Interview: Accountant of the Year 2019 Uses Both iNVOiCE FLOW and ORiON17. February 2020
This year‘s winner of the competition Accountant of the Year 2019, which is organized under the tutelage of the Chamber of Certified Accountants and the Union of Accountans of the Czech Republic, is Renáta Pavičová from the company 3E PROJEKT. In the following interview, she talks about what was leading up to her nomination as well as subsequent victory in this prestigious competition. And she will convince you that accounting has long been about not only tables and folders packed full of invoices, but also about software robots and artificial intelligence. We are proud that she uses both the EDI communication solution OriON and iNVOiCE FLOW for automated invoice processing.
How did you get to be nominated as the Accountant of the Year?
It was a big and a very pleasant surprise. I hadn‘t known about the competition and was delighted to be nominated spontaneously by my colleagues. For me, it was a sign of great appreciation for the work we have done at 3E PROJEKT during all those years. Like all other accountants, I often struggle with pressure, deadlines and closings, and I must confess that even the nomination alone literally gave me a new lease of life and an incredible amount of energy.
In your opinion, what was the main reason why it was an accountant from Ostrava who ended up winning the title of the Accountant of the Year?
As the chairman of the jury said, I was the only one in this year‘s edition who was neither a tax advisor nor a certified accountant. On the other hand, I was among the few who were leading such a big team. Another thing that has helped was the fact that the jury verified my references with the colleagues who had nominated me.
What was also interesting for the jury was how far our team at 3E PROJEKT has progressed with the implementation of artificial intelligence in automated invoice data extraction. Personally, I am very grateful for this project and to the management of the company for placing their trust in me when it came to the implementation of these modern tools.
What does the title of the Accountant of the Year mean to you?
It is a great commitment and wonderful motivation for my future work. The title further cemented my resolve to continue modernizing the work of accountants and supporting my colleagues‘ education. It has given me motivation to try to increase the prestige of our profession. I want to help colleagues from other departments to understand our work and to improve mutual cooperation across the company. To also make my accountants better understand business patterns and needs of colleagues from other departments. And vice versa.
How has your career developed?
It started over 25 years ago. I went from being an accounting clerk to working in payroll processing and then all the way to leading my own accounting firm. For several years now, I have been leading the entire division of finance and property at the 3E PROJEKT company in Ostrava. I have spent practically my whole professional life working as an accountant.
When I was starting out, everything was processed manually, the old way. It was perfectly common, but even back then I found the inefficiency mind-numbing. I started to pay attention to innovations and to search for modern solutions. I was lucky right from the beginning, because I was able to put the modern procedures and tools into practice. And this belief in putting an emphasis on a better use of modern tools and increasing the efficiency of the accountants‘ work has been with me ever since.
The truth is that I didn‘t exactly dream of becoming an accountant when I was young. After high school, I spent two years doing my follow-up studies of economics, which is what kickstarted my career in accounting. In 2013, I got my Bachelor‘s degree in the field of Accounting and Taxes.
What do you enjoy the most about your work as an accountant?
I like new challenges, which are part of the turbulent environment in our line of work. One has to be constantly on the alert. What I don‘t like is paperwork and drudgery. I hate it when we‘re wasting my colleagues‘ potential on useless tasks just because „that‘s the way it‘s always been done“. On the contrary, I like to make our work simpler and more transparent. It‘s great when we can offer our colleagues some added value through accounting. Provide them with management reports and documents required for the complex decisions they have to make. Recently, I have been busy with, and, at the same time, challenged by the automation and digitization of accounting within our company.
I‘m motivated by the positive reactions from my colleagues in the accounting office as well as other departments. Change can sometimes hurt and we can encounter resistance to the new ways of doing things, but, in the end, the feedback is always great. And, as a result, accountants gain value in the eyes of their colleagues and shed the reputation of mere pen pushers. This makes it easy for their colleagues to understand their contribution to the company.
Even after all those years in the field, I still enjoy gaining new information and knowledge. I like to keep track of and support further development and education of my team.
What other challenges lie ahead of you and what modern tools are you working on?
I want to continue making work easy for accountants, sales representatives, managers as well as the owners of the company.
We still need to improve our software agent – a piece of software which is capable of machine learning and processing received invoices automatically. Together with the supplier, we are taking steps to teach the artificial intelligence to split invoices based on line items, to share them with colleagues outside the accounting department and, after the invoices have been approved, to import them into the accounting software.
This is going to require adding an order and contract module to the software agent. Our artificial intelligence will create links to contracts on its own and, based on the received invoices, will learn to record deliverables according to the contractual relationships.
Last year I ordered an external audit of my division, and the audit only served to strengthen my belief that, in the coming years, we will have to work even closer with our colleagues, help them develop their skills and motivate them to gain new knowledge.
What other plans do you have for yourself personally?
I would like to become more immersed in the economics of the company, to improve financial planning, and to have even better control over the cash flow. Which is going to require another dose of self-education as well as delegating my current competences and experience as the head of accounting.
This year I definitely want to get the professional certificate of a „certified accountant“ and afterwards become a member of the Chamber of Certified Accountants.
My professional dream is to pass the exam necessary to obtain the certification of a „tax advisor“. However, this will have to wait a few years.
With all of that on your plate, do you have any free time left?
Certainly. I dedicate most of it to my biggest hobby, which is a Bichon Frise kennel called Magical Beauty. I have bred dozens of puppies, but even here I try to do things „a little differently“. I spend a lot of time socializing and training the puppies. For example, we play interactive games, during which the puppies fulfill their tasks and solve puzzles. All of which is done using the modern method of positive reinforcement. And that fills me with energy.
My first goal is to make sure that the dogs are pleasant companions and well-mannered pets. I don‘t care at all about medals or exhibition prizes. Which is perhaps why they come kind of naturally, as a content and well-behaved dog is also a beautiful and successful dog.
Accounting has become my life work, but I know that once I finish the task at hand and fulfill my vision at 3E PROJEKT, I will retire and spend all my time training dogs.
Source: Patriot Magazine Interview (Jaroslav Baďura)