Jonny Jacobs CA: The evolving workplace

Jonny Jacobs CA
By Jonny Jacobs CA, Strategy and Transformation Director, pladis Global

12 June 2018

Jonny Jacobs CA, Strategy and Transformation Director at pladis Global, was named ICAS One Young CA 2017. He shares his thoughts on the future of the workplace and how technology is going to change business for good.

What an incredible eight months it has been! I have been asked many times what my key takeaways are so far from the One Young CA experience, but my biggest learning, looking back, is actually the importance of looking forward.

There are two critical assets that we need to understand, maintain and nurture. These are nothing new, but perhaps my observations highlight how the 'future' is much closer than we once thought. The first, obviously, is the technology that is changing our lives and our profession.

We will be grasping the latest versions of these technologies, much as consumers queue up to purchase the latest iPhone.

Setting up an in-house finance team from scratch could certainly look different. Take financial planning, for example. Social media listening could estimate demand, while algorithms smart enough to forecast and scenario plan revenue streams, along with artificial intelligence, could help us learn from the past.

Technology that is slick and end-user focused, combined with digitally native millennials - who will make up half of the workforce in five years’ time - will be actively driving these changes. We will be grasping at the latest versions of these technologies, much as consumers queue up outside the Apple store to purchase the latest iPhone.

Start-ups are growing because they are able to develop and utilise the latest tech with a wonderfully blank sheet of paper. Colleagues who expect instantaneous information will no longer be satisfied with the clunky systems currently found in some established organisations, and will instead gravitate to data-driven business.

From the conversations I have had with finance leaders, established companies are grappling with the challenge of using the latest technology while still running the day job.

Junior talent coming through the ranks will expect employee wellbeing to be higher up on the agenda.

Technology will not replace responsibility, however, and that’s why the second critical asset is people. If every manager was equipped with the right tools and behaviours to get the most out of their teams, how much more would we achieve?

Managers need to stay on top of emerging trends and this will be more important than ever. For example, with one in three UK sick notes driven by mental health, some companies are training their managers on how better to support their team members. Also, junior talent coming through the ranks will expect employee wellbeing to be higher up on the agenda, combined with shorter, more productive working hours.

Managers alone cannot create this positive energy. We know that people perform when they are motivated and a key driver of motivation is having a clear purpose. That might be doing a day job you love or getting involved in other agendas beyond the job specifications.

Without purpose you are not motivated, without motivation you don’t enjoy what you do.

Leading purposeful lives will enable people to flourish, which makes discretionary effort to do the job, well, effortless. Because when we believe in what we do, we will go that extra mile and push ourselves further than we ever felt possible. Live it, breathe it, believe it.

Before I took the position of One Young CA, I would never have dreamed of learning from the world’s leaders at the One Young World summit in Bogota, or sharing my experiences with fellow ICAS members across various forums. But once I found my purpose it all came together.

We all search for our purpose, because without purpose you are not motivated, without motivation you don’t enjoy what you do; and when you don’t enjoy what you do, how can you be great? So go on, find your purpose and be great.


The ICAS One Young CA 2018 will be announced at the Young CAs Summit on 21 June. Secure your place at the event and be the first to find out.

Young CAs Summit 2018

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