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SPRING 2015

PM#40012957

A commemorative
publication of the
Alberta
CPA Accountants
Alberta
Unification
Joint Venture
Agency

THE ALBERTA

ADVANTAGE
Designed for outstanding finance and accounting professionals, the

Master of Financial Management degree equips students with


the skills, knowledge and experience to become future finance leaders.
BASED IN CALGARY
FLEXIBLE DEGREE DELIVERY
COLLABORATIVE ENVIRONMENT
OUTSTANDING FACULTY
GLOBAL OPPORTUNITIES

WWW.BUSINESS.UALBERTA.CA/MFM

16

05

TABLE OF

29

CONTENTS

FEATURES

34

04 MESSAGE FROM THE CEO


05 LOOKING BACK

Tracing the history of the legacy designations


ACCOUNTING THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

COVER ILLUSTRATION:

BEN JOHNSTON

16

FAMILY FIRST
A lifetime of opportunity for the Burgess family

19

PASSING THE TORCH


The Boese sons take over their fathers business

22 ALL IN THE FAMILY

The Fowlis family shares a tradition of ambition

33 MEMBER PROFILES

CGAs, CMAs and CAs reflect on what their


designations have meant to them

31

Q&As

25 WORLD TRAVELLER

Ray Harriss lengthy accounting career has taken


him around the globe

29 GO NORTH, YOUNG MAN

Industry veteran Grant Hinchey followed his sense


of adventure

GRASPING OPPORTUNITY
Kenneth Biggs is one of the
provinces most accomplished
professionals

48 5 LESSONS LEARNED

Words of wisdom from


business leaders

50 RESOURCES

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

MESSAGE FROM THE CEO

A COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION OF THE CPA ALBERTA JOINT VENTURE


Vision Alberta serves to move the provinces accounting profession forward under the new CPA banner by building community among designated accountants, raising awareness of
the move to a united profession and increasing engagement
with the CPA Alberta Joint Venture. In doing so, it aims to
represent the voice of a profession that is stronger together.
CPA ALBERTA JOINT VENTURE
EDMONTON
580 Manulife Place, 10180-101 Street, T5J 4R2
CALGARY
Suite 100, 325 Manning Road NE, T2E 2P5
Suite 300, 1210-8th Street SW, T2R 1L3
CHRIS PILGER, Director, Member Communications
c.pilger@icaa.ab.ca

VISION ALBERTA IS PUBLISHED


FOR CPA ALBERTA JOINT VENTURE BY
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ROB OLSON, JOEY PODLUBNY, CHRISTINA RYAN

Honouring the Past,


Looking to the Future
On behalf of all of us at the CPA
Alberta Joint Venture, I am thrilled to kick
off this special commemorative issue of
Vision Alberta. The enthusiasm comes from
seeing the end in sight: the unification of
the three accounting designations and an
exciting future for all of us.
Given this historic moment, this issue of
Vision Alberta rightly honours our collective
past and looks forward with certainty and
conviction that our 26,000 members are
in the right place at the right time: one
designation with a strong national voice; one
designation to best serve Albertans. We are
a powerful and meaningful presence in the
Alberta economy.
While we move forward to become CPAs,
we will not leave behind the significance
of our legacies. When the Chartered
Professional Accountants Act is proclaimed,
we will not forget where we came from.
The power of the CGA, CMA and CA
designations helped shape us into the
professionals we are today, with unparalleled
skill and vision to guide and lead.
Throughout these pages, please join me in
celebrating our heritage and the perspectives
of our remarkable members, while looking
forward to the promise of a bright future.
RACHEL MILLER FCA
CEO, CPA Alberta Joint Venture

A unified accounting profession

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RETURN UNDELIVERABLE MAIL TO
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CONTENTS 2015 CPAJV. NOT TO BE REPRINTED
OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

THE POWER OF THE CGA,


CMA AND CA DESIGNATIONS
HELPED SHAPE US INTO THE
PROFESSIONALS WE ARE TODAY,
WITH UNPARALLELED SKILL AND
VISION TO GUIDE AND LEAD.

EVENTS

Looking
Back

TECH

A HISTORY OF THE
LEGACY DESIGNATIONS

CA

OR TODAYS YOUNG ACCOUNTING

professionals, with their mobile


devices and sophisticated
computer technologies, it might
be difficult to envision what it
was like more than a century ago, when
most accounting was done with a paper
and pencil. Some might even wonder
what the point is in looking back at all,
especially given the exciting future they
see ahead of themselves. But its this
rich and multi-layered history that can
provide important insights and context
and benchmarks; its in looking into the
past that we gain a better understanding
of the present and even the future.
By the 1910s, there was a demand
for people to account for the finances of
business. Alberta practitioners needed to
form professional organizations to deal
with educational requirements, standards
and other issues.

June 11, 1879


A group of accountants meet
in Montreal to consider the
advisability of forming an
association or society of
accountants. The upshot of
this meeting was the creation
of the Association of Accountants of Montreal, the first
organized body of accountants in North America.

The history of accounting in our


province and country is a story of
three designations the CAs, CMAs and
CGAs that were created to meet these
demands. We look back and celebrate
the accomplishments of the people and
organizations behind these designations
as they evolved to meet the needs of this
rapidly changing world.
Indeed, the profession continues to
progress to meet the needs of a more
global and technologically advanced society. We are on the cusp of one of the most
exciting developments in the history of the
accounting profession to date, as we await
proclamation of the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation in Alberta.
This legislation will unify the three designations into one. This look back is our way of
celebrating and saying a fond farewell to
the legacy designations that have defined
the profession.

1880

CMA

CGA

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

LOOKING BACK
1914
Albertas first commercial oil well is discovered in
Turner Valley, gushing five to seven metres above
the drilling floor. As a result, more than 500 oil
exploration companies are formed within days.
In October, the Calgary Stock Exchange is formed.

EVENTS

1914
1915-16
World War I begins, The U of A School of Accounting is eslasting four years. tablished, later to become the School
of Commerce in 1928 and the 10th
faculty of the university in 1960.

TECH

1910s
Office technologies are readily available, including typewriters, carbon paper, preprinted ledgers,
pencils and nib pens, and reams of paper.

1900

CA

1910

1902
The Dominion Association
of Chartered Accountants is
incorporated by Act of the
Parliament of Canada.

1910
On November 18, a private members bill
is introduced to incorporate the Institute
of Chartered Accountants of Alberta. The
ICAA has 11 founding members.

1914
The ICAA signs an affiliation agreement
with the University of Alberta.

1911
First meeting of the ICAA
is held, with six charter
members present.

CMA

1920
CMA Canada, first known as the
Canadian Society of Cost Accountants,
is founded. Cost of membership: $5.

Burns Block in Calgary, the site of the first


formal meeting of the Alberta Institute
of Chartered Accountants

CGA

1908
The Certified General Accountants Association
is founded in Montreal by John Leslie, assistant
comptroller of the Canadian Pacific Railway, to
help accountants enhance their professional skills.
1910
The Program of Professional
Studies begins as a series
of courses to sharpen
members skills.

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

1913
The association is
federally incorporated.

April 19, 1916


Women gain the right to
vote in Alberta.

1922
The University of Alberta starts a four-year
bachelor of commerce program.

1917
After federal income tax was
introduced in the United
States five years earlier,
Canada follows suit with the
federal Income War Tax Act.

1920
Imperial Oil discovers oil in Fort Norman,
opening up a new northern frontier.
1920
Canadas Bankruptcy Act is introduced.
1922
Radio stations begin
broadcasting from
Edmonton and Calgary.

1920

1916
Articling is introduced. Students are
required to article for four years with a
Chartered Accountant and register with
the ICAA as a student-at-accounts.

M i c r o sof t E R P, C R M , S h a r e Po in t

1921
Office operations get a boost. After
borrowing supplies from the university for
years, the ICAA finally purchases its first
office equipment a desk for $65 and
an Underwood typewriter for $132.55.

October 29, 1929


The stock market crashes on
what will become known as
Black Friday, signalling the beginning of the Great Depression.

1923
Invention of the Ditto machine, an
early version of the photocopier.

1929
Membership reaches
100 and fees are raised
to $30 for a resident
practising member.

LOOKING BACK
EVENTS

1934
The Canadian government
creates the Bank of Canada to
regulate the nations monetary
system. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission
is also created.

1939
Germany invades
Poland. Canada
declares war and
enters World War II.

1935
William Aberhart of the new Social
Credit Party becomes premier of Alberta.

1944
The World Bank
and International
Monetary Fund
are established.
1940s
This decade ushered in an age of radar,
atomic energy, electronics, jet engines,
the Cold War and the nuclear bomb.

TECH

CA

1930

1940
1932
The Institute purchases a new
mimeograph machine (a lowcost printing press) for $32.

1939
Alberta students score
well on the first Uniform
Final Exam (UFE).

1935
ICAA decides to recommend a prescribed
course of study for students the Queens
University correspondence course.

CMA

1940
Membership reaches 150, representing an
increase in national power Alberta sends three
voting representatives to the annual meeting of the
Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants.

1930
The organizations
name is changed to the
Canadian Society of
Cost Accountants and
Industrial Engineers.

1941
Provincial societies in Ontario and Quebec
are formed, with the power to grant the
newly established professional designation
of Registered Industrial Accountant (RIA).
1943
The Calgary Chapter is formed.
1938
The Edmonton chapter is formed.

CGA

1932
Ivy Cox becomes the associations
first female CGA.

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

Edmonton may be the


most northern Chapter of
the Society but it should
be one of the liveliest
Chapters in the Dominion.

Cost and Management, November 1938,


on the formation of the
Edmonton chapter

March 24, 1944


The Alberta Society is incorporated as the Society of Industrial Accountants of Alberta.

1947
Imperial Oil discovers the Leduc No. 1
oil well, kick-starting
the biggest oil boom
in Albertas history.

1953
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

1946
The end of the Second World
War marks the beginning of
profound growth for the entire
profession of accounting.

1946
Creation of the first electronic, general
purpose computer. It fills a 10 by 15
metre room and weighs 30,000 kilograms.

1950
Birth of the Internet, originally a project
by the U.S. government to enable communication in case of a nuclear attack.

October 1957
The Soviet Union
launched Sputnik
1, the first satellite
to orbit the Earth.

1955
Black-and-white TVs become
popular. CBC and Radio-Canada
TV stations begin broadcasting.

1950
1949
Dorothy Reid becomes the
first female Alberta CA.

1950
ICAA membership reaches 250 and
explodes over the decade, reaching
500 in 1956 and 814 in 1960.

1954
Three technical sessions are introduced
at the annual meeting to help members
keep up with the increasing complexity
of the profession.

