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An Image of John Stokdyk presenting an award at Accounting Excellence
AccountingWEB

John Stokdyk: The accounting dude

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There are some people who leave a lifelong impression on you and John Stokdyk was one of those people, says Tom Dunkerley, chief executive of AccountingWEB and Sift Media.

29th Jun 2023
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When I joined AccountingWEB as a sales executive in 2001, I was new to the accounting sector and media sales. My then boss, Jon Miles, said: ‘You need to meet Mr Stokdyk, he’s the expert around here. He’ll fill you in on what the profession is all about.’ And boy, did he fit that brief. 

The Stokdyk University

During my induction into The Stokdyk University, as it became known, I was blown away by his knowledge, incredible network and understanding of a complex new world – and to be honest, I was also slightly intimidated! 

He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, making introductions and filling me in on the latest changes to the profession (not industry, a bug bear for JS). For the first two years, we’d speak pretty much every morning: “Here’s who you need to speak to Tom and these are the questions you need to ask.” 

Mentor and friend

John was a kind, thoughtful and deeply caring mentor and colleague. He loved to educate, teach and share his incredible know-how. 

Throughout his 24 years at AccountingWEB, he’s helped to develop so many people across all disciplines: editors, marketeers, product development and sales. He made life-long friends and advocates as a result, which has become apparent from the messages we’ve received in recent days, though phone calls, emails, social media and the very personal comments that now run into their hundreds on the editorial team’s tribute to John.

John’s impact

John’s ability to listen, respond and sensitively develop a community approach to publishing was pioneering. He took AccountingWEB from 10,000 to 50,000 members over a five year period. 

Centred on the AnyAnswers forum, hours and hours were spent engaging with and responding to members directly, which in turn created community driven news – the very heart of AccountingWEB’s success and a pioneering approach to content creation back in the early 2000s. 

John was also never afraid to chase the real agenda and tell the truth. On more than one occasion I told John that the story he was going to publish would affect commercial deals, but he never wavered. He always put the audience first. 

He recognised the cloud movement very early on, specifically Xero’s ascent and the move from on-premise to cloud, and was deeply passionate about the positive impact this could (and did) have on the profession. His coverage of the transformational impact technology could have on the profession was a beacon for change. He led the charge with the early adopters and the rest is history. As a result, he was respected by so many and recognised as a change agent. 

Dapper and looking after others

One of John’s greatest professional achievements was launching our awards programme. We sat in a room together in Victoria Street, Bristol, back in 2005 and within two hours we (he) had developed the concept and categories for what is now the Accounting Excellence Awards. Our first event, held at the BAFTA headquarters in London, had just six tables. We’re now at the Roundhouse with 700 people. 

Deeply passionate about celebrating success, he loved award evenings – always dapper, in his unique way. And always there to look after the team, “Drink some water Tom, it’s a long evening ahead!” and he’d be there at the end, to dissect the evening and relay tales of success/woe in his dry comedic way. 

It’s fair to say that over the years, we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. I’d often get a call from John challenging my decisions and offering me a different perspective. I’d always listen and sometimes act on those conversations. I hope John knew how helpful those calls were, they always made me think again. I’ll miss those calls and his candour and honesty. 

He leaves a massive hole in the AccountingWEB and Sift family and I know how much he’ll be missed across the profession. Events just won’t be the same without him walking the halls.

The dude abides

John was a complete ‘dude’ and a genuinely loyal human being, who didn’t take life too seriously. His dulcet Californian tones, laid back style, with hair and moustache to fit, gave him the affectionate nickname (amongst some): The Big Lebowski. 

So, it's fitting to finish my tribute to John, with a quote from the film and reference to Ecclesiastes 1:4, “One generation passes away and another generation comes: but the earth abides”. 

I say to you John “Take it easy dude, I know you will”, to which I know he’d reply, “The dude abides”.

You’ll be missed by many, but never forgotten and long may your legacy live on. Rest in peace John.

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Richard Hattersley
By Richard Hattersley
29th Jun 2023 16:28

If you would like to pay tribute to John, you can leave a comment on the In Memoriam here: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/practice/people/john-stokdyk-in-memoriam

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