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Any ongoing relationship between employers and employees can be summed up into three categories: recruiting, training and retaining. Recruitment can be difficult unto itself, but not if you know the right strategies to attract the talent you really want in your company. Training is expensive but essential to business success. Employees must be trained to maximize their productivity, output and performance. Employees who are not trained are easily frustrated and ineffective in their jobs, which can be extraordinarily costly when it comes to your clientele. Well-trained employees are not only better workers, but training – if properly introduced and managed – can itself be an employment perk that helps with the last category of relationship: retention. Read more

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There is no disputing that when it comes to employment, things went significantly downhill back in 2008 the world over and, in the United States, they’ve had a difficult time getting back to a place of normalcy. While entry-level jobs have become more scarce, however, job openings for skilled office workers – managers, engineers, accountants, and computer techs, are sitting wide open. For those who have the skills and experience to manage a project or take part in a complicated SOX audit, the doors are not only open, but the hiring managers are on the other side begging for their attention. Read more

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Business etiquette. What exactly does it mean? Does anyone even adhere or think of it as they are going about their daily work? I am sure after a long, disastrous commute, no breakfast and cold coffee the last thing on your mind is answering an email or phone call with proper business etiquette. While you may feel you are practicing proper manners when you respond to someone in your office, you could actually come across as rather relaxed or non-professional. Etiquette and manners are two entirely different animals and in order to discuss business etiquette in the technology and virtual world we live in today it will mean reviewing what etiquette truly means, as well as the difference between etiquette and manners. Read more

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I'm in Control

Patrick Liu came to A2Q2 in October, 2013 through the Ascend Leadership Organization at San Francisco State University where he majored in Accounting. Though A2Q2 is engaged in various accounting processes for many of its clients, Patrick quickly found himself working on IT General Controls (ITGC) Testing and flowchart creation.

Patrick describes his time at A2Q2 as “an incredible learning experience from day one.” From working on testing IT controls and preparing and participating in presentations to company executives, he has also had the chance to jump into several other projects required by managers. Read more

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Creating a true learning organization – where employees are encouraged to learn new skills as the company continually transforms itself – is difficult. Finding a job at a true learning organization may be just as difficult depending on where you live and your skill set.

But that shouldn’t stop anyone from becoming a learning organization of one.

Who says you have to get hired in order to learn new skills and make yourself more valuable to your current employer, interesting to your friends, and develop a greater sense of self-fulfillment?

There is little excuse for avoiding true lifelong learning today. Most adults have access to both the sum of human knowledge, and probably a decent amount of free time each day after their absolute obligations are met, such as job and family requirements.

Why not spend that time learning something new?

Instead of sitting in front of the TV, surfing the Social Media and Internet, or just ‘hanging out’ doing nothing, make the choice to expand your knowledge base.

Ten weeks from today if you could look back and see that you’ve learned how to build something new and useful, or mastered a new software program, or studied a new management technique, or developed a new process for work, wouldn’t you feel good about yourself? Chances are, you probably wouldn’t wish you had those hours back to watch the episodes of your favorite Netflix series.

The great thing about finding and working for a learning organization is that you can often get paid to better yourself in many ways, but money should not be the only motivator in self-improvement. Self-improvement is its own reward and may well be the foundation required to get a better job or a raise.

We all see people with knowledge and skills we wish we had: those who can program computers, fix cars, cook exceptionally, speak different languages, manage an office, shoe a horse, or develop the latest rocket science.

The knowledge of how to do all of these skills is at your fingertips, so what’s your excuse? Learn a little bit about what you’re interested in, then learn a little bit more tomorrow. Ten weeks from now, if the pattern continues, you’ll be better off than you are today, and better off than if you’d spent that time in front of the television.

Keep learning until the undertaker tells you to stop.
Great Learning Websites:
How Stuff Works
YouTube (yes, it’s not just kittens and music videos! If you search for instruction on a topic, you’re very likely to find several tutorial videos)