1953
Council places the first
advertisement of successful UFE candidates
in the newspapers.

1956
Members vote to make
it mandatory to pay
articling students at
least $100 a month.

1948
The name of the national organization is changed to
Society of Industrial and Cost Accountants of Canada.
July 8, 1949
The Society of Cost and Industrial Accountants
holds an annual meeting in Banff, the first time the
Society had met outside of Ontario and Quebec.
December 8, 1949
Anne Maria Boyer of Montreal becomes the
first woman admitted to RIA membership.

1945
Association membership stands at 1,253
and there are chapters from coast to
coast. Provincial and territorial associations are later established under their own
charters, including the Certified General
Accountants Association, Canada Prairie
Region, which later becomes CGA Alberta.

Sixty-four years later, there


are 3,240 female members of
CMA Alberta, out of a total
membership of 7,658. Of the
2012 Convocation class, 175
are female, 140 male.

1950
A standardized, nationwide curriculum
developed with the University of British
Columbia is introduced.

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

LOOKING BACK
EVENTS

1958
The provincial auditor begins the
Alberta governments first serious study into using computers,
exploring the advantages of a
computerized payment system.

February 15, 1965


A new Canadian
flag is adopted with
the 11-pointed red
maple leaf.

1966
The University of Calgary is established when an
existing college, the Calgary branch of the University of Alberta, gains autonomy as a university.
Its School of Business is founded a year later.

October 10, 1958


The TransCanada pipeline
is completed, making it
the longest in the world.

TECH

1961
The worlds first all-electronic desktop calculator is produced.
1962
Invention of audiotape cassettes.

1960

CA

1960
The Alberta CA profession
celebrates its 50th anniversary
by hosting the national annual
conference in Banff.
1960
The first ICAA continuing
education classes are held and
the first CICA and ICAA directors
of education are hired.

1963
ICAA membership reaches 1,000.
1964
The Institute launches it first quarterly
newsletter and a new subcommittee to
deal with recruitment.

CMA

CGA

10

1967
The University of Lethbridge
is first established.

1961
The Certified General Accountants Association
(Canada-Prairie Region) is incorporated under
the Societies Act of Alberta with 11 certified
members and 66 students. The total national
population consists of 1,135 certified members
and 1,881 students. The new association
administers the affairs of CGA members in
Alberta as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

1967
The Western CA Course of
Instruction is launched,
with 16 subject areas.

July 1969
Apollo 11 lands the first
humans on the moon.

1970
Canada starts to go metric.

1971
Peter Lougheeds Progressive
Conservative party topples the Social
Credit party, going on to steer Alberta
through one of its largest booms.

1972
Offices started using teletype
machines to enter and process the
data of early personal computers.

1970
1970
On September 1, a landmark decision goes into
effect that all students
entering the Institute must
have a university degree.

1971
The first annual one-week professional
development session is held in Banff in
the fall. The ICAA continues to develop
leading-edge courses; by 1975, six
computer-related courses are offered.
1973
The ICAA holds three pilot
tax clinics. CAs also organize
public tax forums.

1968
The name is changed to the Society
of Industrial Accountants of Canada.
1968
The CMA Coordinating Educational Committee publishes a study
called The Nature and Scope of Accounting, which evaluated the
nature of the accounting function looking toward the economic
and technological environment of the 1980s. The report highlights
the need for accountants to become proficient in fields beyond the
traditional accounting, auditing and related courses. As a result,
the organization identifies new fields of knowledge which accountants would require, including behavioural sciences, analysis and
communication and legal aspects of business and management.

1969
An office is established in Calgary.

Early 70s
CMA forms a national committee to
change the name of the organization.
As the future role of the RIA would
be in managing and using accounting information rather than simply
providing information, the concept of
management accounting becomes the
focal point for the committee. At this
time, the organizations members were
outgrowing the term industrial as
demographics showed 25 per cent of
members were employed in government
and 35 per cent in service industries.

1971
The Alberta Education Committee
produces a new curriculum to address
the needs identified in the 1968 study.

As long as CMAA stays alert,


adaptable and able a triple
A organization well be
able to stay on top of what
business needs.

May 25, 1973


The Certified General Accountants Association of
Manitoba is incorporated
by a special act of the
Manitoba Legislature.

Bill Easton, CMA

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

11

LOOKING BACK
EVENTS

1979
The University of Alberta establishes
the Francis G. Winspear Chair
of Accounting, one of the first
accounting professorships in Canada.
1980
The National Energy
Program is introduced by
the Trudeau government.

TECH

CA

CMA

CGA

1980
1974
The Institute presents a
report to government on the
role and responsibilities of
the provincial auditor. The
majority of the Institutes recommendations for creating
the office of the Provincial
Auditor General are accepted.

In 1974
The National Committee for the
name change recommends that
the name of the Canadian and
Provincial societies be changed
to the Society of Management
Accountants and the designation
be changed to Certified
Management Accountants.

1980
Membership approves a mandatory
practice review program.
1981
The ICAA makes its first
formal statement on a
public issue in response
to the National Energy
Program announced in
the 1980 federal budget.

1976
The national and provincial societies
approve the name the Society of
Management Accountants.

1974
The Manitoba Association begins to
administer its own affairs, independently from the Alberta Association.
1974
CGA-Canada approves what would
become the Code of Ethical
Principles and Rules of Conduct.
The national office relocates to
Vancouver from Montreal.

12

Vision Alberta

1981
IBM introduces its PC
Model 5150, sparking
widespread adoption
of personal computers.

Special Commemorative Issue

1977
The national organizations name
is changed to the Society of Management Accountants of Canada.

In 1979
The provincial society becomes the
Society of Management Accountants of
Alberta. Six founding members of the
Alberta Society are honoured as Fellows of the National Society: Kenneth
Biggs (for more on Kenneth Biggs,
see story on p. 31), Patrick Bowsher,
Douglas Campbell, Adrian McDonald,
Walter Nobbs and Raymond Zimmel.

1977
The Certified General
Accountants Association of the
Northwest Territories is registered
under the Societies Ordinance of
the Northwest Territories.

1979
The Saskatoon office is
officially opened and the
Certified General Accountants
Association of Saskatchewan
is incorporated.

1977
CGA-Canada becomes a founding
member of the International
Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

1982
Canadas Constitution Act,
which includes the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, comes into effect.

1986
Oil prices crash, resulting
in widespread layoffs and
crumbling real estate prices.

1985
The first dot-com domain
name is registered.

1989
Tim Berners-Lee develops HyperText Markup Language (HTML),
giving rise to the World Wide Web.

1990
1982 1983
The Chartered Accountants
Education Foundation (CAEF)
is established to advance
exciting education initiatives
for the Alberta CA profession.

1986
The first public representative,
Ralph A. Thrall Jr., of Lethbridge,
is appointed to Council.
1987
Royal assent is given to the Chartered
Accountants Act, ensuring accountability and standards in the accounting
profession in Alberta. ICAA membership
reaches 5,000.

1985
The change in designation
from RIA to CMA occurs,
positioning CMAs as leaders
with both accounting knowledge and management
strength. It defines the CMA
specialization and positions
the profession for the future.

1988
The CAEF launches
the funding for the
CA Chair at the University of Alberta.

This is the story of an


organization that grew
from the spark of an
idea that was right for
the times and spread
because it adapted to
the winds of change.

J. Nelson Allan, History of the Society


of Management Accountants, 1982

1982
At the national level, the General Accountants Association becomes the Certified
General Accountants Association.

1987 1991
A major revision of the education
program, known as Program 90, is completed. Competency-based objectives,
management emphasis and integration
of ethics and information technology become hallmarks of the revised program.
1987
CGA becomes a brand. CGA is registered
under the federal Trademark Act, providing
national and provincial recognition.

The more visible your


designation is to the public
and other professionals, the
more recognition you and the
Society will receive through
their awareness.

Society president Barry Costello, to the 1983


Convocation Class of Alberta RIAs, The Accounter
(the Society newsletter), November 1983

1988
The CGA Act is proclaimed as Law in Alberta,
providing legal protection of the title Certified General Accountant. It assures CGAs
the right to perform audits and reviews and
maintains the right to self-governance.
1988
The John Leslie Award is established
in honour of the associations founding president and chair. The award
recognizes exceptional service.
Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

13

LOOKING BACK
EVENTS

1991
GST introduced
in Canada.

1993
Kim Campbell becomes Canadas
first female prime minister.

1991
The euro launches as online currency.
In 2002, it becomes legal tender.

2001
Enron collapses in the largest
business failure in corporate
history. This and subsequent business
scandals. lead to public disillusionment
in capital markets. The accounting profession responds swiftly to restore public
confidence by introducing stringent new
standards and governance reform.

1994
The North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) is established by the governments
of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

1992
Ralph Klein elected as premier, embracing policies of deregulation, fiscal restraint and low taxes.

TECH

CA

CMA

1995
Microsoft releases Windows 95

1999
The term Wi-Fi becomes part of the
computing language and users begin
connecting to the Internet without wires.

2000
1992
Dr. Lane Daley becomes
the first professor to
hold the CA Chair at the
University of Alberta.

1994
The CICA launches
a new branding
strategy, Strength
beyond numbers.
ICAA membership
passes 6,000.

1996
Ann Rooney FCA of
Calgary becomes
ICAAs first female
president, following
in the footsteps
of her father, John
Rooney FCA, who
served as president
in 1968.

1991
An Affiliation Agreement between the national organization and the provincial and
territorial affiliates further defines their respective roles and responsibilities.
1992
The Alberta Securities Commission acknowledges the equality of CGAs
and their right to conduct audits of public companies.

1998
Lifetime Achievement Awards are
added to the prestigious Merit
Awards Program. First to be honoured are Elvin Christenson FCA,
Eric Geddes FCA, Doug Hagerman
FCA, and Jim Miller FCA.

1998
A national requirement is instituted for
CGAs to obtain a bachelors degree prior to
certification. Partnerships are developed
with universities to provide distancelearning options for degree completion.

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2000
In the year of its 90th
anniversary, ICAA attains
several milestones membership reaches 7,000,
the Western provinces
launch the CA School of
Business, and Continuing
Professional Education,
demonstrating dedication to lifelong learning,
becomes mandatory.

2001
The Regulated Accounting Profession Act (RAPA) is enacted. This
act brings governance of the three
accounting designations in Alberta
under a single piece of legislation.

2006
The Accounting Standards Board ratifies a new strategic
plan for the future of Canadas accounting standards,
including a key decision to adopt international accounting rules for Canadas publicly traded companies.

September 11, 2001


Terrorist attacks hit New York
City and Washington, D.C.

