CPAWSB presented the 2020 Exemplary New Professional award to a recent graduate, Kathleen Gerber, CPA, who demonstrated the qualities of a Chartered Professional Accountant during their time as a candidate, and during the year following successful completion of the Common Final Exam. This award is made possible by Kouri Bezeren Heinrichs, an Alberta- based CPA firm.
Why did you become a CPA?
I didn’t know when starting post-secondary education that I wanted to become a CPA. It took trying out some different classes to figure out what I enjoyed learning. Business classes attracted me to the challenge of accounting. I did my first co-op term in an accounting/finance role, which led me to start looking into the CPA designation and ultimately, I decided to pursue it.
What was your path to the designation?
I attended the Israel Harold Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, where I enrolled in the Asper Co-op Program. I began working at Canada Life (formally Great-West Life) in January 2015, completing two co-op terms in Corporate Financial Reporting and Information Services Financial Management.
After finishing my bachelor of commerce (honours) degree, I started with Canada Life full-time in 2017 and began CPA PEP courses, completing two 15-month rotations working in Corporate Financial Reporting and Internal Audit. Canada Life also offered an excellent training program that helped me be successful in all my modules.
I now work as an Assistant Manager, Corporate Financial Reporting. I am also one of two coordinators for Canada Life’s CPA Training Program, recruiting co-op and full-time staff into the program and ensuring candidates get a diverse experience. We also provide support and guidance to candidates and in-house training before CPA PEP modules and the CFE.
As it is important to give back, I volunteer with CPA Manitoba as a guest speaker to prospective candidates by sharing my career journey and how the designation has benefitted me.
What surprised you about the CPA program?
My favourite modules were Capstone 1 & 2: Capstone 1 because of the group project. I enjoy working with others and getting different perspectives on approaching issues, varying ways of thinking that lead to better results from the collaboration. Capstone 2 showed me how much I liked writing cases. Though Capstone 2 had many difficult and long days, it was extremely rewarding when everything comes together.
What advice would you offer someone starting the CPA program?
The road to attaining your CPA designation is challenging and rewarding. If you treat everything as a learning experience, you will succeed. You are bound to have difficult days at work or have difficulties understanding technical knowledge in your module work; stick with it and learn from those experiences. You will become a well-rounded CPA by the end of your educational journey.