Professional Development Spotlight

Interview Series: Dr. Sean Stein Smith, CPA

The Daily CPA sits down with Dr. Sean Stein Smith, CPA to discuss several current topics related to finance and accounting.


Jeremias from The Daily CPA sits down with Dr. Sean Stein Smith, CPA to discuss several topics related to finance and accounting, including the effects blockchain will have on daily accounting tasks, the future of the accounting field in general, and career advice for those just entering the industry.  Below is a snippet of the conversation, be sure to watch the video to hear the whole thing!

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.

I am Sean Stein Smith and I am an assistant professor at Lehman College, and before that I was in industry for about eight years, and I worked for a number of for profit and non-profit companies. In those roles I was either an accounting, kind of, focused person or I was serving in a financial analyst type role.  So I’ve sort of moved up from a basic accounting point of view, to a financial analyst, and now to the academic sort of thought leader, hopefully, type role. 

So, tell me about the transition between each phase [of your career] and why you decided to jump from the traditional accounting route to financial analyst and then ultimately to your position right now. 

If I was to sort of summarize the overall trend in there, it would be that I always wanted to have a role or a title that would allow me to have an impact on the actual company because at the end of the day, whether it is a for-profit or non-profit, or whether it is an academic entity, the overall mission is to have an impact. Sort of a part B to that is to be effective in the usage of the resources that are available to the company or the entity. The whole underlying motivation from just my point of view was to have an impact on how the business is actually operating – to be able to be part of that conversation and have an impact at that level.

I hear a lot of talk within the industry and outside the industry about block chain, and how it is going to disrupt the industry and eliminate the need for auditors and accountants.  What are you thoughts about that?

I think that an important point to get across right up front is that I think block chain is an excellent tool but it is just a tool and that it is up to the individuals who are actually involved in the process to maximize the impact of that tool.  I think that the advances in automation, AI, and blockchain will have an impact on the entry-level roles in the field, but that by automating these lower level roles that it will free up auditors and accountants, to sort of work on higher level roles, to add more value to our clients and to ourselves as a field. 


Sean can be found on most social media channels, including LinkedIn.  He also has a column with Inc.com, called Common Sense Finance, where he posts weekly articles about finance. Check it out.

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