When times are good in the Bay Area as they have been generally over the past year, there’s energy in the air. We feel it when we’re working with our clients, and we are feeling it within RoseRyan as well.

We are proud to share some notable achievements in recent months. We ended 2015 blowing past our revenue and our profitability goals, adding many new clients. This was due in part by our continuing expansion in San Francisco, where things are booming and companies on the fast track are turning to us for sage finance advice and to fill the gaps of their resource-strapped teams.

Our proudest moment last year was feeling like we’re getting somewhere in the talent war. It’s tough out here, competition is fierce, but we managed to increase our headcount by 23 percent. Wow. Our current employees raved about us in a confidential survey and earned us a spot on the Top 100 Workplaces list by the Bay Area News Group. And five all-star former employees returned home this summer after spending some time fine-tuning their skills in the corporate world. We’ve warmly dubbed them the “Boomerang Bunch” and are happy to have them back.

A big attraction to RoseRyan, we’ve found, is the fact our culture is so vibrant and real. The four key values that guide our work are very real: a true teamwork approach, being trustworthy, advocating for our clients and the firm, and focusing on excellence in all that we do. Our culture has become a differentiating factor when we look for job candidates and make our case to potential clients. People who work with us like to know they will be in good hands, with collaborative folks who give their all to every project.

While we have successes to report at the start of 2016, there is always room for improvement. These are just three of the many resolutions on our plate this year.

Keep learning: RoseRyan gurus thrive on a challenge and love to stock up on their expertise. It’s one of the reasons people come here—to work on a range of client experiences that keep them engaged and stimulated, and on top of their game.

Within the firm, we have a variety of ways to keep the mental juices flowing, providing opportunities for our consultants to freely share information and tips they pick up in the field. Part of this is due to our camaraderie-focused culture with an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. We also provide classes, workshops and tools for growth, with access to our Technical Accounting Group, which helps both our clients and our employees stay up-to-date on the latest accounting changes and interpretations.

We expect all our consultants to spend a certain number of hours each year on learning and developing not only their technical skills but their soft skills as well. On that note, we are launching a new internal program, Survive & Thrive, to share best practices in the field and the innerworkings of our firm. It’ll also help us onramp new employees into the fold.

Make new friends: Speaking of new employees, we expect to keep hiring in the months ahead. We are looking for stellar finance aces to join our strong team of “A” players. (If you have top accounting chops and operational finance experience to match, Michelle Hickam, our talent manager, would love to connect with you at [email protected].)

We also plan to add to the stable of fast-moving companies we work with in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, continuing to focus on the technology and life sciences field. Every new client has an intriguing financial challenge, and we’re fascinated to fix the next one.

Be open to change: This wonderful firm I co-founded is getting older in age (22 years and counting) and continues to evolve and change. The world around us is shifting at rapid velocity, and we need to move quickly to remain ahead.

One of the changes we have been seeing is the increased acceptance and demand for remote workers. Some job candidates place high on their priority list, for example, the flexibility to work both on site and off site. It minimizes long commutes, helps a family situation or allows a guru to work on a great engagement with a great company that happens to be several hours away from home.

We want to give our clients access to smart minds and excellent resources in finance no matter where they are located. Let’s say we have access to a brilliant finance mind with a particular expertise who is living four states away. We’ll take it! In some cases our clients have been amenable to remote work situations and have embraced it. We will continue to explore the possibilities, including the latest technologies that make it easier (we can thank our tech-savvy clients for that).

Changes and progress all around—it’s an exciting time. We are propelling into 2016 with a renewed sense of purpose and momentum. More than two decades into this fascinating firm, we are really hitting our stride, and I look forward to everything that’s in store for us this year.

Kathy Ryan is the CEO and CFO of RoseRyan. Since co-founding the firm in 1993, she has served as interim CFO at more than 50 companies. She was honored by the San Francisco Business Times in 2015 as one of the most influential women in Bay Area business.

With unemployment figures hovering in the 8 percent range and headline news of a slow economic recovery, it is hard to imagine there is a shortage of qualified accounting talent. And yet, in a recent survey by Robert Half reported in CGMA Magazine, 69 percent of CFOs surveyed reported challenges in finding skilled accounting and finance professionals. We’re seeing this too: many of our clients are struggling to find the right fit for open finance department positions.

I think there are several factors at work here. Companies reacted to the economic downturn by cutting costs significantly, and workforce reductions left the remaining employees in the position of doing more with less. This “temporary condition” has lasted a lot longer than most people anticipated and resulted in burned-out employees, projects on hold, no time or resources devoted to process improvements and little to no talent management or career development.

Top talent drives top performance. When an organization is focused on cost cutting, not growth, it can be challenging to provide sufficient opportunities for building skill sets and providing career advancement. Many organizations claim “people are our most important asset” and yet often fail to act in a way that supports that statement. Although talent isn’t captured on a balance sheet, it is a valuable asset and oftentimes provides the most important competitive advantage.

Here are my suggestions for bridging this talent gap:


Make employee development a priority. Acknowledge that talent management is important and integrate that into your corporate culture. Make this a priority in bad times as well as in good times.

Come up with a plan. Formulate a strategy for developing and retaining talent. (And execute it.)

Talk to employees on a regular basis. Making time for focused 1:1 conversations is not easy, but it is critical to your own success—and theirs.

  • Conversations should focus on what the employee wants in the context of what the organization needs. Help employees clarify what they want, build on strengths, address career liabilities and identify development opportunities for future roles.
  • Determine how engaged your employee is with the organization. What are their drivers for job satisfaction? What makes them feel valued?

Augment in-house talent with outside help. Burning out your people is not in anyone’s best interest. Are there skill-set gaps that can be filled with a consultant? Rather than trying to hire an employee who meets a detailed set of requirements, can you hire a professional who can adapt and learn quickly while augmenting missing skills with consulting help? For instance, it may be more cost-effective to hire an employee who can fill 80 percent of the requirements and use independent expertise on an as-needed basis.


Show interest and initiative. Be engaged with your organization and contribute to its growth and success—and don’t wait to be asked. Employers have little interest in developing or retaining people who show little initiative or interest in the organization’s future.

Grow with the company. Organizations evolve, new tools come to market and regulations keep coming (and changing!). Keep pace with the changes and stay ahead of the curve.

Be proactive about your career. Talk to your manager about what you would like to learn and how you would like to contribute to the organization. Gain agreement about priorities and discuss how to carve out some time to work on new areas while keeping mission-critical tasks on target. What deadlines can slide out a little? What new tools can add operational efficiency?

Take the long view. You may need to put in some extra hours in order to develop new skills. Your payoff is down the road, either in becoming more valuable to your organization (increased pay, bonus potential) or in landing your next job.

Not having the right talent at the right time can cause serious harm to strategic initiatives with delayed projects, missed market opportunities or botched strategic execution. Losing a key resource can derail day-to-day operations until a suitable replacement can be found and can get up to speed. Talent management should be considered part of an enterprise risk management (ERM) program. Don’t have one? Get a good overview in our report, ERM: Not Just for the Big Guys.