Don’t fear the robots

9.10.2018 Accounting, Article, Careers, General, M.S. in Accounting, School News

Dan Black, Americas Recruiting Leader for EY, shares how innovative mindsets are critical in navigating the ever-evolving world of business.

By Aleasha Vuncannon

Dan Black, Americas Recruiting Leader for EY, visited the Wake Forest School of Business on Aug. 23 to speak to Master’s in Accounting students during their orientation. His advice when looking toward the future? Don’t fear the robots.

“It has never been more important to have more people, more humans, higher thinking and more critical thinking,” said Black. “Technology is freeing you up to do more exciting things.”

Black argued that while robots are automating routine, mundane tasks, they are simultaneously creating opportunities for more impactful work. “More interaction with people, more analysis, more emotional intelligence — candidly those are the exciting parts of the job,” he said. “It’s being able to interact with people, understand their problems and help them get to a solution.”

Drawing from personal and professional experiences, Black spoke at length about disruption and shared with the graduate students that disruption is more about opportunity than a threat to their future careers. He encouraged students to embrace that they are more prepared for the kind of pace facing businesses today than just about anyone they will work with.

“The person sitting across from you – and maybe the bigger salary or more years on their resume – does not experience disruption the same way you do, and it most cases it will be a worse experience,” he said.

Black leads a team of executive, experienced and campus recruiters in solidifying EY member firms’ market leadership position as an employer of choice in North and South America. He has been recruiting MSA students from the School of Business for a number of years and says students complete the program with not only a great technical background but are also well-rounded professionals.

“Between their undergraduate experience and what they experience in the MSA program, they develop great interpersonal skills. They have a real sense for what’s necessary and what’s going to help them be successful in the business world beyond just what they learn in the classroom,” said Black.

It’s a core advantage that recruiters and businesses value in candidates. “The ability to gauge where someone is, that’s more important than ever. There’s never been a bigger time for people who are really good at that interaction piece to showcase that skill set because it has never been more needed,” he added.

In his talk, Black emphasized to students the importance of keeping their focus and not letting the constant change of business thwart their path.

“Now more than ever, who you are and how you go about your day, how you go about your life, the things that are important to you, your orientation, your focus, is more critical than ever. Don’t get swept up in future work gloom and doom. Keep your orientation as your compass.”

For Black, his philosophy is where you go, go with all your heart. In his presentation, he shared how maintaining his service orientation through his work as a volunteer firefighter and a corporate advisory board member for the March of Dimes has kept him focused. “My job has changed wildly in the last couple years alone, but the fact that I can still be true to what it is that’s most important to me has kept me grounded,” he added.

“I think it’s important to develop those flexible skills and I think that’s a reason that many of us are here,” said Maria Paula Vargas (MSA ’19). “Being here and having access to the faculty is what’s going to help develop us and prepare us for our future careers.”

He also shared some of the big trends he is seeing in recruiting talent to EY and how it has changed the organization’s approach to building a workforce for the future. “The reality is we are trying to prepare people for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that are still being invented for problems we haven’t identified yet.” According to Black, the secret weapon in accomplishing this feat lies in the human element.

He cited EY’s wavespace, a global network of growth and innovation centers, as one example of this mindset at work. “This is probably one of the most exciting changes I’ve seen in our industry. We needed to show our clients that we are thinking differently. We don’t have time to solve the problems of today using yesterday’s logic,” he said. “We bring our clients in to brainstorm their issues with people from an array of backgrounds.”

To close out the visit, students received advice from Black about interviewing and how to present themselves for opportunities. He said that it can be tricky because there are certain things one should always do like researching companies and refining resumes, but making it personal is a huge component. According to Black, that’s where the opportunity lies for candidates to stand out.

“Make the interviewer understand you, what makes you different and what makes you a great candidate for the role. The more you can be yourself in a way that allows the employer to see what you’re bringing to the table, the better your chances are because you are being authentic,” he said.

He recommended students look for ways to tailor their resumes, applications and interview responses in ways that highlight what they bring to an organization. “Career services is a wonderful way to go. They will help bring that out of you, they’ll help you showcase that in a very positive way to employers.”

Black reinforced the students’ choice in selecting Wake Forest to pursue their business education. “You have made a phenomenal choice in coming to this program. You are going to have choices to accelerate your career in ways that I never did and the people before you never did.”

Aleasha Vuncannon is a communications/public relations professional based in Asheboro, N.C.