as an accountant….you’re too much of a free spirit for something so constrained! I’m so glad you found a person that really let the inner you come through and oh! doesn’t that sound important? “….an expert in data management, information privacy and security…” You could do alot worse!

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      LOL – my boss and I still had some epic disagreements. I think he would have preferred me to be somewhat less ‘free spirited’ 😉 … I was very fortunate though to have the right boss at the right time!

      One thing I learned very early in my career was to poke around in things that no one else seemed to be paying attention to. More often than not, they were things that needed attention and weren’t getting it. That’s how I ended up starting to tinker with data, privacy, and security. After a while, I became the expert by default… especially when those very things started to become really important.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t know what to make of that Joanne. Not sure sure I want to hand my accounts over to you unless I want them conceptualised. 😕

    Like

  13. My sister in law is an accountant. It is really nice to have someone to turn to when I have any accounting/bookkeeping related questions, and she in turn comes to me with any HR/labor law questions, so it works out!!

    I started out majoring in Business Management… After Accounting 101 and 102 and Managerial Accounting, I was DONE! Good skills to have learned, but I discovered very quickly that I am most definitely not a numbers person 😉

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      It’s interesting you mentioned the connection between HR and Accounting. One of my dearest friends came from HR. There is a very close working relationship between the 2 groups and our friendship grew from that … although admittedly our relationship got even closer when I started working with privacy and security 🙂

      Like

  14. Fun to get to know more about you, Joanne. You are full of wonderful surprises. ❤
    I was terrible at math most of my life, but once Excel came along, I fell in love with numbers and all the lovely things I could do with a spreadsheet. 🙂

    Like

  15. Tim H says:

    I’m an engineer and people often (mistakenly) assume that I’m good at math. Or that I can at least add proficiently. Nope. I’m more about seeing the overall picture, finding what needs to get done, then coercing the right person (who is good at numbers) to do the job. Just because one survived some intensive math classes doesn’t mean that’s their forte.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      AMEN!! That’s exactly the problem and I’m not surprised that engineers get labelled the same way! 🙂

      Having said that, I really want my doctor to have been very good at biology 😉

      Like

  16. NancyTex says:

    I started my career in accounting, and was nearing finishing my CGA before I realized, I HATE ACCOUNTING.

    I find it ironic that years after I turned my back on the profession, I found myself so interested in the story the numbers tell (a skill I have embraced) – and how understanding that story has let me analyze and run my businesses better.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      Interesting! I wouldn’t have pegged you as an accountant!
      At some point I realized that I don’t like repetitive work. Budget, report, analyze, forecast, repeat. Drove me insane.
      Where I was in my happy place was when I found a procedural / process problem, investigated what was causing it and worked on solutions. I wasn’t interested in day-to-day stuff unless it was broken. Then it became interesting.

      Like

  17. I never considered myself a numbers person but after working in administrative positions for years, I decided to increase my worth as an employee by getting a bookkeeping certificate. There is something to seeing those numbers all balance out to zero, but on the other hand, crazy when you can’t get them to and have no idea why. We writers…usually that side of our brain just doesn’t work very well but it seems yours is a bit better than mine, double checked calculations and all!!

    Like

  18. Joe says:

    Great post Joanne and I took a Nanaimo Bar, you’re killing my diet 🙂 By the way did you hear about the constipated mathematician ? He worked it out with a pencil 🙂

    Like

  19. The funny thing about becoming a CA is that it brands you for life. Whenever a numbers problem comes up they look around the room and see a CA and think: “Oh good, we have a CA who can deal with that.” While it worked out for you, I actually regret becoming a CA as it continues to entice me with big money towards things I really dislike doing. By the way, your blog is great and I look forward to reading it every day.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      Charles!! what a wonderful treat to see your name pop up in my mailbox!!
      Of all the people in our cohort, you were the one person I thought would relate to this post. Both of us seemed to play out on the fringes 🙂
      I too regretted the CA route. It creates a label that’s almost impossible to overcome and by the time I reached the VP level, I was ready for meltdown.

      I was very lucky. I got to work for a man – a CA himself – who recognized that I had other talents … and numbers just happened to not be one of them. He gave me carte blanche to create a role for myself saying “I’m confident you will add value”. It was a gift. We didn’t always get along – and we had some epic head-butting – but I owe him big time!!

      Thank you so much for the kind feedback. I discovered – rather late in life – I love to write 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I am with you on the number thing. I can ad them up, can joggle them around, but the don’t speak to me either, there is just no creativity in numbers. Never heard of Nanaimo bars, they look delicious.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      Unfortunately there are some people who are very creative with numbers and I’d like to see more of them go to jail in disgrace :/

      I kind of guessed that all the non-Canadians would scratch their heads at the Nanaimo Bar and wonder what it was 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I’ve never heard of Nanaimo Bars either! Well, Joanne, I took two years of accounting and was pretty good at the debit/credit side of things. I would have made a decent bookkeeper but never an accountant. The P&L and balance sheets never talked to me either. As Bartleby would say, “I would prefer not to.”

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      hahahaha – I like that “I prefer not to” … I think I might use that expression liberally 🙂

      I suspected Nanaimo Bars might be a Canadian thing … a very sweet, delicious Canadian thing 😉

      Like

  22. My Dad was an accountant but went on to teach it at university. Even presented papers at international conferences. I think he was always a bit disappointed none of his children followed his footsteps. When I left uni with a rather useless science degree, he tried to convince me to study accounting subjects to add to my degree to get my CPA. I did two subjects. It nearly killed me. (Quite literally actually, but that’s another story.)

    I had no idea what Nanaimo Bars were so I had to look it up. I thought the filling was kind of like cheesecake and was thinking, YUM! and then I read that it’s actually flavoured butter icing and then I felt sick. Yeah….nnooo, thanks. But at least you didn’t offer a boring old Nice biscuit.

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      Husband – aka Mr Science – would fall all over you and your science degree debating that we need many more people with science degrees 🙂
      He often despairs at his wife whose eyes glaze over at anything science-y.

      I’m guessing your dad was involved in policy and standards? Maybe you’ll tell your accounting stories? 🙂

      I was wondering if Nanaimo Bars were going to translate out of Canada. They’re actually REALLY good … but that just might be my sweet tooth talking 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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