Joining Practice Talk this week to talk about her academic route into the profession and getting ‘monkeys off her back’ is Rukhsana Adam, the founder of Mirandus Accountants.
On the surface, Adam’s path into accountancy is more unconventional than most. While there is never one set route into the profession, not many accounting careers start with a PhD in physics and social sciences.
For Adam though, this education has been invaluable for her current role. “Doing a PhD is the best training you can have,” she told AccountingWEB. “The beauty about physics is you have to be very good to explain complexity in simple language. I love the idea of having all this complexity and simplifying and explaining it to somebody.”
But before physics and social sciences, accounting was in her life from an early age. At a young age she convinced her father to let her do his books.
She used both disciplines when she entered the corporate world. Since her roles centred on turning businesses around or business development, the obvious next step was to open her own practice.
Adam realised that in order to be successful you have to have a good operation, which is why she took the ready-made TaxAssist option. But within 18 months she branched out from being a franchisee into setting up her own practice Mirandus Accountants.
How does a working day typically start?
Between 6 - 7.30am I think about our strategic direction, cashflow and the business development. Having an MBA teaches you to question the value what you’re doing is adding to your strategy. If it is not adding any value, you're wasting your time. If it is not doing anything, get rid of it.
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So how do you plan this strategic direction?
I've got a book. When I look back at my handwriting it tells me what mood I was in when I was writing. I consider whether we did what we said we were going to do. I look at my handwriting and think 'why did I make that decision? Was it because I was angry?'
What's the first thing you do?
The first ten minutes are to bring the office up. I know from working at big companies that when your boss walks in and he's looking like he's not happy, you think ‘What sort of day am I going to have?’
We have a 10-minute chat about who's working on what, what are the challenges, whether they need any help and what the technical issues are. Once a month we have a proper meeting where we have minutes and who's going to do what. The next month we review if we've actioned what we said we were going to do, and if we didn't, why not.
How do you organise your day?
I have one or two client meetings, which either means new opportunities or going through the accounts with the clients or meeting a client with a funder. More often than not, I have one meeting per day. Towards January I don't like having meetings because I'm in the thick of delivering. There are periods when I think I don't want any meetings, I just want to get down and get the thing done. Besides meeting new clients and meeting existing clients, it is important to go out and to network and meet people. I'd say 60% of my time is spent on fee-earning work.
What time does a typical day finish?
I think a work-life balance is really important. Both of my guys have got young kids. If they are here at 5.45pm I throw them out. It's not fair on their families. I might stay until 6.30pm but then I go home because the day starts early. You can't do anything after that time. Just take a break and have a life.
Would you then check in on your emails when you get home?
I'm a bit silly like that. I remember the "get the monkey off my back" saying from the One Minute books. Once I've dealt with my emails I think that's a monkey off my back. That gives me a free morning. Otherwise, I'd fret about my emails first thing.
Can you remember your first calculator?
I used to do bookkeeping for my dad and we had these calculators in Malawi which were mechanical beasts: you punch the number, pull the handle and it prints out this roll of paper. It was a very noisy beast and heavy to operate. I'll never forget its calculators: blue with a massive red handle and big keys.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.