2007
Apple launches the iPhone.

December 9, 2014
The Chartered Professional
Accountants Act is passed by the
Legislative Assembly of Alberta.
December 17, 2014
The CPA Act receives Royal Assent.
Once proclaimed, the act will establish
the CPA designation in Alberta and
create a single, unified regulatory body
for the CPA profession in the province.

2010
Apple unveils the iPad.

2010
2001
The University of Calgary and ICAA
establish the Richard F. Haskayne
OC FCA Chair in Accounting.

2006
A national advertising campaign, running
under the banner of The CA Advantage
is launched. The CICA joins eight of the
worlds leading accounting organizations to
form the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA).

2003
First CA School of Business students to write the
national UFE achieve an exemplary pass rate of
83 per cent the highest in all of Canada
marking the success of the innovative CASB
program, launched in June 2001.

In 2010
The ICAA celebrates its centennial anniversary
and 100 years for the CA profession in Alberta.

2007
A new CA logo is launched.
Also in this year, the expansion
of pre-qualification education
is approved by ICAA members.

2006
The CMA Competency Map
is introduced, serving as
a resource for education
and program planning.

At its founding in 1938, the members of the


Edmonton Chapter of CMA Alberta faced the task
of combating the effects of the Great Depression.
The same innovative thinking that brought
success then is what allows us to find the creative
solutions that overcome todays challenges.
Message from Premier Alison Redford, congratulating
the Edmonton Chapter on its 75th anniversary

2004
The CGA Alberta Research and Education Foundation is established to conduct, fund and promote
research in the field of accounting, commerce and
related public policy issues, as well as provide
scholarships to students in the CGA program.
2004
Vision 2020, a broad-based, multi-year
research partnership is launched by the CGA
Alberta Research and Education Foundation
and the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

2008
CGA Canada celebrates
its 100th anniversary.

2011
CGA Alberta celebrates
its 50th anniversary.

CGAs are a vital part of our province and our country. Their skills
and knowledge will be counted on to provide direction and strategic
leadership to Albertas organizations. Their advice will move
markets and the futures of businesses, in Canada and beyond.
CGA Alberta CEO John Carpenter, MBA, FCGA,
in his address to the 2011 graduating class

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

15

ACCOUNTING THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Patricia, Barry, Lindsay and Brenda Burgess

16

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

Family

For these three families,


accounting is a multigenerational affair

FIRST
AN ACCOUNTING FOUNDATION HAS
MEANT A LIFETIME OF OPPORTUNITY
FOR THE BURGESS FAMILY
BY Colleen Seto

OR THE BURGESSES, ACCOUNTING

is a family affair one that


spans three generations.
Barry Burgess became the
first accountant in the family, having
achieved the Registered Industrial Accountant (RIA) designation in 1967 (which later
changed to CMA). It was a call of duty
of sorts as it happened while he was in
the military. I was selected by the Royal
Canadian Navy to attend an accelerated
program provided through Carleton University, he says. With his RIA, Barry went
on to hold several senior posts at the
Government of Alberta.
For his wife, Patricia, accounting meant
a complete career change. She had a
background in music education, and
wanted to pursue a new livelihood in the
business world. As the business environment is constantly changing, I saw an
opportunity in the accounting profession
that required creative strategic development, she recalls. Patricia felt the CMA

designation offered the most comprehensive business course of education and


earned hers in 1985.
Following in their footsteps would be
daughter, Brenda, who became a CMA
in 1992 (now both hold FCMAs). Most
recently, in 2008, granddaughter Lindsay,
Brendas niece, joined the CMA ranks.
And theyve kept the accounting talent all
in the family with their practice.
In 1983, Patricia and Brenda started
Burgess & Associates, a public accounting
practice based in Edmonton, now with a
satellite office in St. Albert. At that time,
neither of them had yet completed their
accounting designations. But that didnt
deter them. I was fresh out of school
[with an undergrad in economics] and my
mother was looking for a change, recalls
Brenda. Starting our own accounting business was an opportunity and we grasped
it. We come from a family where weve
been surrounded by entrepreneurial spirit.
It dates back to my grandmother, who had

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

17

ACCOUNTING THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

My dad was at
the forefront
with the
leadership
skills, and
passed that
down. It was
then up to each
of us to take
it in whatever
direction we
wanted.
- BRENDA BURGESS

18

Vision Alberta

a pie business to help support her family


while my grandfather was away at war.
With that can-do spirit and Barry
providing oversight and capital, they were
off. Mother and daughter began with two
clients a tea shop and an architect firm.
From the get-go, Burgess & Associates
went beyond traditional accounting and
tax compliance. It integrated management
accounting concepts and procedures.
This has been the forte of our practice,
asserts Brenda.
And while that focus remains the same,
other aspects of their business have
transformed completely. In my time,
how our business operates has changed
significantly, says Brenda. When we
started, we used carbon paper! Technology has changed how our practice runs,
standards have changed significantly and
taxes change every year.
As the youngest generation, Lindsay
played a critical role in growing the firm
and improving efficiencies, especially with
technology. She joined the practice when
she was still in high school, first in administration, progressing to bookkeeping, and
eventually to a senior associate. Once I
had my undergrad, I had the opportunity
to be mentored by my Aunt Brenda and my
grandmother. There was no pressure the
opposite actually. I saw the value in that
opportunity and in the profession. In particular, I was drawn to the CMA because
it allowed me to develop additional skills
in management practices and leadership.
Theres a lot of flexibility in terms of a career path with an accounting designation,
and theres so many different ways you
can take it.
The firm offers the groundwork for
sound business practices, not only for its
clients but also for the family members,
including the non-accountants. We have
a lot of diversity in the family; there are
a number of different business owners,
says Brenda. We recognize the value of
the foundation the accounting business
has provided. My dad was at the forefront
with the leadership skills, and passed
that down. It was then up to each of us to
take it in whatever direction we wanted.
In Lindsays case, shes chosen to pursue law and is currently in her third year

Special Commemorative Issue

of the Juris Doctor program at the University of Alberta. Having an accounting


background gives me an edge as a future
lawyer, she affirms. I have a working
knowledge of financial practices that is of
great benefit in legal applications. I bring
a lot to the table because of my accounting designation.
And while shes always had her sights
set on being a lawyer, Lindsay has no
regrets about getting her CMA. Im glad
I went the route I went. It was important
to get the exposure in business before
pursuing my law degree.
The family has also seen the profession
change in the type of work it involves and
skills it requires. The profession is far
more diverse than it used to be and driven
by the marketplace, emphasizes
Brenda. We find that as the global marketplace has opened up, so has the required
knowledge in the accounting profession.
You need a vast knowledge; the market
demands it, and weve answered the call.
Its allowed me to wear a lot of
different hats, continues Brenda, who
has also worked as a university educator.
Its not the traditional path that existed
30-plus years ago. We dont sit in a room
and just audit.
When it comes to the future of accounting, Brenda is particularly excited
about the unification of the accounting
profession in Canada, having worked on
several committees as a CMA representative. Given the evolution of the global
standards and the demands of the marketplace, the time is right to move forward
with a common national voice, she says.
We can make use of our pooled resources
to continue to evolve the profession.
And while Lindsays future takes her
into the world of law, having worked in
the family accounting business has been
hugely beneficial. Being able to work with
and be mentored by talented people Ive
known my whole life is the best part of
working with family, she says. The tricky
part is to find the separation between
business and family.
Brenda agrees. You need to learn to
turn the business part off because that
focus can be there all the time. But in the
end, its family first.

ACCOUNTING THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

Passing

TORCH
THE

BRAD AND JEFF BOESE SAW OPPORTUNITY


IN THEIR FATHERS GROWING
ACCOUNTING BUSINESS
BY Steve Macleod

RAD BOESE STILL RECALLS

the life lessons his father


passed onto him and his
siblings at the dinner table.
I remember Dad talking about the
importance of being confidential with the
people that came to our office and what
we heard them say, says the 35-yearold, who grew up in Pincher Creek,
Alberta. We had to be respectful of the
people we dealt with.
Its a valuable life lesson, and also an
important business practice that Brad
and his older brother Jeff continue to follow after taking over the family business
from their father.
Roy Boese established Boese & Co.
LLP Certified General Accountants in
1978 as a one-man operation. He slowly

grew the firm over the years, providing


accounting services to local businesses.
By the time his two sons took over as
partners of the firm in 2012, Boese &
Co. was one of the largest accounting
firms in the southern Alberta town.
Roys interest in becoming an accountant was piqued during high school after
he took a few bookkeeping and accounting courses. Not long after graduating,
he pursued his CGA designation while
working for an agriculture equipment
manufacturer in Linden, Alberta. The
manufacturer consolidated its accounting
department in Saskatoon, and Roy stayed
on for a short time as branch manager before joining an accounting firm in
Calgary. He stayed for one year, while
his wife was training to be a registered

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

19

ACCOUNTING THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

We sit down
with our clients
to figure out
their goals and
ideas and then
come up with
plans to help
them achieve
them. Were
always working
with them.
- JEFF BOESE

20

Vision Alberta

nurse, before migrating further south


to Pincher Creek.
The rest of my family was here in
Pincher Creek and my background was
more rural, says the 68-year-old, who
officially retired in 2012 but still works
at the family firm. I liked the smalltown atmosphere.
Roy was just 30 when he moved
to Pincher Creek and launched his
firm. He didnt have ambitious growth
plans and let word-of-mouth about his
expertise and customer service do the
talking for him. I started small instead
of pushing. I had one client and then
two, and ended up making a pretty
good living, says Roy. Its interesting
how accounting works; you have one
client and if it goes well, the next thing
you know, you have 15 calling you up.
Business was good enough to let
both Jeff and Brad work at Boese &
Co. after high school, although neither
grew up knowing they would follow
in their fathers footsteps. When Jeff
joined his father at the firm after high
school, he identified with the respect
his father had earned over the years
and saw an opportunity to grow with
the company.
He was a man who kept his word,
operated with integrity and a man
people trusted, says the 41-year-old.
I saw a wide open opportunity and
job security.
Jeff stayed (working with his father)
in Pincher Creek and earned a degree studying by correspondence at
Athabasca University. That way I could
work through school and graduate with
no student loans, Jeff says.
Brad also studied by correspondence
after high school, taking classes at
Athabasca University before finishing up
at Laurentian University. I spent a few
years right out of high school working other jobs, so I wasnt sure [I would become
an accountant] but at 19 or 20 I knew
and really started focusing on my degree
and accounting, Brad says. I took a
little longer to decide to pursue this.
Business for the Boeses has grown
steadily and more young accountants