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At Notre Dame de Namur University, Kevin Nguyen majored in accounting, securing an extraordinary amount of book knowledge, facts and figures. Through a professor there, he learned about Kim Le and her company as a great place to work. A2Q2 was searching for interns and, Needing no further encouragement, Kevin applied in June of 2012, was accepted, and over the next two months, had his eyes opened to a world of experience. Working with only two A2Q2 clients, Kevin has really enhanced his computer skills, picked up and learned new software such as Microsoft Visio, and developed many interpersonal and teamwork skills.
Kevin came to work for A2Q2 in the Spring of 2013 and feels that one of the most important skills he has learned is being able to communicate and build a relationship with the clients. “Bringing in bagels, or taking a client out to lunch really helps break the ice and get to know them personally.” Kevin feels this really makes the process smoother and helps if he later needs to nag the clients for things. In addition to client-handling skills, Kevin is also proud of the team skills he has acquired while working with A2Q2. Communicating his status on deliverables, completing tasks on time, and learning how to prioritize the work he was doing so that the scheduled project would be well-coordinated and completed on time were some of the interpersonal skills he picked up.
Kevin Nguyen has spent time working for high-tech and innovative clients such as Pattern Energy. He has assisted them with financial planning and analysis (FP&A), which puts a considerable feather in his cap, expanding his high value and desirability as an employee.
Between creating budget templates, loading forecast data and reconciling information, Kevin has also studied for and worked toward further advancement in getting certified as a Public Accountant (CPA). Kevin doesn’t know what the future will hold or which direction he will be moving in, but he is extremely grateful for the levels of personal and professional growth he has received since coming to work at A2Q2. His time with the company has brought him new skills and taught him about high-tech accounting and analysis areas of business he’d never known before.
Kevin’s experiences are typical for what a learning organization strives itself to achieve: non-linear, capable employees who grow beyond their past experiences to become more well-rounded for whatever the future may bring.

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Terrence majored in Accounting at San Francisco University. He came to A2Q2 as an intern in the Summer of 2012 after learning about the company through the campus organization Ascend. That summer he worked on a NetSuite system implementation project, which included the opportunity to offer his input to management in various meetings.
The next year, interested in staying with a learning organization, Terrence returned to A2Q2 part-time and assisted on a SOX compliance project, working on process narratives and flowcharting. After that, Terrence was hooked on the A2Q2 culture and returned to work for the company full-time May of 2013. Though he majored in accounting, Terrence found himself working on highly-technical projects dealing with vast amounts of data, computer systems, and helping to transition client companies through various software programs. His accounting expertise also comes in handy as well, enabling him to deal with company owners on bookkeeping and accounting software issues also.
Terrence describes his KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) acquired at the A2Q2 learning organization as including: NetSuite experience and exposure in system format customization, system design, data migration, report building, and workflows. HFM experience and exposure to consolidation, data analysis, reporting, and budgeting. He has also gained experience in narrative documentations and flowcharting as well as bookkeeping beyond what he did in college for one of his school organizations.
Beyond the business, Terrence has also made many friends at A2Q2, and though he is still not sure what he wants to specialize in for the future, he is grateful for all that he has learned and for the opportunity to touch different aspects of the company in order to determine what he not only can do best, but what he enjoys most.

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No company can succeed without a solid foundation or without a vision for the future. A2Q2’s foundation is not only solid, but inspiring as well. Kim Le, the owner, has a background that reminds us all there is benefit in working hard and overcoming negative circumstances.

I grew up homeless.

I was 6 years old when I became homeless.

1978, Saigon Vietnam, in the dead of night.
My baby brother, mother and I are sneaking out of town on a rickshaw.
Our rendezvous point was a tiny fishing village along the Mekong River.
You see; we had lost our freedom in a war.
I am six years old and for me, it is just a great adventure.

We slipped onto a tiny fishing boat and sailed into the South China Sea.
My mother was seasick the entire time and stayed below deck.
I would sneak up onto the deck and listen to the rumors about pirate ships that were trolling the seas.
They were looking for victims like us to rob, rape and kill.
We spent 5 days on the boat and ran out of water and food, when we were only eating rice with salt & pepper to begin with.
On top of that, boat engine died and we were just drifting in this vast sea of blue with nothing in sight.
We were hungry, thirsty, and anxious to find land.
Finally, we spotted land.
We had no idea where we were but we were so ecstatic that everyone jumped off the sinking boat.

I am living under a plastic tarp with dirt floors and mosquitoes and head lice everywhere.
The lice was so bad that we shave my 4-year old brother’s head to get rid of them.
Mom is depressed; and rightfully so. She had left behind 3 kids and everything she knew.
So it falls on me to wait in lines to draw water from the wells.
It is my job to wait in lines for food rations. Fresh vegetables are so rare.
I am living in a refugee camp in Malaysia, waiting for any country to accept us.

After a year of this struggle, a generous family from a church helped us come to the US.

Starting with nothing.
We had no money. We didn’t know anyone or the language.
We rented a tiny room in a house from another Vietnamese family.
My little brother, mom and me in one room, sharing a single bed.
Mom was working a minimum wage job as a dishwasher even though in Vietnam she owned a large restaurant .
I learn English by watching Sesame Street with our Vietnamese family.
One day, I am sitting in the tiny living room.
The two sisters speak in English to each other knowing that I can’t understand them. I feel like an outsider, so lonely, so unwanted.
At one point, they said something in English and the light bulb went off in my head.
I understood it!
How FREEING to finally be part of the conversation!

