I recently had the pleasure to spend some time with David Ravetch, Senior Lecturer of Accounting at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, to prepare for our upcoming webinar on April 29, Top 5 Excel Tips and Tricks. David has extensive experience facilitating Excel workshops for accounting firms and companies across the country. David is a long-time friend of GAAP Dynamics, and his enthusiasm will certainly make the upcoming webinar memorable!
Before sharing details from my interview, it is important to step back and ask a very fundamental question: Why is Excel so important for organizations?
Microsoft released its first version of Excel in the late 1980s. So, why does a program that has been around for nearly 40 years still command such attention? I mean, every organization uses Excel in some capacity. What is so special about a spreadsheet that can capture text or numerical data? The simple answer would be that Excel is probably one of the most popular yet most under-utilized programs in the market.
Let’s suppose I survey 100 business professionals and ask them on a scale of 1 to 5 how adept they are with Excel.
Most professionals would likely rank their level of knowledge as between 3 and 4. In reality, the extent of proficiency with this program is likely far lower, landing somewhere around 2 at best.
Excel is the Ferrari of spreadsheet software programs. Professionals will have different “experiences” depending on whether they turn it on and back it out of the driveway, they drive it around the block, or they drive it like they stole it. I’m not advocating car theft, but merely to illustrate that there is much more to Excel! David’s workshops help professionals understand some of the many key features that will not only make processes more efficient, but also may make you an invaluable part of your organization.
Question 1: Why do you love Excel so much?
This is definitely a popular question! In my experience, the more time I spend using Excel, the more applications I find for the program to make my life easier! What astounds me is how many people there are that use Excel (sometimes use it quite frequently!) but have not had any formal training on the program. Unless you take a course, the extent of knowledge you can gain from this program is limited to what you otherwise use to complete tasks or what someone else has showed you in the past.
To truly master Excel, you need to understand to core concepts: functionality and efficiency. Functionality teaches you what Excel can do, and efficiency teaches you how to do it better!
Question 2: Why do you love teaching Excel?
When I was a young lad, I used to perform magic shows for the neighborhood kids. Teaching Excel is just like performing a magic show each class session! The “oohs” and “aahs” from the learners are plentiful. As a facilitator, I get to teach learners things they can implement in their careers immediately. The appreciation from students is a huge motivator for me. I feel like I make a pretty significant impact in a very short time frame.
Also, none of my classes are basic. Yes, I do teach the foundation of Excel, but when I first decided to become an Excel instructor, I made a commitment that in every class, in every topic, I would try to add something advanced. Advanced does not mean “difficult” or “impossible” to learn; it’s more of a differentiator, since most of these functions are not used by the average professional. Since learners come with a wide range of abilities and experiences, it is always my goal that everyone learns something new and useful.
Question 3: Can you describe what is covered in your Excel Workshop Series?
Over the years, I have had an opportunity to develop several one-day workshops to illustrate the capabilities of Microsoft Excel. These workshops do not simply show you where you click or provide a list of shortcuts. All of the instruction is centered on problem-solving techniques. Accordingly, the sessions are filled with examples which are hands-on, so the learner is immersed in the learning process.
Excel 1: Excel Essentials: Beyond the Foundation
The first workshop covers what I refer to as the “Excel Essentials”. This is not designed to be I beginner’s course! This course elevates the skills of a basic Excel user by bringing together tips, techniques, functionality, and shortcuts to increase skills to an intermediate level.
Excel 2: Lookups, Pivot Tables, Macros, and More
The second workshop builds upon the “Excel Essentials” to transform learners into more efficient Excel users. Learners are introduced to the most powerful features that the program has to offer, including lookup functions, pivot tables, and macros.
Excel 3: Modern Excel: Power Query
The third workshop provides an introduction to the “Power Query”, where learners begin to understand how to cleanse and manipulate data. Learners also obtain an understanding of how to scrape the internet and take advantage of the greatest advancement in Excel since the creation of pivot tables and the VLOOKUP function!
Excel 4: Modern Excel: Power Pivot
The fourth workshop takes the learner’s experience one step further and introduces them to the “Power Pivot”. Learners are able to create pivot tables from multiple data sources, including how to manipulate millions of data records.
Excel 5: Power BI and Data Visualization
The fifth workshop brings the learner to the summit, where they are introduced to “Power BI and Data Visualization”. Power BI is a free add-in that can be used with other data visualization tools to bring your information to the next level! You will learn how to use the power of visualization to understand and interpret data over a period of time.
David Ravetch has been a UCLA faculty member for over thirty years and is well recognized for his passion for teaching. David teaches Accounting, Excel, and Personal Finance. He is involved with MBA programs at UCLA, UCI, and UCSD. He teaches intensive workshops geared towards preparing incoming MBA students for the rigorous quantitative challenges of these programs. In addition, David offers similar courses to executive education students and corporate professionals. He enjoys helping clients enhance their Accounting, Finance, and Excel skills, and his offerings are available for both financial and non-financial functional areas. David tailors the content of his workshops to fit the respective needs of his clients. In addition to his love of teaching, David has a passion for music, playing the piano, guitar, and clarinet.
About GAAP Dynamics
We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!
This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.