Special Commemorative Issue

have since joined the firm. By 2010,


Boese & Co. had four employees. Just
five years later there are eight employees, including seven accountants.
Working in a small town, the Boeses
specialize in working with small,
owner-operated businesses. Their clients
come from a variety of fields, including
agriculture, construction, oil and gas,
manufacturing, tourism, retail, commodity exporting and professional services.
When youre in a small town, you do it
all, says Jeff. Its never a boring day and
you get a wide range of experience.
Their work includes everything
from personal taxes which make
up a small portion of the companys
business to year-end financial statements, corporate tax planning, acquisitions and negotiations.
Its a very successful region and we
are part of the local businesses management teams, Jeff says. We sit down
with our clients to figure out their goals
and ideas and then come up with plans
to help them achieve them. Were always
working with them.
Succession planning is another major
focus for many of their clients. The family
itself went through the exercise back
in 2012 when Jeff and Brad bought out
their father to become the partners of
Boese & Co.
With that transition still fresh, there are
no plans for the companys next succession, but there are some possibilities.
If our kids dont want to get into the
business, then we have some tremendous
staff that we could work into it, Jeff says.
About 60 per cent of the firms clients
are in the Pincher Creek region, but they
have clients across Alberta including
some in Linden where Roy lived and
worked more than 35 years ago.
The success of Boese & Co. has
caught the attention of larger accounting firms looking to expand into Pincher
Creek. Its been our choice to stay a
small family firm because we like the
flexibility of being a small business, says
Jeff. We value our family time and if we
want to take a day off or spend time with
our family, we can.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Brad, Jeff and Roy Boese

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

21

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Don, David, Bill and John Fowlis (seated)

22

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

All in the

FAMILY
FOR THE FOWLIS FAMILY, ACCOUNTING
PROVIDED A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR
AMBITIOUS CAREER PATHS
BY Samus Smyth

HE FOWLIS FAMILY MAY HAVE

been in the accounting world


for over three generations, but
at a typical family dinner, the
conversation is usually less about numbers and more about current events and
sports. John Fowlis, his two sons, Don
and Bill, and now Bills son David, are all
Alberta-based Chartered Accountants.
John, now retired, was first exposed
to accounting through his father who
came to Canada in 1912. His father
worked in the accounting and budgeting
field in what would eventually become
CN Rail.
For every member in the family, it
was less about a strength in adding

and subtracting numbers, and more about


the opportunity to lead a career full of
growth and change. What attracted me
to the field was the education program
that they had in Manitoba and the people
and the contacts that you could meet,
says the eldest member of the family.
John started his career as an articling
student in 1948 in Winnipeg at a local
firm named Miller Macdonald (now part of
Deloitte). He joined Peat Marwick Mitchell
in 1954, which would become KPMG, and
eventually forged a path to Alberta, where
he served as lead partner on audits for
the cities of Edmonton and Calgary. After
his retirement from KPMG in 1989, he
worked in management and on special

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

23

ALL IN THE FAMILY

When I
did get my
designation,
the whole
family
was there.
Everybody
recognizes how
valuable it is
going forward
and how much
hard work I
have had to
put in.
- DAVID FOWLIS

24

Vision Alberta

projects for the Calgary Stampede, with a


focus on horse racing and rodeo.
His two sons, Don and Bill, both used
accounting as a concrete foundation for
ambitious career paths within the province. Don went to the University of Illinois
at Chicago on a hockey scholarship before
returning to the University of Alberta to
obtain his bachelor of commerce.
I think it gives you a pretty good
business background. The whole CA
process allows you to see a number of
different businesses and gain a variety of
experiences, says Don of his accounting
background.
The accounting bedrock, combined with
his sheer competitiveness, were assets
allowing Don to reach impressive heights
in Albertas business world. I just wanted
to be part of a business and to be able
to grow a company, says Don, who now
serves as the chief financial officer of
Gibson Energy.
His brother Bill practised in public accounting for five years before returning to
school to pursue a career in law. I liked
the opportunities that it would provide it
was a great set of skills that you learned,
to be used in many different ways and it
was a great foundation to start with, Bill
says about the CA designation.
He now has a distinguished hybrid
practice as a lawyer and accountant with
Miller Thomson LLP, making him particularly valuable to clients. I use the skills
that I have as an accountant to interpret
finances and advise people about tax
and legal matters using that skill set, he
explains. Law and accounting are very
complementary.
He was recently awarded his Fellow of
the Chartered Accountants (FCA) designation as well as the designation of Queens
Counsel, which honours lawyers who
demonstrate exemplary service to the
Canadian legal system.
With all of the high achievers in the
family, one would think Bills son and
youngest CA-carrying member would feel
the pressure, but it hasnt been the case.
When I did get my designation, the
whole family was there. Everybody recognizes how valuable it is going forward and how
much hard work I have had to put in, says

Special Commemorative Issue

David. One of the many benefits to having


a family with so many CAs in it is that everybody has been through it. So, they can
say Oh, I remember when I did that.
Times have certainly shifted for accountants, with technology playing a vital
role over the past decade. I think it is a
lot more difficult to go offline. If you can
take your work home with you, that has
become a bit more of an expectation. Now
that everything is digital, you can work
from anywhere and you have to contend
with the expectation that you can work at
any time, says David.
His father says one great surprise is that
he never anticipated typing so fervently
every day and is thankful he prepared with
a high school typing class. It is much
more virtual communications, less meetings and more conference calls, emails,
texts it is much different in terms of how
people communicate, he says.
In the midst of all that change, the
family believes accounting standards
are higher than ever. Every new generation that comes along has to be able to
meet the current challenges of the day,
which is really no different from what the
others have done, says John. Carry
yourself with integrity I dont think that
has changed.
The family looks forward to unification
of the profession. I dont think it serves
professionals well to have three different
designations and all are calling themselves accountants. The general public
doesnt know the difference, says Don.
I think it is good for the profession. It has
been well-thought-out over many years and
I think its time we get on with it.
Whatever happens in the future, John
says the key traits of the accounting
profession will not change. The vast
majority of those in our profession do get
out and they contribute not just to earn
their own paycheque but to help others in
many ways.
Whether it is a position for the arts,
a cultural event or a competitive sport,
the accounting world is ready to help by
volunteering their time and expertise,
even if its for the same position over all
these years for better or worse as the
treasurer, says John with a laugh.

Q&A: SOME OF THE PROFESSIONS MOST ACCOMPLISHED MEMBERS REFLECT ON A LIFETIME OF ACHIEVEMENTS

WORLD

Traveller

RAY HARRISS LENGTHY ACCOUNTING CAREER HAS TAKEN


HIM AROUND THE WORLD AND DOESNT SEE HIM
STOPPING ANYTIME SOON

BY Colleen Seto

OR RAY G. HARRIS,

accounting has and continues to


play a defining role in his life. In 1947, he began his
accounting career in Alberta with Winspear, Hamilton,
Anderson & Company, an early predecessor of Deloitte
& Touche. He spent 45 years there, playing a critical role in
several firm mergers and was honoured with Fellowship in 1968.
He advanced to senior positions in the Toronto national office
where he retired as chairman in 1992. Since retirement, he has
consulted on several international projects, taking him to China,
Indonesia, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. He served as a
director on several boards, both commercial and charitable, and
was also the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants
of Alberta and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
He continues to work with the CPAs of Ontario on accounting and
auditing standards. Vision Alberta talked to Ray about his career
from its earliest days.
Vision Alberta: How did you get your start in accounting?
RAY HARRIS: I started at business college in Edmonton. After two
months, I decided I certainly wasnt going to be a typist. Accounting seemed like it might be interesting, and it was something I
could understand. I ended up being hired [by Winspear, Hamilton,
Anderson & Company] and thats when I went to Calgary and
started my world travels. [Laughs] I was a student accountant
doing what we used to call grunt work all the detail work in
accounting and auditing.
VA: Are you still working now?
RH: I retired in 1992, but somehow, I keep working. Im still a consultant. I do a fair amount of work for CPA Ontario, investigating

complaints with respect to accounting and


auditing standards. I sit on a few boards. I
enjoy what I do.
VA: What were some of the most
dramatic shifts you saw over the
course of your career?
RH: The thing that really stands out in
my mind and Im still dealing with it now,
is the development and codification of
accounting standards. Becoming involved
with international accounting standards
that was a real eye-opener.
When I started, the accounting standards consisted of 10 different standards.
Today, we have books full of them. Business has become so much more complex
and thats what required accounting to
change to meet those complexities. We
had to have more documented standards
for how you dealt with them. Its not near
so simple as it used to be.
VA: What was one of the most memorable moments from your career?
RH: I guess the highlight was finally becoming a real CA. After five years of taking
correspondence courses from Queens,
graduation was certainly a highlight!
(continued on page 28)

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

25

Sylvia Ahn

Xi (Cassie) Chen

Mitchell Kennedy

Ashley Crabb

Zain Farooq

Laura Gibbs

Jacquelyn Kleinlugtenbeld Alex Lee

Kristine Lee

Cory Lefebvre

Marden Litchfield

Paulveer Manesh

Alexander May

Ryan McKim

Cynthia Richert

Prabhleen Saini

Amy Stiksma

Ryan Wachter

Yi Yang

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Q&A

tirement. He asked me to help with a


proposal for a project in China, and asked
me to lead the team if we won the job. Lo
and behold, we won the job. So I moved to
Beijing for three years.
What I knew about China when I took
the job could fit on the back of a matchbook. It was a very educational experience
for me. Had I known such things existed, I
would have retired five or 10 years earlier!
It was a very enjoyable time with wonderful
people and great work.

Ray Harris
(continued from page 25)
And then, of course, becoming a partner in the firm.
VA: What is one of the earliest memories you have working in
the field? How were things different in those early days?
RH: When I started out, we spent a lot of time travelling from town
to town doing work for local businesses. We had to assemble
records out of boxes with invoices and cancelled cheques. You
dont see that kind of thing anymore now with computers. Businesses are much more organized now. There are more tools at
your disposal to do your accounting records.
In those days, all the firms were in the major cities so we had
to spend a lot of time on the road and in hotel rooms; we had lots
of fun doing it though!
VA: What has your designation meant to you?
RH: Its meant a fantastic business experience, a very comfortable
living and getting to work with lots of different people, businesses
and countries.
VA: If you could change one thing about your career, what
would it be?
RH: Not sure I would have done very much different. I might have
gotten involved in the international work earlier so I could have
travelled more. But I didnt suffer a lot; all of the work I did, especially the mergers, it was all a lot of fun.
VA: Youve done some remarkable international work,
particularly with the World Bank. What was that like?
RH: I got a call from a partner in Washington right before re-

28

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

VA: Do you have any advice to give new


accountants who are just starting out?
RH: Dedication to continuing education is
something that is extremely important in
the profession. You have to be prepared
for hard work. Its very demanding at
times. But great results come from meeting those demands, personally and from a
monetary point of view. Be flexible, open to
change and accepting of new situations.
VA: Whats the biggest misconception
people have about the accounting
profession?
RH: That its something that requires a degree
in mathematics, and its all number crunching.
What it requires is interpersonal skills and an
ability to keep learning how to learn.
VA: What are you most proud of in your
career?
RH: The fact that I was instrumental in
developing our western Canadian firm into
a national and international firm. Certainly
I didnt do it myself but I took part and Im
very proud of that.
VA: What is one word you would use to
describe the kind of accountant you are?
RH: Im certain that my former partners
would have a number of different words
but all I can come up with is professional.
VA: What do you see for the future of
accounting?
RH: Its going to continue to develop and
change, and do so more and more rapidly.
No mistake about that.

