A Day in the Life: Accounting Manager at Stack Overflow

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OK, so it has been waaaaaay too long since we gave you a day in the life of someone who isn’t slaving away at the Big 4. Nearly two years, actually. Sorry about that. It was this idea I had back in 2017 that never really took off because trying to track down accountants with interesting jobs is hard enough, not to mention how tough it is to get them to take five minutes and fill out a stupid survey.

Anyway, today you’re going to meet Katrina Law. Katrina is the accounting manager at Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers. She used to work at a Big 4 firm that shall remain nameless and read Going Concern back when it was still cool.

Here’s what her typical day looks like:

I typically start the day with latte making and going over priorities with my team at the coffee bar. After I get settled in, I like to have things written down on Post-it Notes and displayed at my desk. Working for a tech startup certainly makes my everyday work very interesting and different from other jobs, as it could be a chill day or a fire drill day depending on the deadlines or projects we have going on besides the regular close process. I could be in back-to-back meetings all day for system updates/tax filing/interviewing candidates.

Without further ado, our hard-hitting questions:

iPhone or Android: Android

On an average day, what time do you get up? 7 a.m.

What is your commute like? New York City is expensive; I live 15 miles away with an hour bus ride. At least I get to sleep on the bus.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? Team bonding time – we make lattes together at the coffee bar.

Is there a device, app, or program that you can’t live without? Microsoft Excel – I’m sure 99% of all accountants would agree. 😉

When’s lunch and what are we having? 12 p.m. sharp every day, with different lunch theme served in the office (we have a kitchen and three chefs on site).

What are some things you find yourself doing consistently day after day? Catching up on emails. Sometimes there could be interesting articles or newsletter updates on the software/tools that we are using, but I struggle with taking time out to read and organize them.

What’s the most rewarding part of your day? Throwing away my to-do Post-it Notes as I complete each task – very satisfying!

What’s your desk situation? Cluttered, but I like to have the chart of account/certain FASB guidance printed out and ready near me whenever I need it.

What are some surprises that might pop up during the day you can’t plan for? Billing/payment/close emergencies, as well as the frequent fire alarm testing.

Do you have a “busy season”? Closing out a month end when a team member is out.

Tell us about a recent challenge you were faced with at work and how you addressed it. I recently transitioned a whole process I used to own to three team members. While each of them learned and picked up their own part very well, it is still a learning curve to master a process. During the first month, we had a little hiccup and it took more time than usual to investigate and resolve the issues. Pressure was high as superior was expecting a shorter close given I was getting more help.

I learned two valuable lessons with this experience:

  1. Getting help is essential, but one should treat the first few months as investment.
  2. It is important to give the team enough information on the big picture for them to better understand the process and purpose.

After the first close, I met with everyone to go over the whole process, explain each of their responsibilities, and how their work impacts/benefits each other. After the meeting everyone was able to wrap up the close in record time!

What are some day-to-day tasks you perform that might surprise people? Whenever a non-accounting employee sees it when I am on Excel without my mouse – they think it’s some sort of magic with a simple formula like sumif.

Do you work more in teams or independently? Certainly in teams. The whole accounting team works very closely together to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s very much like clockwork, where one thing holds up the process then everything breaks.

Do you manage anyone? A staff accountant and a payroll coordinator.

Any good in-office perks? Snack bar? Pizza? Massage chairs? On top of the fancy expresso machine that we get to learn how to do latte art, kitchen on site with lunch served every day, unlimited snacks and drinks, ping-pong table, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, I’m proud to say that this is the best office I’ve ever worked at!  

And that’s that. If you have a unique job outside of Big 4 that you think everyone should know about and/or want to brag about your latte art skills, get in touch and we’d love to share your day with the unwashed, miserable masses.

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