AS an Engineer in my early career, one of the most difficult things for me to accept was that Finance people actually bring considerable value to an organisation. While training as an Engineer in University, the common belief was that Engineers were more mathematical, more logical, more skilled and consequently (most importantly) more valuable than accountants!
However, when I began to work in industry, I soon saw that it was Accountants who decided what investments the Engineers should make, accountants who approved budgets, Accountants who set priorities and ultimately, Accountants who ran the business,
So, as my career progressed into managerial roles, I decided that I needed to pursue a course of Accounting study. I chose the CIMA qualification as this was most closely linked to my industrial background.
Initially, as an Engineer, I found the world of accounting very confusing. Engineers calculated everything to a high level of accurately whereas Accountants spoke of “reliable estimates”, Engineers were usually very focused on the future, whereas accountants spoke of providing a true and fair view of past transactions.
But as my accounting studies progressed I eventually understood how the accountants think. Most importantly I realised that the worlds of Engineering and Finance were inextricably linked. I understood that, in the best interests of the business, it is very important that Accountants and Engineers speak to each other.
In order to understand the impacts of their decisions on the financial results Engineers need to communicate effectively with accountants. Of course accountants need to engage with engineers in order to reliably develop budget estimates and introduce suitable performance controls to manage the business.
Now I provide “Finance for non-Finance” training for Engineers and scientists who wish to develop their management capability. Just like me many years ago, these Engineers and scientists now realise that, without Finance knowledge, it will be very difficult to make the next career step.