Editor’s note: born or made?

Okey Chigbo, Editor of CPA Magazine, introduces the features in the December 2015 issue.

Are people “born that way” or are upbringing and environment responsible for the behavioural traits we find in individuals? This vexatious question has probably been around since the beginning of humankind, but the scientific study of the “nature-nurture” debate began sometime in the 19th century. The debate has gone back and forth several times, with the cognoscenti claiming nature in one decade, then turning around to insist it is nurture in another.

In the 1960s, nurture was all the rage, but then in the 1990s, the “it’s genetic” craze took hold and genes were supposed to be responsible for everything from criminal behaviour to sexual orientation. And just when we thought scientists had solved the problem once and for all, we were told that the sequencing of the human genome showed that we humans did not have enough genes for genetics to matter that much. Today, we are informed by the experts that it is a combination of nature and nurture. Phew!

We like to think that we are much wiser than that at CPA Magazine. As such, we’ve narrowed our investigation to make it more open to a solution, and focused it on a specific area, the brain. We’ve avoided the global and discomfiting question about human nature and focused instead on our primary readership, accountants. Our ace reporter, Mary Teresa Bitti, was sent among “them that know” — neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists — to ask the intriguing question: are accountants born or made?

We assume that there are few among our readers who will not want to know the answer. Recent research into the brain using new tools such as magnetic resonance imaging has brought new insights into how the brain works. Can these new methods tell us why some are good with numbers and thrive in various areas of business, while others do not? Is it possible there is an accounting brain? To find out — as well as discover a host of other things you may not have known about the latest discoveries of neuroscience — you will have to read the utterly fascinating “A Head for Numbers?”.

GE Canada, launched in Peterborough, Ont., in 1892, is undergoing massive transformation. Through acquisitions and restructuring it will add 1,500 jobs. Elyse Allan, CEO of the Canadian company since 2004, will be at the helm, piloting the Canadian unit of the US global giant through changes that will “create smart machines that will be able to capture vast amounts of data with embedded sensors.” “Curious, inspiring, visionary, confident, driven. These are some of the adjectives used to describe her,” writes Susan Smith in this entertaining and informative cover story, “The Connector”. Please read.