New Economy Journal

Dating an accountant – Taking Account of Love

Volume 1, Issue 2

May 5, 2019

By - Nicholas McGuigan - Julie McBeth

Piece length: 691 words

Cover image: Dating an Accountant filming during the Artist-in-Residency
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How do you measure love? What is the value of mess? When can you count on it?

Accounting exists as a social practice and is increasingly present in our everyday lives. Accountants exude palpable levels of loyalty, trustworthiness and conservatism. They safeguard our profitable interests and hold us to account, ensuring our faithful representation.

But in the balance sheet of life how do accountants account for love? While they have a way of calculating profit and loss, a little creativity may be necessary to inject the profession with an accountability framework built for the 21st Century.

To this end, Monash Business School has introduced an artist-in-residence program aimed at fostering collaborative connections between art and business.

The program is driven by Dr Nick McGuigan, Associate Professor of Accounting at Monash Business School, who believes accountants need to investigate fresh and creative ways to change their profession, or face being replaced – with robots and AI automating many of the tasks they currently undertake.

“We're interested in the way conceptual artists can help you look at things from different perspectives. That’s what accounting needs – a different way to break down silo-thinking and open up people’s minds to find new and different ways of creating value for organisations and society,” Dr McGuigan said.

Dr. Nick McGuigan and Rebecca Conroy strategic planning during filming.

Dr. Nick McGuigan and Rebecca Conroy strategic planning during filming.

The artist-in-residence program intends to foster new collaborations between art + business. Opportunities are created for individuals that will enable a deeper reflection of one’s work and its resulting impact, open new ways of communication that enhance existing capabilities, and encourage new insights into their own research, research methods and methodologies.

Cohabitating with leading interdisciplinary conceptual artists working at the edges of business and corporate worlds will enable a unique professional development opportunity that brings together artists, academics and students in a cross-disciplinary context.

The inaugural artist-in-residence, Rebecca Conroy ( is an interdisciplinary artist working across site, community engagement, and performative interventions through artist led activity. Her work is bound up in mimetic strategies and the playful occupation of non-art fields such as urban planning, economics, and housing, particularly where it concerns the behaviour of cities and the rise of the creative entrepreneur within finance capitalism.

Rebecca Conroy engaging with departmental staff during her residency.

Engaging with hair and makeup artist Lou McLaren. Rebecca Conroy and Lou McLaren.

Bek Conroy took up residence within the Department of Accounting, living amongst faculty as she investigated accounting and the everyday. Her innovative art work explored accountants creativity culminating in a dating marathon where she invited six accountants to ‘go on a 30-minute date’ with her. ‘Dating an Accountant’ is a performance investigation that explores the uncertainties of accounting procedures and the necessity for love and courtship. Everything has been captured as a live performance, creating a short film that explores value, the complexity of accounting language and the contradictions and complications of measuring the emotional aspect of our lives as humans.

The dating begins with Manager Investor Relations BHP Billiton Michael Jakobsen. Rebecca Conroy and Michael Jakobsen.

The film was launched to industry by professional accounting body CPA Australia and premiered at the exhibition "Art, Labour & Working Life" at The Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders Street, Docklands last year.

Dr McGuigan conceptualised the residency program as an innovation to break traditional thinking in accounting, using art as a way to open dialogue across disciplines and create numerous ways to engage with conversations around the future of the accounting profession.

“The term ‘creative accounting’ is often used in a negative light. However creative skills are highly beneficial in our profession. So collaborating with artists just makes sense. We as a profession need to reclaim the true sense of creativity as it will be the future of all professions” Dr McGuigan said.

“Performance-led artistic interventions and radical provocations aim to explore the messiness of business, creating deeper, more integrated conversations that invoke new ways of seeing and playing in our work,” Bek Conroy says.

Listen to an interview with Bek Conroy on ABC Radio Canberra

Watch the film trailer to get a sneak peek into the salacious world of dating an Accountant

For more information or to contact us about the possibility of taking up residency with the Monash Business School Artist-in-Residence Program email Dr. Nick McGuigan @

Organising on set with Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Foundation for Young Australians, Alecia Rathbone. Rebecca Conroy, Alecia Rathbone and Dario Vacirca.

Up to no good with Monash University Accounting Academic Dr. Alessandro Ghio. Rebecca Conroy and Alessandro Ghio

Up to no good with Monash University Accounting Academic Dr. Alessandro Ghio. Rebecca Conroy and Alessandro Ghio

Photo credits: Thomas Kern

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