CPAWSB recently presented Bjornda Bjornson, CPA, CA, with the David Inhaber Distinguished Facilitator Award. Funded by CPA Alberta, this award is given annually to a facilitator residing in Alberta, who is a Chartered Professional Accountant and is delivering the CPA Professional Education Program modules through the CPA Western School of Business (CPAWSB). The recipient of the award is selected by the CPAWSB and is recognized for their exemplary contribution to furthering CPAWSB's education objectives.
In this series, we ask our award winners five questions about the CPA program.
What is your favourite thing about being a facilitator in the CPA program?
As a Core 1 facilitator primarily, I really like feeling as though I impact shaping candidate's opinion of the program right out of the gate and the way they focus on the enabling competencies when writing cases. I also then get to see candidates at the end of the road with the Cap 2 module. I really enjoy seeing that other side of their journey - after they have moved through all the modules. Especially when I see them approaching issues how they learned to in Core 1.
What do you wish learners would do more (or less) of?
I really wish candidates would consider the time constraints for ALL of the practice cases they write. It is such a phenomenal tool that they have at their disposal, but it needs to be used the right way to get the maximum benefit. I think, especially in Core 1, the candidates get so concerned about the NC ratings that they are worried about submitting what they can get done in an hour. As I say to my candidates each week – it is MUCH better to get those NCs in week 2 on the module when you still have a lot of time to learn from it than to get that NC on exam day when that response is more than just practice.
What surprises you about the CPA program?
It continually improves. As a facilitator involved in a legacy program and then the current program, I have felt we were providing great tools and support for the candidates and facilitators. Then the program will change, and I'm usually left thinking that this way is even better. Change isn't ever made just for change's sake but made by considering feedback received from both facilitators and candidates to provide a better fit for the needs of future candidates. The program truly cares about how the candidates learn best, plus truly fit their needs to produce the next round of qualified, competent, and well-rounded CPAs.
What advice would you offer someone starting the CPA program?
It is a tough program; it is meant to be. Many people not involved in the program may not empathize or really understand, so lean on any co-workers you have who are in the program, going through the program, and your facilitators. All of us have been through this program or a similar legacy program. We understand the demands, the impact on your life, how hard it can be to create the balance needed to be successful, and we can give you our advice and support.
Also, when it gets tough, just remember that it will all be worth it on the other side. I haven't met an accountant yet who regrets getting their designation.
Why did you become a CPA?
I have always been enamoured with numbers. As a kid, I would add up the numbers on license plates when we travelled or calculate our arrival time based on my parent's speed and the kilometres to our destination. This led to many people telling me I should be an accountant, so I took a financial management course in high school and just loved the logic behind it all. Things had to balance, there was a strong structure to how things worked, and I got to add numbers up. This love held through until I was done school and throughout my university education and journey to my designation.
CPAWSB is proud to have Bjornda Bjornson as part of its team. Congratulations, Bjornda!