GO NORTH

Young Man
GRANT HINCHEY BUILT HIS CAREER BY FOLLOWING HIS SENSE
OF ADVENTURE REGARDLESS OF THE CLIMATE

BY Robbie Jeffrey

RANT HINCHEY

is the kind of person who knows what


his supermarket bill will be by the time he reaches
the counter. He retired in 2006 after a varied and
successful career as an accountant, spending 18
years in public practice in B.C. before braving the extreme cold
in Yellowknife, where he spent the remainder of his career. He
became president of the Alberta CGA association while there, in
addition to stints as chairman and CEO of the N.W.T. Workers
Compensation Board and on the Canada Revenue Agency board of
management. Today, his son is a partner at the firm Grant bought
when he moved to Yellowknife in 1973, and he and his wife Marilyn recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in Budapest. But while Grant is enjoying his retirement, he still praises his
industry for the opportunities it provided him. Some people think
theyre just going to be stuck doing books or audits for their whole
life, he says. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Vision Alberta: How did you originally become interested in
accounting?
Grant Hinchey: In my high school yearbook, they asked the usual
questions. One of them was, What do you want to be? And I said
a Chartered Accountant (CA). I really dont know why because I
didnt know anybody who was in the profession. It just so happened that I had a couple of spare periods during high school, so I
took accounting and found it extremely easy. It was very logical.
VA: How did your career begin?
GH: After high school I worked for a couple of years, and then I
went to Mount Royal College in Calgary and took business admin-

istration. I ended up as an office manager


for a Calgary linen supply company, but I
wanted to go into the accounting profession so I decided to take the Certified Public Accountant program. At that time, it was
handled out of the University of Western
Ontario. It took me six months to get the
university to recognize my matriculation,
which I took in Alberta. So I ended up going
to an independent firm in Kelowna that
had no designation, but aside from being
accountants, they were also notaries and
trustees in bankruptcy. I ended up taking
the Certified General Accountant program
out of the University of British Columbia.
I was in B.C. in public practice at a firm
called Thompson Accounting Services for
18 years. I managed the firm for about
14 of those, and then I either wanted to
buy the firm or change. I had a number of
opportunities but had, for one reason or
another, always had a desire to go north.
So my wife Marilyn and I went to Yellowknife in February 1973 to take a look at
it, and I felt the potential was very good.
My wife was born in Rossland and raised
in Kelowna, and when we got off the plane
it was -48 C. But still, we packed up and
moved there in July of that year. And we

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

29

Q&A

I HAD AN INSATIABLE APPETITE


FOR READING TAX MANUALS,
WHICH MY WIFE COULD NEVER
UNDERSTAND. IF WE WENT AWAY
ON A HOLIDAY, ID TAKE TAX
MANUALS WITH ME.

Grant Hinchey
were in Yellowknife for 30 years.
VA: Did you have any expectations for the path your career
would take?
GH: No, I was very open about it. I knew I didnt want to spend my
life doing audits; I wanted variety and found that in the smaller
practice. I had an insatiable appetite for reading tax manuals,
which my wife could never understand. If we went away on a holiday, Id take tax manuals with me.
VA: What did you enjoy early on in your career?
GH: I liked interacting with the customers and felt that a major part
of our role was to develop their knowledge and understanding of
what they could do if they managed their finances more effectively.
VA: What was the most dramatic shift in the industry that you
witnessed over the course of your career?
GH: When I was first up in the Arctic, we would go out and do
audits and we had to take our calculators, our bedrolls, and even
in some cases, food, because we worked in very small communities. And of course, the first computers used to weigh a ton. So
the computers of today have made life so much easier. I spent so
much time doing spreadsheets manually, so you had to develop
better mental skills. But now, you can do so much of it on the
computer that you can accomplish a lot more in less time.
VA: If you could change one thing about your career, what
would it be?
GH: I dont think I would change anything. I had a very good relationship with the commissioner of the N.W.T., and I was president

30

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

of CGA Alberta for a year and worked on


the Alberta board. Then, I was president
of Northwest Territories/Nunavut CGA four
times, and I was on the national board for
many years. I also spent three years as the
Canadian voting delegate to the IFAC. The
opportunities seemed to flow.
VA: What do you think about the
unification of the designations under
one banner?
GH: I think its great. One of the things
I used to find very frustrating is that we
had three national associations who were
fighting one another rather than working
together. I felt there were so many areas of
specialization that needed to be developed,
and we should be one organization providing excellent PD programs that enable our
individuals to provide excellent service to
their customer base.
VA: Looking back on your career, what
are you most proud of?
GH: Being presented with the John Leslie
Award by CGA Canada was a great honour.
The award is presented to someone who
has made a significant contribution to the
profession and public as a whole its
like a gold medal. Beyond that, Im proud
of my successful marriage, raising six
children and having 17 grandchildren and
one great-grandchild! The thing is, you
have to enjoy life and enjoy what youre
doing. Its essential that you get involved
in your community and take an active role,
because communities need that energy
coming into them to help them develop
and expand.

Grasping

Opportunity
ALWAYS BE WILLING TO REACH BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE, SAYS
KENNETH BIGGS, ONE OF THE PROVINCES MOST ACCOMPLISHED AND
INFLUENTIAL ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONALS
BY Kelly S. Thompson

ENNETH BIGGS nearly 60 years in the accounting

profession is proof that a career in numbers can be


rich, varied and satisfying.
His career spanned 1947 to 1995, with several
corporate and board roles, including director of Edmonton Telephones and Canadian Utilities and executive vice-president
at Oxford Development Group.
To give back to the profession that gave him so much, Ken, who
holds both a CA and CMA designation, began volunteering with
CMA in 1970 and later represented Canada on the International
Federation of Accountants Council. He has been recognized with
several major honours by both professional bodies, including Fellowship by both the CA and CMA bodies, a Distinguished Service
Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as receiving more
broad recognition with the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal.
Although his professional accomplishments are plentiful, his
career stands out for his dedication to giving back to both future
accountants and his community. For example, he served as chair
of the Salvation Army fundraising committee and worked on advisory groups for the accounting department at the University of
Alberta School of Business.
Ken is spending his retirement carefully managing his investment portfolio and dabbling in photography, a hobby that came
in handy during his world travels. With a career that provided
endless opportunities and a wife who supported him every step
of the way, he has been one of the most influential accountants,
philanthropists and professionals in Albertas history. Vision
Alberta talked to him about his accomplished career.

Vision Alberta: In a world where many


people shift careers several times over
their lives, what kept you working in
accounting?
KENNETH BIGGS: The training in the
accounting profession opens up a world
of business opportunities. One is not
limited to any one industry or to any
geographic location. Canadian professional
accounting designations are well
respected globally. As my career unfolded,
less time was spent on accounting and
more of each day was on matters related
to financial and general management.
VA: What were some of the most
dramatic professional shifts you saw
over the course of your career?
KB: The accounting profession evolved
from one primarily concerned with the
attest function, or public accounting, to
a broad business profession, encompassing financial and management accounting
spheres of activity. In Canada and globally,
a majority of professional accountants are
now engaged in activity other than public
accounting. Whereas in the 1950s, CMAs
would be focused on cost accounting, now

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

31

Q&A

IF ONE HAD THE LUXURY OF


REDOING, IT WOULD BE TO
HAVE GREATER CONFIDENCE
EARLIER IN MY CAREER TO TAKE
ON NEW CHALLENGES AND
STRETCH MORE TO
GRASP OPPORTUNITIES.

Kenneth Biggs

the field of expertise has broadened to management accounting


that covers a spectrum of management practices, including strategic planning and leadership skills necessary for the creation of
long-term value for enterprises.
VA: What is one of the earliest memories you have working in
your field? How were things different then?
KB: I can recall, without much pleasure, the struggle to close off
accounts and consolidate financial records in the time before
computers and computer software (or fax machines) in a company
with multiple divisions, subsidiaries and operations in a number
of countries.
VA: There is a scholarship in your name through the profession. How did this come to be? Why is it important to you?
KB: The scholarship is to assist aspiring management accountants who show leadership ability and involvement in community
or other activities. It is a way to extend my interest in management accounting by recognizing and encouraging talent to this
sector of the profession.
VA: What has your designation meant to you?
KB: Both the CMA and CA designations have opened doors to
career opportunities through the years. The training leading to
these designations laid the foundation and set the principles that
guided activity and all decision-making throughout my career.

32

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

VA: You serve, or have served, on several


charity boards and have done a lot of
volunteering. Why is giving back so vital in
both your personal and professional lives?
KB: Being involved in the profession or
community or in not-for-profit enterprises
all enrich life experiences and, in fact,
make you a better performer in your business posts. I found that much of what was
experienced from volunteer activity made
me much better equipped to manage challenges experienced in my business career.
VA: If you could change one thing about
your career or the way you worked, what
would it be?
KB: If one had the luxury of redoing, it
would be to have greater confidence earlier
in my career to take on new challenges
and stretch more to grasp opportunities.
The unfortunate consequences of accounting financial training is that one becomes
skilled in all things about risk and not
much about reaching out and taking on
new challenges.
VA: Do you have any advice to give new
accountants who are just starting out in
their careers?
KB: Be always willing to reach beyond
ones comfort zone. Never be satisfied
with what you know and what you have
achieved and consider what you need to
be better prepared to strengthen your
knowledge and acumen.

MEMBER
PROFILES

A PROUD
LEGACY

ITS MEANT A LOT MORE


FREEDOM, A LOT LESS FEAR,
A LOT MORE CHOICE
AND CAPACITY.
SONYA VON HEYKING
PAGE 43

Perspective. Versatility. Opportunity. These are just a


few of the words that the accounting professionals in
the pages that follow have used to sum up what their
designations have meant to them. Whether its CGA,
CMA, or CA, these credentials have left a profound
impact on the professionals who earned them. They
have served as a springboard to new opportunities
and led to long and fulfilling careers. They have
inspired them to mentor and teach others and give
back to the community. As legacy designations, they
have also helped to define the profession as it moves
toward unification into a single CPA designation. While
these accounting professionals are excited about the
future, they are equally proud of the designations
that have brought them to where they are today.
We asked accounting professionals the question:
In one or two words, what does your
designation mean to you? They answered
with some defining words that are
highlighted in the following pages.

