Excel in the Spreadsheets: An Accountant’s Wet Dream


Excel in the Spreadsheets: An Accountant’s Wet Dream

Illustration: Juergen D

For the average mathematically challenged person Microsoft Excel is the stuff nightmares are made of. When we add MS Office as a skill set on our CVs, we tremble a little, hoping nobody asks us to prove it.

But the software that terrifies most of us, lights up the lives of others. Ask an accountant, and they’ll tell you that the answer to every problem in the universe lies in the assuring rows and columns of a spreadsheet. Whether it’s finding a bride for Salman Khan, figuring out the optimal volume to listen to Arnab, or calculating compound interest on a loan, there isn’t a query that cannot be solved if you use the right set of formulae and macros in those tiny cells. For them, Excel is not the boring nerd in class; it is Clark Kent with superpowers.

In the world of finance, an in-depth knowledge of Excel is the currency on which cool is traded. In a new job, if you make the rookie mistake of telling your colleagues and seniors that you know Basic Excel, they’ll find it cute – and then proceed to ignore you. There is a reason they are your seniors and get five-digit salaries: It’s because they know how to Excel to send a man to the moon.

Advanced Excel is the only thing that will get you respect in the finance world. If on the first day of the job, you announce that you know Advanced Excel, the whole team gets a boner. Only noobs brag about Excel, real men believe in Advanced Excel, MS Excel’s NRI cousin with the accent and dollar money. Advanced Excel isn’t a separate piece of software or code – it’s a state of mind; like getting a black belt in Excel. It’s a declaration of mastery over complex formulae and intricate macros that mere mortals can only dream of.

There are moments of deep insecurity when a number is not linked to a formula in the financial statements and panic spreads in the department.

Excel is to accountants what Photoshop is to designers and Tinder is to fuckbois. If you can use Excel without a mouse, you probably don’t even need a sexy, come-hither display picture on Tinder. It will be discussed in office and there will be legends about you. Helping your crush with Vlookup and If-then-else scenarios is the best ice-breaker, because Excel in the spreadsheets is better than coffee in the streets. If you can conduct a training session on Excel, you’re almost inviting yourself to an orgy. Move your quick fingers over a few keyboards and whispers of “Usko kya mast Excel aata hai yaar” will spread across the office like wildfire.

But like all love stories, it’s not fun and games all the time.

There are moments of deep insecurity when a number is not linked to a formula in the financial statements and panic spreads in the department. “Where did this number come from?” the shouting begins. Or when a file has been plagued with an error and all formulae have vanished. You’d trade your limb in a heartbeat to get the file back in its original state.

There are also moments of heartbreak when you’ve been working on a file for an hour without saving and it suddenly gives up on you. You feel betrayed like a BJP voter who voted for development and achhe din. Then there are times when it takes 10 minutes to open a file or apply a formula and you run out of patience and want to put a knife through the screen.

Even Excel can be tough to deal with at times, continuously asking if you want to convert the .xls to .xlsx? Jeez Excel, I would have joined the UP Government if I was really into conversions.

Accountants, like everyone else, are protective about the things they love and will not shy from Excel-shaming someone for taking 40 minutes to do something that could have been done in two minutes using a custom filter. God forbid, you ever commit the sin of using a calculator with an Excel window open, it’s like getting caught cheating on your girlfriend. “Every cell is a calculator, you idiot,” the senior will come lashing down on you.

Love it or hate it, the fact is, if you’re an accountant, there’s no breaking up with Excel. The only choice you have, is to excel at it.