Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Francine McKenna (50 of 45)

One of the things I love about my friend, Francine McKenna, author of RE: The Auditors Using the Tools Instead of the Tools Using Me, is that she comes from "outside" the industry. While a fantastic blogger and Twitterer (she's as good as they come when it comes to re-tweets), she has a background working "with" and "for" the "Big Four" so she knows of what she speaks in her blog.

Oh yeah, Francine also has a delicious sense of humor. Get ready to see it in action as she answers the five questions from the Experts in the Industry series:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I write about why the accounting industry is an important component of the global financial system and I’m good at it because I’ve spent twenty-five years being a student of their business model.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I first got hooked on blogs via Gawker Media and then a blog by a bouncer working at a nightclub in New York who got a book contract. I started my blog, re: The Auditors, in late 2006 as a platform for a book about the accounting industry. Blogging has since replaces my interest writing a book. For now. I started using Twitter at the suggestion of @lazerow and @dahowlett, two daring innovators. It’s a very productive tool for redistributing my blog content and adding others who wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in my content to my crazy world.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Oh, I’m a big fan of @allanschoenberg at the CMEGroup, the largest financial futures and options exchange in the world and a Chicago institution. It’s a very traditional business in spite of being very high tech and highly innovative. Allan is bringing boundless energy to their media presence, including Twitter, Facebook, a great website, and coming soon – blogs. It’s also a business which is near and dear to my family as I have two brothers who are exchange members and a sister-in-law who works with Allan on the website side.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
I am a big fan and have enormous respect for Patrick Fitzgerald, our US Attorney based in Chicago. From Scooter Libby to Conrad Black, from Illinois Governor George Ryan to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, he is on the side of right and is wicked smart.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
Not really my style. I’m a leader, not a follower. And I’m not much of a joiner. I’d really rather not talk to anyone. Well, maybe one person at a time. If he or she is smart. I’m actually an introvert with learned extrovert tendencies. So I’m really very shy. And sort of a snob. Been accused of conceit. Anyone who talks to me on Twitter knows they have to draw me out, cajole me, push me to talk, to give my opinion. I really just want to be alone.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
I’m getting a lot of mail and comments on my blog about the “layoffs” in the accounting firms. Well, “layoff” is the wrong word because they are never going to get called back. But, more importantly, I believe that a professional services firm should never have layoffs, unless a cataclysmic event occurs or the business model or business environment changes permanently.

A firm feels pressured to lay off staff because:

  • There’s not enough sales (Duh!)

  • Or they have too many of the wrong people compared to what clients are buying
  • Lack of revenue is most often a sales problem, not a people problem. There is no excuse to cut professionals who are good performers. These firms are solving a leadership problem on the backs of their employees. 

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