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Jim Bland, Constance Bowen Discuss ‘the Language of Business’ in MSLCE Finance Class

By John Hounihan

Accounting and finance have long been defined as “the language of business.” No matter the sector, accounting, finance, and investing are sure to come up in the operation of organizations.

During the winter quarter in the MSLCE core class Introduction to Creative Enterprise, guest speaker Jim Bland elaborated on this adage, stating that accounting is also the science of business, and finance is the art. Bland, a West Point graduate from the world of private equity along with fellow panelist Constance Bowen of Northern Trust, visited class to speak on the everyday trials and tribulations of budgeting, buy ins, and speaking the language of business.

Bland spoke a great deal about budgeting and forecasting, a subject that MSLCE students are no stranger to. In class this quarter we have learned to maneuver the documents and questions that are integral to the financial side of any organization, specifically those in our sector of the world. Bland advised students to ensure a full dialogue on budgeting.

“Misalignment is what happens when the budget is created in a vacuum,” he warned.

As much as a senior level or C-Suite officer knows about the operations and big picture of the company outlook, only the specific arms of the organization can know how much they need budgeted, and it is crucial to speak to every arm in order to ensure the function and adaptability of the entire organizational model.

Speaking of arms, Bowen, the other panelist, referred to herself as an octopus, citing that she “dips her arms in eight different segments and problems at all times.” While Bland spoke more on the day-to-day blend of communication and finance, Bowen focused deeply on buy-in and adding value to both clients and team members.

“Be deliberate and pragmatic in your approach to planning and spending,” she said. “Make sure to prove the value of what you’re proposing at every level.”

As future leaders in arts organizations everywhere, we as MSLCE students must keep in mind the financial and economic implications of the creativity, innovation, and art that we focus on every day.