Coming to America, I thought my days of being homeless were over.
I was wrong.
My mother meets a man who she thinks will be a good husband and provider.
Living with him was like having a noose slowly tightening around my neck.
Whenever they have big arguments, he kicks us out of his house.
We spend occasional cold nights huddled in my mom’s van, waiting for him to let us back in.
My brother and I live in constant fear of the fights.

From that experience, I told myself:
“Kim, you always have to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. No one will ever have that kind of control of you again.”

I knew the only way to break out of that cycle – to break out of poverty – was to go to college and do well.
And so, with just $500 to my name, I left Tucson for college in Phoenix, AZ.
I went to school full-time and supported myself by working part-time
I shared a 2-bedroom apartment with 4 other girls. I slept on the floor because we didn’t have room for my bed.
My goal was to get straight A’s so that I could get a job. And, I did.
During the college years I was free to explore, free to grow without restraints,
And to find out who I really am.

And what I discovered about myself is that I am:

  • Determined
  • Hard working
  • Persistent
  • Tough
  • Strong
  • And lovable…(I never felt that before)

Those were very good years.
By the time I graduated 4 years later, I had 5 job offers from the 6 major CPA firms.

Video Recording of this story as told by Kim Le

Kim Le has not kept her successful overcoming to herself. She started A2Q2 with a passion for helping women and minorities by giving opportunities for others to succeed and do well. To that end, working at A2Q2 isn’t about fitting into a single mold to do the same task repetitively until you retire. Training programs, classes, personal and professional growth growth, and opportunities abound for discovering new skills and growing into different business areas.

For the coming year, Kim Le feels the company goal is to build a strong Learning Organization with a Shared Vision.

In the coming weeks, this blog space will be dedicated to the stories of interns and employees of A2Q2. In their own words you will see their growth and business improvement from their time here. From a rickety boat in the South China Sea, to successful business leadership in one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United StatesTrial to Triumph continues.

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For some, 2013 was a year of great trials, or pain and suffering, for others a year of many triumphs and delights. Fortunately for most, it was somewhere in between – a series of ups and downs which hopefully also served as a good learning experience.
A2Q2 enjoyed a year of amazing expansion. Many changes were made to improve the experience for the employees, enhance knowledge and learning, offer training opportunities and be of great help to our clients. Going into 2014, there are no plans to slow down – only to continue improving the employment experience, making A2Q2 a great place to work, and a great company to have working for you.
Our founder, Kim Le continues her focus on helping women and minorities to succeed, and holding a charitable heart that gives back to the communities the company is involved in. To that end, beginning in January this blog space will be dedicated to showcasing current and former interns and employee profiles at A2Q2 – those who have firsthand knowledge and experience of what it is like working for A2Q2.
To you and your business, to you and your family, and to you and your friends and colleagues, all of us at A2Q2 wish you the very best for this New Year. May all your goals for the year be achieved, except one…
so you will always have something to strive for.

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The fat, jolly legendary character known as Santa Claus is a paragon of charitable virtue. Physics aside, no one else spends all year working only to give 100% of what they made to charity in a single night. The legend of Santa Claus, a.k.a. St. Nick is steeped in legend, which stems from other legends and is rooted, at last, in the person of Nicholas who lived somewhere around 300 A.D. in the region now known as Turkey.
The important thing (the moral of the story) regarding the stories of Nicholas is his charity and generosity. Hailing from wealthy parents who died while he was still young, Nicholas was a wealthy man. Rather than use that wealth for self or greedy purposes, Nicholas reportedly gave significant amounts of it away to those in need, providing gifts of gold to the desperate and begging for anonymity.
There are specific stories abounding of how Nicholas used his wealth to help others but over the past seventeen hundred years, these stories have become impossible to verify, some are clearly supernatural in origin – others are just the kind acts of a kind person.
Before the modern-day Christmas, there was simply the joy of giving presents. Before that, even, there was Nicholas, to inspire the idea of giving out of love and the kindness in one’s heart. There are always poor, injured, sick, or hurting individuals that need help. Rather than those that are racing through life to accumulate the most toys, the world is enriched by those who look to help others as best they can. They may never become the basis for a legendary figure like Santa Claus, but that’s not the point. Giving to charity is its own reward. Helping those less fortunate makes for a better life lived.
Volunteering to serve, organizing charitable events, getting involved, and yes, donating money; all are things to strive for not just in this new year, but every year.