If the rash of post-scandal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley was the equivalent of painting a big red bull's-eye on every finance exec in the land, books like Steven M. Bragg's Controller's Guide: Roles and Responsibilities for the First Years are the equivalent of Kevlar. Written with the wet-behind-the-ears controller in mind, it explains the position's role within the corporation, discusses generally accepted accounting principles and delves in internal accounting.
With a firm grasp on the basics of managing both a company's accounting and its accounting department, the ever-more-confident controller can then move on to learning about various types of costing and analysis, investor relations, internal audits, dealing with the dreaded audit committee, staffing, and tax issues. For the truly ambitious, there's even discussion of the globalization of business and the attendant difficulties of international strategy.
John Wiley & Sons
Warts and all
This may come as a shock to some, but there is a general perception outside accounting that careers in the profession are, well, dull. This image problem is, in part, responsible for the current dearth of new blood, despite the explosive demand for services and the fact that accounting has come a long way from the days of gartered and eyeshaded bean counters.
One effective weapon in battling the public's unfair impression of the tedium of accounting is The Vault Career Guide to Accounting, an unbiased, unvarnished source of information for those considering, or just beginning, a career in number-crunching that clearly lays out the rewards and vibrancy of the profession. Give a copy to the next bright teenager or college freshman you meet.
Price: $29.95. Available as a PDF for download, or in paperback.
Kennedy and Marshall
When John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that we would pay any price and bear any burden, Gen. George C. Marshall had already anticipated him - by about 20 years. It was Marshall, after all, who mobilized and guided the American armies that fought and won W.W. II, and Marshall who created the generous aid plan that helped the world recover afterward. So it's interesting to see two recent books that draw leadership lessons from their very different lives.
As presented in Jack Uldrich's Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker, Marshall is a model not necessarily for his successes - though they were legion - but for the moral qualities that allowed him to achieve them: Honesty, integrity, candor, vision, dedication and selflessness. These traits won him the admiration of the great and the good, but left him unappreciated by those not privy to the halls of power. By contrast, John A. Barnes' John F. Kennedy on Leadership showcases a very different approach to the subject. Kennedy lived his life in the public spotlight, after all, so it's natural that he should have something to teach us about the uses of charisma, public image and getting your message across. That he should also be able to teach us very specific things about team-building, a commitment to learning, decision-making and innovation may come as more of a surprise. Finally, Kennedy offers an object lesson on the potentially destructive power of one's own failings (which a certain Boeing chief executive could have profited from) - the sort of lesson that Marshall seems never to have needed. He simply knew it all along.
Price: Kennedy - $24.00; Marshall - $24.95.
The last thing anyone needs is a crowd of angry retirees, irate museum docents, and furious university staff coming after them with pitchforks - and yet the fiduciaries responsible for the pension funds, foundations and endowments on which all those folks rely often lack the financial literacy to exercise proper governance. With the viability of many pension funds in doubt, tax-exempt organizations under scrutiny, and quality corporate governance a major concern, trustees, board members and others interested in these kinds of organizations should read Susan M. Mangiero's Risk Management for Pensions, Endowments and Foundations, a comprehensive primer on the subject. Complete with examples, checklists and summaries, the book addresses risk management in all its forms, including discussions of topics like derivative use, valuation, reporting and the operating environment.
John Wiley & Sons
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