Vicki Arthur, CPA
People skills, and more specifically caring about others, is key for CPAs looking to move into management, according to Vicki Arthur, CPA, vice president of Sonoco Protective Solutions in Hartsville.
“A business is nothing more than a collection of people, who build a strategy for serving customers (people), and over time, this collection becomes the culture of a business and drives shareholder investment in what you are doing,” Arthur explained. “You have to move from focusing on yourself as the outcome and focusing on the people that will drive the outcome your business is seeking.”
Arthur has been with Sonoco for 29 years, in a variety of roles including accountant, treasurer, head of sales and general manager. For the past three years she has served as vice president and general manager of three protective packaging business located in Chicago with revenues of about $600 million and 2,000 employees globally. Arthur is responsible for the safety and development of employees, P&L results, and growing the businesses into market leaders in the industries they serve.
The one skill that has been prevalent throughout her career is a keen desire to learn. Arthur also recognizes the importance of relying on others that possess skills and knowledge that she may not. “The truth is success is all about people, hiring, training and developing the best. Your job in management is to help them become all they can be, and in doing this, your company will rise to new levels,” she said. When asked about the key to her success, Arthur points to her background in accounting and finance. “The rigor and discipline you learn from this educational background, coupled with the way it teaches you to search and investigate for the truth, is a critical skill that I believe allows you to be successful in many fields,” she explained.
Arthur believes many CPAs are inherently risk-adverse. They look for how to say no, much more than they look for how might we do this. But if a company is going to thrive, it must take risks and invest in unknown endeavors.
“The CPA brings enormous value to the process by which you mitigate risk and thus increase your chances for success, but they have to be willing to say, ‘maybe’ or ‘let’s explore it,’ first. To me, this means, they need to have a little skin in the game outside of reporting financial results,” she said.