By Dennis D. Theis, CPA, shareholder, Maner Costerisan PC
As a certified public accountant, people frequently tell me they could never do what I do. “Too many numbers,” they say. They are typically surprised to find out how little I actually deal with numbers when their impression is I’m buried up to my ears in them all day, every day.
I spend the majority of my work life solving problems. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be involved in a process of identifying issues, brainstorming ideas, seeking input from and crafting proposed solutions with individuals with diverse backgrounds, expertise and capabilities. This is a prime example of how the arts are intertwined within STEM to form STEAM.
My experiences with art, communications, history, humanities and other art-related skills certainly impact my level of creativity and flexibility to address a broad range of issues — some of which are tied to numbers, though many are not. Admittedly, I would classify myself as a novice in most art-related disciplines, and that may explain why I struggle to draw stick people but can remember the license plate number to every car I’ve owned. While my math skills provide me a strong base for what I do, the arts enable me to do it better.
“Arts and humanities bring the critical elements of cultural understanding, writing and communication so essential to the workforce,” said Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Michigan Humanities Council. “Hard skills such as formulas and science are amazing, but without being able to interpret and communicate across teams, and persuasively speak and write, an employee team suffers.”
I believe the growing emphasis on STEM education will pay big dividends for our economy and the overall well-being of our citizens. I hope that we put the same emphasis on the arts to gain the greatest return on our investment.