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How to become an accounting disruptor

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She may come from a small village in the Eastern Cape, but Stanford University MBA graduate and international business strategist Zipho Sikhakhane says the path to success is paved with disruption.

“I’m a big disruptor – every day I ask myself how I make myself irrelevant. I have a bias towards action, because if I can end up in analysis paralysis, or waiting for someone else to make a move. I am always looking for patterns to disrupt,” she told delegates at the Saiba Quickbooks event in Sandton on Wednesday.

Stanford University MBA graduate and international business strategist Zipho Sikhakhane

The event was held to launch a new guide for accountants embracing a digital future. The guide, Developing a Digital Plan for the SA Accountancy Industry, predicts the accounting profession will undergo radical digital transformation over the next 3-5 years, rendering obsolete many routine accounting functions such as basic journal entries.

“A lot of people are resistant to embracing tech because they may make a mistake, or it might fail,” said Sikhakhane. “Look at the big disruptors of our age, such as Amazon, Airbnb, Google and Uber. Most of these didn’t exist a few years ago. Now they have come to dominate their markets, and they did this by daring to challenge the status quo.”

The legendary former head of General Electric Jack Welch wrote that “if the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight.”

“So the solution is not outside. It lies inside you,” said Sikhakhane. “You have to change your mindset on leadership.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says if you are going to do large-scale invention you have to be willing to do three things: “You must be willing to fail, you have to be willing to think long term, and you have to be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time. Complaining isn’t a strategy.”

Accountants had to be willing to embrace the digital revolution or else it would seep them aside, said Sikhakhane. Sitting on the sidelines or waiting for someone else to make the first move would be likewise fatal.