VOLUNTEERING IS
IMPORTANT BECAUSE ITS
REWARDING PERSONALLY
AND YOU MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION.

IT GETS YOU THE SKILLS


YOU NEED TO SUCCEED AND
HELPS YOU THINK CRITICALLY
ABOUT EVERYTHING IN LIFE.
MARK WOLTERSDORF
PAGE 45

THE FUTURE OF
ACCOUNTING IS
VERY PROMISING.
RAFIK KURJI
PAGE 41

SANDRA KING
PAGE 39

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

33

CORNERSTONE
STELLA PENNER CA FCGA
STELLA PENNER WAS 18 WHEN SHE
started bookkeeping for her fathers agricultural feed manufacturing business in
Virden, Manitoba. She never received formal training in budget-balancing, but she
had a talent for numbers and her mother
taught her the basics: cost accounting,
year-end adjustments, and the standard
debits and credits.
In 1974 Stella moved to Winnipeg
and, based on strong references from her
fathers business auditors, got a job bookkeeping with a CA firm. Then, lured by
the promise of making more money in construction, she told the firm she would stay
only if she could do what the men were
doing. All the people in articling were

34

Vision Alberta

men and I was stuck doing bookkeeping,


she says. She learned she couldnt switch
to the audit team unless she was working
towards an accounting designation, so she
registered in the CGA program.
After a few months in the program,
Stella realized something: she genuinely
enjoyed it. I was getting good marks,
enjoying the work, and at some point
I thought, I like this. Why not do it for
a living?
Stella earned her CGA title in 1984 after moving to Edmonton. When the small
CA firm she worked with merged with a
national firm, she went for her CA designation so she could teach in the companys
professional development programs.

Special Commemorative Issue

| CALVISTA LLP

After various roles in teaching


accounting at the University of Alberta,
Mount Royal University and NAIT,
working in public practice, and a stint
in the 1990s as CEO of CGA Alberta,
Stella, now a partner at Calgary-based
Calvista LLP, says her designations
remain a meaningful part of her life.
Shes also excited for the future of the
CPA program. Ive been dreaming of
this day ever since I was with the CGA
Association, she says. I always hoped it
would happen in my lifetime and Im very
glad it happened before my career is over.
BY JEN JANZEN
PHOTO BY BOOKSTRUCKER

ORGANIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVE

W. DOUG WYLIE CMA ICD.D

| OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL

W. DOUG WYLIE HAS ALWAYS HAD


an entrepreneurial spirit. He originally
wanted to own and operate a business, but
his father convinced him to first attain an
accounting designation. That way, he would
have a solid career to fall back on if the entrepreneurial world didnt work out.
He chose the CMA route because of its focus on strategy and management accounting,
and was hired at the Office of the Auditor
General. He thought he would be there just
long enough to get his CMA designation, but
more than 25 years later and now the assistant
auditor general for Alberta, he doesnt plan on
going anywhere soon.
Its very challenging but its also very
interesting to be a legislative auditor, Doug
says, explaining that his office audits all
government departments, boards, agencies
and commissions. We have a unique role in
legislative accountability.
The office also assembles reports on issues
facing the province. A highlight for Doug
was the offices recent report on chronic disease management, which stood out because
its an important aspect of Albertas health
system impacting hundreds of thousands
of Albertans. This job bridges the gap
between business and accounting for me,
he says. Ive been able to see hundreds of
organizational structures and processes. Its
fascinating work.
Doug is often asked what makes a good
auditor. His answer? Curiosity and a desire to
make systems and processes function better
to achieve organizational objectives. A good
auditor will ask the question Why?
What has being a CMA offered him? Its
meant everything, Doug says. Its given
me that foundational base to look at things
from an organizational perspective. Ive really
drawn on it over my career.
BY JEN JANZEN
Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

35

OPPORTUNITY

TYLER BERTAMINIS PATH INTO


accounting was largely a result of strategic thinking. He saw first-hand how his fathers CMA
designation not only provided him with a good
career, but a stable one as well: The Internet
was just becoming a thing people have in their
homes, Tyler recalls. People were talking about
how the information age is on the horizon. I
wanted a line of work that would evolve handin-hand with technology instead of a job that
would become obsolete because of technology.
Tyler began his journey as an accounts
receivable clerk starting out as every accountant should, he says and, over seven years of
part-time instruction, he earned an accounting
degree from SAIT. He went on to finish his
CMA designation, which he earned in 2012.
One of his resum highlights comes from
his time with the Calgary Real Estate Board
(CREB). As part of a large team, he worked
on a manual for CREBs board of governors.
A lot of young accountants dont get that
exposure of working so closely with a board,
he says, adding that governance is an expected
competency for a CMA.
Now a controller with North Star Contracting in Calgary, Tyler enjoys giving back to
the profession that has served him so well; he
serves as an academic mentor at SAIT, advising and mentoring students enrolled in the applied accounting degree in addition to working
with CPAs Business Case Competition, where
he coaches SAITs team.
Tylers strong support for the new CPA
designation reminds him of his roots and the
importance of growth: Its important to me:
my dad was a CMA and I was mentored by
other CMAs. I do have that sentimental feeling but at the same time I believe what were
doing [with CPA] is important and Im 100
per cent in support.
BY JEN JANZEN
PHOTO BY BOOKSTRUCKER
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Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

TYLER BERTAMINI CMA

| NORTH STAR CONTRACTING

VERSATILITY
BRYN JONES CMA CA
EDMONTON, HARDISTY, SEDGEWICK,
Olds, Camrose: Bryn Joness work history
sounds more like Johnny Cashs Ive
Been Everywhere, Man than it does an
accountants resum. But its his accounting background that made his geographic
manoeuvres possible in the first place.
Its a career path with a lot of flexibility
and opportunity, he says, adding that his
own employment trajectory has been everything and more than Ive anticipated.
Currently the chief financial officer at
Command Fishing and Pipe Recovery
Ltd., Bryns prior work experience
has included the fields of agriculture,
municipal government, and public
practice. Its hard to describe what an

| COMMAND FISHING AND PIPE RECOVERY LTD.

accountant does, he says. It leads in so


many different directions. Every industry
has room for you.
Becoming an accountant was never
Bryns lifelong dream. He enrolled in
university intending to become a biologist
or a financial advisor, but he discovered
that not only did he enjoy accounting, but
he was good at it too.
Initially planning on earning his CA
designation, Bryn felt more at home
with the strategic side of business, so
he enrolled in the CMA program. He
was working with a cattle company in
Hardisty when an auditor offered Bryn
a job, along with the chance to gain a CA
title. In hindsight, [CA and CMA] is

an awesome combination, Bryn says.


Ive long been an advocate of seeing the
strengths of both designations. The CA
focus has made really great accountants
and CMAs have made some really great
managers. Combined, its a deadlier
skill set.
The flexibility hes enjoyed in his own
career is why Bryn is a big supporter of
the new CPA label: in fact, hes currently
mentoring a CPA student. I really think
it will create accountants who have a
broader base, which means they will be
more versatile, he says.
BY JEN JANZEN
PHOTO BY VINSON LIM

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

37

TRANSFORMATIONAL
DAVID CRAIN MBA FCMA
DAVID CRAIN IS PASSIONATE ABOUT
his work and designation of Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada
(FCMA), a title he describes as transformational. As the executive director, finance and
operations, at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School
in Calgary, his experience and education
allow him to confidently fill roles in a variety
of areas, including human resources, finance,
IT and more.
While some might assume that accountants deal strictly with finance, David says
that with his designation comes endless
flexibility, and no limitations on career

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Vision Alberta

| STRATHCONA-TWEEDSMUIR SCHOOL

options and potential. Your career is


what you make it, with an accounting
designation being the initial springboard,
he says. He notes that his CMA designation created a passion for lifelong
learning, an attribute that he insists is
vital to continued progress in the industry
and something he emphasizes to his
students. As an instructor of accounting
at the post-graduate level, David says he
enjoys the opportunity to give back to the
profession through mentoring of new candidates. His devotion to education netted
him the CMA Alberta Instructor of the

Special Commemorative Issue

Year award in 2010.


David is excited about the future and
the amalgamation of the designations
under one umbrella. As the merger
of the CMA, CGA and CA legacy
designations continues, there are many
opportunities that will emerge, David
says. With five children, and a partner
who also holds the FCMA designation,
the future of accounting looks bright,
especially in the Crain household.
BY KELLY S. THOMPSON
PHOTO BY DON MOLYNEAUX

OPPORTUNITY

SANDRA KING SAYS SHE FELL INTO


the accounting industry by accident. She was
working for a construction company that went
bankrupt and the bankruptcy trustee asked
for her help in wrapping matters up. After
that was completed, he hired her to work at his
chartered accounting firm.
Today, Sandra is the owner of King and
Company, a CGA firm in Calgary that shes
been operating for 25 years. Although she says
shes approaching an age where most people
think about winding down, she is enjoying
focusing on new areas that interest her. That
means she is continuing to run her business,
but has moved into more of a consulting and
advising role.
Sandra holds a Certified General Accountant designation and was awarded a fellowship
in 2004 based on her volunteer service,
contributions to the accounting profession as a
whole, and community service.
Sandra actively served the CGA Alberta
body. Volunteering with the association is not
required, but its important because its rewarding personally and you make a contribution,
Sandra says. Through my work with the
association such as committee work I can
count a lot of personal friends and professional
colleagues and contacts Ive met. Its a learning
experience and Ive had a lot of fun doing it.
Sandra says the designation has helped
move her forward in her career, opening doors
that would not have opened otherwise. The
designation also commands respect in the
business world because it shows a person has
achieved a certain level of knowledge and
experience.
Theres a stereotype about accountants
being dull and plodding creatures and were
way more than that, she adds. We have a lot
of talents and interests.

