Getting to Know Anne Beyer
Meet the GSB accounting professor who wants to help executives and leaders get more comfortable and confident with the numbers that drive their business.
Anne Beyer was one of those kids who was always drawn to numbers. Growing up in Germany with parents who were engineers, she jokes that becoming an academic makes her the black sheep of the family. Her academic ‘aha’ moment came during a visit to Oxford. Being on such a beautiful university campus with like-minded students inspired her to study for the GMAT and apply to PhD programs. She earned a PhD in accounting from Northwestern and in 2006 landed a job at Stanford GSB. “Stanford is truly extraordinary — my colleagues, the students, the quality of research and intellectual exchange — I just can’t imagine a better place.”
Numbers Tell Stories
According to Anne, accounting is simply a structured form of communication. But it can get pretty complicated if you don’t speak the language of numbers. Anne acknowledges that numbers don’t come naturally to everyone, but you can certainly get more comfortable with them. “I’m trying to be their guide, showing them a simple path with stepping stones that gives them greater ease and familiarity around financial information.” So, she works hard to help executives gain confidence, understand how the numbers measure performance, and use them to drive better decision making. “I’m focused on getting people to understand how financial statements provide a sense of what’s happening at a company rather than learning about specific accounting standards.”
Making It Real
Executives bring a real-world perspective to accounting that Anne finds fresh and exciting. “They’re constantly thinking about what they’re going to actually do with what they just learned. They have so many questions based upon what they’re facing and it makes for a highly collaborative learning process.” Anne had her own real-world experience with accounting when she became temporary CFO of a childcare center during the pandemic. “It was different from academia, very tangible. I loved the hands-on nature of the work, interacting with others, and the high frequency of decision making.”
What Free Time?
With two young children, Anne is a multi-tasking mom and consummate juggler of life and work. But whenever she can, she heads to the outdoors and the Northern California coast. “I still remember coming here on a family vacation when I was, I think, 18, and I was just blown away by its beauty. I would have never thought that I would live so close by.”