SANDRA KING FCGA

| KING AND COMPANY

BY HEIDI TURNER
PHOTO BY BOOKSTRUCKER
Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

39

AWESOME

JASONS SCHWABS AFFINITY FOR


accounting began early. A student with a talent for math and science, he took accounting
as an option in high school. It was easy and
it was fun, he says. That experience, coupled
with an older cousin who was an accountant,
helped steer Jason into the profession.
Now the chief operating officer with the
legal firm Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer
LLP, Jasons voice rises with pleasure when
he describes the CMA designation he earned
in 2000 as awesome. He chose the CMA
track because the forward-looking nature of
the work appealed to him. Jason is adamant
that the designation advanced his career. It
garners a lot of respect. The environment that
I work in prides itself on education, so my colleagues were very celebratory when I achieved
my designation, he says.
One thing that stuck with Jason while he
was working towards his designation was
the program moderators inspiring him to do
more. That motivation can be a much-needed
boost in a challenging program that is layered
on top of school or a full-time position. So
when he completed the journey, he was
inspired to fulfill that same function for the
next generation and teach CMA students. I
loved the program and I wanted to give back.
Its very rewarding to see the students convocate, says Jason.
In 2014, the profession honoured Jasons
commitment to both the membership and the
community by awarding him the Fellowship
designation. Having walked a mile in his
students shoes, Schwab knows the challenges and the rewards of designation. Its
something I wanted and Im very proud of my
achievement.
BY SUE LEBRETON
PHOTO BY COOPER + OHARA
40

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

JASON SCHWAB FCMA

| REYNOLDS MIRTH RICHARDS & FARMER LLP

COLOSSAL IMPACT
RAFIK KURJI FCMA
RAFIK KURJI BREAKS THE MOULD ON
the adage that those who cant do, teach.
As associate professor of accounting at the
Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal
University, Rafik is helping to shape the next
generation of accountants. Teaching is the
most rewarding and satisfying experience,
he says.
Rafiks own education and career
enjoyment is part of what spurred him
into a passion for educating. It is exciting,
thunderous and sexy! Rafik says of the
accounting profession, a sentiment he
hopes to inspire in his students. He holds a
bachelor of commerce and was awarded his

CMA designation in 1987 and the FCMA


designation in 2014. The designation
colossally impacted his career by offering
employment opportunities outside of a
traditional accountant framework, thanks
to the designations emphasis on leadership,
management and communication. My
accounting designation has provided me
with a clear understanding that accounting
is the language of business, Rafik reflects.
He consistently develops methods to help
his students grasp this language, by using
real-world examples to highlight accounting
as a part of everyday life.
Moving forward with a new, unified

| BISSETT SCHOOL OF BUSINESS


designation, Rafik is excited about the
continued opportunities it offers not
only his own career, but also his students
careers. The future of accounting is
very promising I have no doubt in my
mind that the CPA designation will be
the premier business designation one
would aspire for, he predicts. With the
proper education and designation, Rafik
has proven that there is no limit to what
accountants can achieve.
BY KELLY S. THOMPSON
PHOTO BY CHRISTINA RYAN

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

41

CREDIBILITY
ADAM BATTISTESSA CGA
CREDIBILITY IS THE WORD THAT
Adam Battistessa, Canadian property tax
manager with Shell, uses to encapsulate
the power of his CGA designation. The
significance of this term is apparent as he
describes the benefits of the designation
that has helped propel his career at Shell.
It didnt happen right away, but over time
I was taken more at face value by colleagues. I was definitely more marketable
within the company, he says.
For Adam, the designation has enhanced his perspective. Starting as an
economist, he accumulated a wealth of

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Vision Alberta

principle-based knowledge, but the CGA


designation enabled him to use this knowledge in a structured way. His main interest
is accounting theory: I am interested in
the why, what drives people to do things
based on a financial statement.
Despite having an economics degree
and an MBA, the path to the designation
was six years long. Adam drew motivation
from the knowledge that it would lead to
more opportunities and that Shell placed
a high value on credentials. It gave me
more choices as well as a fulfilling career,
admits Adam, who has worked in many

Special Commemorative Issue

| SHELL

areas in addition to finance at Shell


throughout his 23-year career.
Adam mentors Shell students
working towards their CGA to broaden
their perspective beyond accounting by
really understanding the business and
becoming a trusted advisor. In addition
to coaching students, Adam enjoys
judging MBA case competitions as both
a pastime as well as a means of keeping
his own skill set razor sharp.
BY SUE LEBRETON
PHOTO BY DON MOLYNEAUX

NO FEAR

ITS A FACT OF LIFE: YOUNG PEOPLE


can make bad decisions. Sonya von Heyking,
director of the CPA Bridging Program
at the University of Lethbridge, is no
exception: she dropped out of high school,
moved from Ottawa to Alberta on a whim
and spent six years as a bartender before,
at 24, starting on the path to become a
Chartered Accountant.
Encouraged by an instructor in a college
business administration diploma program
who recognized her aptitude, she earned
her CA designation at age 32. It was a big
change to go from not really having any
marketable skills or education to having
one of the preeminent designations in the
country, Sonya says.
That change was multifaceted. For me,
its meant a lot more freedom, a lot less fear,
a lot more choice and capacity, Sonya explains. Because you have a designation that
gives you the nice things like job security,
you also have the mental space to figure out
what you enjoy doing. You have a skill set
that you really can translate into almost
anything. Youre among the worlds greatest
problem-solvers, so you can find out what
you want to do and make that change.
Today, Sonya splits her time between
directing a bridging program helping people
enter the CPA profession and teaching
accounting at the University of Lethbridge.
She also operates her own company, Civantage, on the side and maintains a rigorous
training schedule to keep her in shape for
half-marathons, duathlons and obstacle races.
It feels like its come full circle, she explains.
Im the one now in the classroom driving
people and identifying people and supporting
them in their path. Its truly amazing.

SONYA VON HEYKING CA

| UNIVERSIT Y OF LETHBRIDGE

BY ROBIN SCHROFFEL
PHOTO BY ROB OLSON
Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

43

FULFILLING

CAREER FULFILLMENT IS IMPORTANT


for Lara Gaede and shes found it as the
chief accountant and newly appointed chief
financial officer of the Alberta Securities
Commission, the regulatory agency for
securities legislation in the province. The dual
role enables her to continue to do the work
she loves shes been chief accountant for five
years while adding a new opportunity for
learning and growth.
As a CA, Lara is proud of her designation
and the skill set, stability and choice it has
provided her. It wasnt easy to achieve and
because it wasnt easy, I put a lot of value
on it. Ive always been very proud of it, she
says. It gives you a lot of different roads you
can travel. I like that Im not on one set path
for the rest of my life. Laura was recently
awarded the FCA designation.
One of the things Lara most enjoys about
her designation is the opportunity to mentor
those considering the profession; she often
participated in recruiting events put on by
the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Alberta, and hopes to continue to do so for
the unified profession. She is also active in
the profession in other ways, including as a
member of the Accounting Standards Board
and the board of governors of the Chartered
Accountants Education Foundation. Beyond
these professional volunteer roles, she has
worked with other non-profits throughout her
career. Its given me the chance to give back,
Lara says. Its great to be able to volunteer in
different areas and feel that you have something to contribute.
BY ROBIN SCHROFFEL
PHOTO BY DON MOLYNEAUX
44

Vision Alberta

Special Commemorative Issue

LARA GAEDE FCA

| ALBERTA SECURITIES COMMISSION

OPENS DOORS
MARK WOLTERSDORF FCA CMA CGA
AS A PARTNER WITH DENTONS
Canada LLP and one of Canadas leading
tax lawyers, Edmonton-based Mark Woltersdorf plays a key role in the negotiation
and counsel of multimillion-dollar business
transactions. Behind that success in law
is a strong background in accounting:
Mark started his career as an accountant
and holds the CA (he is a Fellow of the
Chartered Accountants), CMA, and CGA
designations.
The designations are well-respected;
they open doors. Once those doors are open,
its up to you to make the best of it, he says.
It gets you the skills you need to succeed
and helps you think critically about every-

thing in life. It has a very positive influence.


Aside from giving Mark an in-depth understanding of transactions, his accounting
background has proven invaluable in his tax
law practice in other ways. The communication is vastly improved by being able to
speak with accountants in accounting terms,
as opposed to having to speak to them as
a layperson, he says. Theres a language
thats understood and the transaction can be
completed far more efficiently.
While working full time in law, Marks
role in the accounting profession is an
active one. Hes taught for a laundry list
of institutions and associations, including
the University of Alberta, the University of

| DENTONS CANADA LLP

British Columbia and currently the


CPA Alberta Joint Venture. He has also
developed preparatory lesson notes for
the Uniform Evaluation, supplemental
study guides for the pre-designation
process, and continuing professional
development course materials.
With the designation unification,
Mark intends to contribute to the profession as much as he can. My goal is to
take this new, improved version of the
accounting profession and do what I can
to make it even better yet.
BY ROBIN SCHROFFEL
PHOTO BY BUFFY GOODMAN

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

45

POSSIBILITIES
RYAN KRUTZFELDT CGA
RYAN KRUTZFELDT IS VICE-PRESIDENT
of operations for Collicutt Energy Services
Corp. Although he has moved from the
accounting side into operations, he says
his accounting experience is invaluable,
providing him with a base of knowledge to
make important decisions.
Accounting absolutely helps, Ryan
says. Accounting helps you put the pieces
together. I can look at a financial statement and understand what it says. I can
tell where we excel and where we need to
improve. Its an important aspect of being
in operations.

46

Vision Alberta

| COLLICUTT ENERGY SERVICES CORP.

Ryan says his CGA designation has


opened doors for career advancement and
given him the real-life experience and
skills to apply his education and training
to everyday situations.
Ryan first got into accounting because
he enjoyed working with numbers and
was interested in how businesses
operate. After starting off as a senior
accountant for Collicutt, Ryan became
controller and then vice-president of
finance before becoming the vice-president
of operations, where he uses his financial
experience to support the accounting

Special Commemorative Issue

department. My day is always full


and constantly changing, Ryan says.
Every day is different.
In addition to his work as an operations manager for Collicutt, he chaired
the CGA Central Alberta chapter for
four years and now sits on the executive
board for the Central Alberta CPA
chapter. He is also teaching Introduction to Financial Accounting at Red
Deer College.
BY HEIDI TURNER
PHOTO BY DON MOLYNEAUX

SERVING OTHERS

DANIEL CHOW HAS ALWAYS HAD AN


interest in two things: exploring the world and
helping others. So, after he earned his CA
designation, he sought global opportunities
that would satisfy those interests. I went to
Malaysia and China to teach at various special
needs schools, opening my eyes to the way of
life there. I returned to Canada feeling a little
removed from the Western way of life and
decided to look for jobs internationally. During
this search, I stumbled on the Accounting for
International Development, or AfID, website
(www.afid.org.uk), Daniel explains.
AfID is a social enterprise that offers experienced accounting professionals a chance to use
their skills to make a difference in volunteer
international development roles. Through the
organization, Daniel was connected to Prisoner
Fellowship Cambodia (PFC), which helps educate prisoners and reintegrate them into society.
Daniel used his expertise to enhance the financial systems and processes of PFC and then to
train the staff to ensure those tools continue to
be used and built upon.
Now back in Canada, Daniel is still helping
others as the CFO for Entrust Corp., an organization that provides services to people with
developmental difficulties. This work fits with
his core values. Since I have been given so much
compared to the vast majority of people in the
world, its rewarding to be part of anything that
can make a difference in someone elses life.
Daniel feels the move to the CPA designation
will only help other designated accountants
who share his interests. Unification will better
position the profession to compete globally and
make it easier for young accountants by providing support and branding under one umbrella,
while retaining the flexibility they have in the
direction of their accounting careers,
Daniel says.
BY CHRIS PILGER
PHOTO BY BOWN STUDIO

DANIEL CHOW CA

| ENTRUST CORP.

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

47

5 Lessons Learned
BUSINESS LEADERS SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FROM THEIR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
BY David DiCenzo
JOHN FERGUSON 73, Edmonton
Current Role: Founder and chairman of the
board for Princeton Developments Ltd. and
Princeton Ventures Ltd. in Edmonton.
Education: Bachelor of Commerce from the
University of Alberta (1964) and CA designation from Institute of Chartered Accountants
(1967)
The Path: John began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he received his CA
designation. He then joined Oxford Development Group as comptroller. At 28, he jumped
ship to become the CFO of Numac Oil and
Gas Ltd. In 1975, Ferguson founded Princeton
Developments Ltd., a real estate development
business. His resum includes being on
the board of directors of Alberta Investment
Management Company (AIMCO), chairman of
Suncor Energy and chancellor emeritus and
chairman emeritus at the U of A.

KARA CLAYPOOL 42, Calgary


Current Role: Chief operating officer and
chief financial officer of Vintage Group
Education: Bachelor of Commerce,
Accounting and Business/Management
from the University of Calgary Haskayne
School of Business (1996) and CMA
designation from Certified Management
Accountants of Alberta (2002)
The Path: While employed at Big Rock
Brewery, Kara received her CMA designation
and moved up the company ladder. She
rose to senior manager, finance and
strategic planning, before moving to Jugo
Juice International in 2006 as executive
vice-president. In 2012, she was appointed
COO and CFO of Vintage Group.

LOUISE NESTERENKO 65, Calgary


Current Role: Owner of Alberta Computer
Cable Inc., Owner of NLN Investments,
Owner of Books Between Friends
Education: Certified General Accountant
designation from Ryerson University (1981),
CGA/Executive Development Program from
University of Alberta (1994), Bachelor of
Applied Business Administration from SAIT
(2005)
The Path: Louise began as a receptionist
at Goodhost Foods in the 1970s and was
encouraged by her boss Dave Cavell to
obtain a CGA designation. She moved
to Alberta and became vice-president of
finance at Data Terminal Marts. Louise saw
a void in the marketplace and eventually
co-founded Alberta Computer Cable Inc.,
among other ventures.

JOHN FERGUSON, KARA CLAYPOOL AND


LOUISE NESTERENKO have earned their

into what got them to where they are today.


We were curious: what lessons have they
learned and what advice would they pass to
todays new generation of accountants?

everything to being a CGA. I have travelled


the world and become an entrepreneur. It has
allowed me to start up companies and run
them successfully. I could not have done that
without the CGA designation.
She estimates that a majority of what she
does in the workplace still relates to accounting and that those skills in areas like costing
and purchasing are always in use. A lot

reputations as business leaders in Albertas


complex and ever-changing economy. While
their career paths have varied, they have a
common bond: they each attribute their individual and organizational success to a strong
background in accounting. We asked them to
reflect on their careers and share key insights

48

Vision Alberta

LESSON #1: Build a foundation


of knowledge
Louise Nesterenko is clear that her educational path made her who she is today. I owe

Special Commemorative Issue

of people tell me that they dont always get


to use their schooling, Louise says. That
certainly isnt the case with me.
And she shares that knowledge with others.
Her commanding voice has been heard by
thousands of students throughout her adopted province. She has taught at both SAIT and
the University of Calgary, where the goal is
to not only develop numerical skills but also
teach [students] about real life.
John Ferguson calls accounting the backbone of his success. I have always thought
that accounting was the best background that
a person could have in the business world. I
learned incredible discipline through articling
and the ability to understand financial statements. The quality of work you do, everything
has to be correct the is dotted and the ts
crossed.
For Kara Claypool, an appetite for knowledge separated her from the pack and
enabled her to succeed at a young age. That
knowledge gathering extended to learning on
the job. Kara realized the more she knew, the
better equipped she would be and implemented that lesson in her first job at Big Rock
Brewery. She stuck her nose in all aspects
of the business, she says, and as a junior
accountant, would gather information from all
departments to understand what the numbers
meant and where they came from.
I infiltrated myself into different areas
of the brewery, Kara says. I would meet
with the marketing people. I would also take
the opportunity to meet the brewhouse guys
for coffee.

LESSON #2: Follow your passion


Young people should get into a field that
they are passionate about, says John. I
am a big believer in following your dreams.
Youll never be successful unless you enjoy
what youre doing. Thats something that still
holds true for him today. Even at this point in
my career, I get up early, I work out and I get
to the office early. I still love to play the game.
Im not satisfied unless I play to win but
within the rules, he emphasizes. You have
to do it with the highest integrity and the best
work ethic.
Karas passion for numbers was evident
early on. From the very first day that her
father helped her open a bank account
at age 12, she had one focus grow her

money. Her early affinity for numbers went a


long way toward achieving that goal, as did
a relentless approach to work. While her
high school friends were reading Seventeen
magazine, she was ingesting material like
The Wealthy Barber.
Before I ever decided to make accounting, finance and leadership a career, I
always gravitated towards business, she
says. The mother of two still loves math
and is still very much an accountant at
heart, always eager to empower her employees to learn how the companys figures
apply to their own roles.
I can look at numbers in black and white
and pull back layers others cant see, she
says. The lines on a balance sheet, a lot
of leaders dont know what they mean.
Part of my role as CFO is to have that
hat on.

LESSON #3: Be confident in yourself


Of all the lessons Louise learned over the
course of a distinguished business career,
breaking the mould is one that resonates
most with her. The outspoken Toronto
native does not fit the stereotypical image
of a quiet accountant. She is upfront,
aggressive and tough as nails, possessing
an incomparable will to succeed in the
workplace or outside of it.
She once broke her femur and kneecap
after a horrible fall in a half-marathon and
despite four months in a wheelchair, Louise
rehabilitated her body and now represents
Canada by competing annually in multiple
track and field events at the World Masters
Games. Its who I am, she says of her
desire to always plough forward.
A supportive family helped Kara gain a
strong sense of self early, a necessity in
the business world. Its inevitable that you
will fall and fail. You have to have the belief
to pick yourself up and dust off. Exude confidence, even if you have to fake it. Fake it
until you make it. I showed that I was able
to make decisions. You earn respect. Its
tough sometimes but you have to be able
to stand tall and say, Thats how its going
to be. The decisions might be wrong but
you have to be strong in your conviction.
I was this mid-20s woman in a
male-dominated organization but I was
always able to hold my own.

LESSON #4: Take calculated risks


One of the lessons that served John well
was a willingness to take risks, which he did
when he left Numac to start up Princeton
Developments Ltd. It helped that he was
confident in his abilities and knew it was
a smart decision. I gave up a very secure
position within an oil company to take a
chance, says John, noting his CA designation provided him a stable base for such a
move. There was a high degree of risk but I
had a lot of confidence in what I was doing.
Louise says her accounting background
gave her the confidence to take a risk and
start Alberta Computer Cable Inc. with her
boss at DTM. Decades later, ACC is a multimillion-dollar corporation.

LESSON #5: Focus on people


Kara says being a CMA requires strategic
thinking and a holistic view. Her schooling
emphasized group work, which taught her to
adapt to different personalities.
Projects were done in groups that you
dont get to select, she recalls. There
could be three or four alphas, certainly a
variety of personalities. You learned what everyone could bring to the table. It was okay
not to agree with a point of view. You listen
and try to understand. Everyone had a voice.
That has proven to be quite valuable. Its
a soft skill I wouldnt have otherwise been
exposed to.
While its important to be able to work
with different types of people and benefit
from different views, its also important to
any organization to be on the lookout for
new people who can move your organization
forward.
John says he is always on the hunt
for talent not just capable but elite talent.
He references two recent hires at Princeton,
both of whom earned gold medals for their
performance on the CA exam.
The first thing you do is hire people
smarter than yourself, which is easy in my
case, he says modestly.
Some company owners might be reluctant to hire a new employee whose abilities
outshine their own, but as John learned over
the years, those are exactly the kind of people you want to confidently delegate tasks to
over time and ensure the companys future
success.

Special Commemorative Issue

Vision Alberta

49

HELPING YOU SUCCEED!

O MATTER WHERE

your career has taken you,


your professional body has a variety of programs,
services and resources that can benefit you.
Like the profession itself, the CA, CGA and CMA
bodies have proud histories of both protecting the public and
providing valuable services to their members. By combining
resources and expertise, the future CPA Alberta body will be
able to even more effectively serve its members. Even before
unification is finalized, the benefits of working together are
starting to be realized, and these benefits will only increase
after unification.
The following are only some of the ways in which unification is
helping the future CPA Alberta serve its members.
Strengthened Professional Development Opportunities: Many designated accountants look towards their professional association to fulfill at least some of
their continuing professional development requirements. This year, the CPA
Alberta Joint Venture offered over 500 courses in the fall/winter session,
and the scope and quality of offerings will continue to grow in the future. All
Albertas designated accountants now also have the opportunity to purchase
Passports, which can reduce the cost of offerings by up to 45 per cent!

CPA Assist Program: Healthy professionals make a healthy profession. The CPA Assist program is available to all CMAs, CGAs, CAs, CPA candidates, and their families to enhance their wellness. The program is completely confidential, and offers
professional counselling, peer support and health and wellness services to deal
with a variety of issues, including stress management, burnout and addiction.
Career Services: An accounting designation brings career opportunities.
Whether its a first job as a candidate or a move into the C-Suite, there are
many programs and workshops that can help, including resum reviews and
mock interviews. Importantly, the profession now has an expanded job board,
so organizations can find the best candidates to fill roles and professional
accountants can find the right fit for their skills.
Networking Opportunities: Connecting with colleagues to build a strong professional network is important. As the CPA profession continues to be built, there
will be more opportunities for members to interact with each other and the
professional body, both through expanded conferences and events and more
robust local chapters.
These are just a small sample of the resources and services available to
Albertas designated accountants. As the unification journey nears its completion, there are sure to be even more ways the future CPA Alberta body will
have a positive impact on Albertas designated accountants.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING AFTER 5?


You have a life to live after 5 and it shouldnt include evaluating resumes.
Trust us to nd the right accounting professional for you.

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