CPA The ONE: Inspiration and a million-dollar view

Held in Vancouver’s stunning convention centre, this year’s national conference launched on a theme of love, relationships and how to be a better leader. Find out what the keynote speakers had to say. View our photo gallery.

For the first time, CPA The ONE was held in Vancouver.  The annual two-day professional development conference was presented jointly by CPA Canada and CPABC. Close to 1,000 CPAs from Canada and abroad gathered from Sept. 19 to 20 for CPD opportunities. (Optional post-conference workshops were held on Sept. 21.)

“We’re all here because we want to learn, grow and connect with others in our field,” said Joy Thomas, president and CEO of CPA Canada, in her welcoming remarks. “I assure you, you’re in the right place.”


The ONE was discussed on social media; people used the hashtag #CPATheOne. Twitter screens were set up throughout the convention centre, engaging members with an ever-evolving visual of the online conversation. The social media notes and commentary can still be viewed here.

Building on a successful approach that was developed over the past two years, the agenda was again split into four streams: leadership, financial reporting and accounting, management accounting and finance, and taxation. There were 35 sessions. Here’s a recap of what happened.

Day One: “Don’t tell me you love me. Show me”


A group of people networking at the 2016 The One Conference. It was a dark and rainy morning as Canadian CPAs from across Canada and as far away as Dubai, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nunavut streamed into the Vancouver Convention Centre. “The rainy weather is our daily greeting,” Elder Margaret George of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation told the crowd. A few hours later, in true BC-fashion, the sun came out.

New York Times best-selling author Tommy Spaulding delivered the opening keynote and invited the audience to believe in colleagues and employees. “Being a heart-led leader is not just about business results. It’s about growing other people.” What’s your leadership philosophy? he asked. Love and results are two sides of the same coin. “Don’t tell me you love me. Show me.” (This last quote became the conference mantra.)

During the day, attendees got to choose between five different sessions in three time blocks. These included:
  • An update from the chair of the Accounting Standards Board, Linda Mezon
  • Jocelyn Bérard’s The Evolving Role of a CPA: How to Execute Strategy by Using Influential Leadership Skills
  • Dialoguing Diversity: What Millennials Have to Say About Their Careers and Professional Development — a panel moderated by Rob Prowse of UBC’s Sauder School of Business
Gord Nelson, CFO of Cineplex Inc. and CFO of the Year, rounded out the CPD part of the day. Nelson outlined the various stages of Cineplex Canada’s development before and during his stewardship. “Relationships. I just can’t stress how important those are,” he said. Cineplex Canada is now looking at market mass today and where it might exist 5-10 years from now. “Think of disruption as opportunity,” Nelson said. “Be proactive.”

Day One topped off with a reception — The Best of BC — in the panoramic exhibition hall. Here CPAs got to mix, mingle and savour BC fare.

Day Two: “We live in an omni-channel world”  


Following two early morning sessions, Duncan Stewart, director of media & telecommunications research at Deloitte Canada, took to the stage for a keynote address on technology trends. “We live in an omni-channel world,” Stewart told the audience, interspersing his talk with humorous personal anecdotes.
The grand foyer of the Vancouver Convention Centre for the 2016 One Conference.
PwC Canada’s Geoff Leverton and Michael J. Pacholek spoke about the best practices and common pitfalls of IPOs and Reverse Takeovers. Other sessions focused on building an ethical culture, IFRS 9, identity theft and big data.

For the conference’s grand finale, Sue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, took on the future of the Internet. Gardner reviewed the history of the Internet and explored today’s big issues. What’s the responsibility of large Internet companies? What happens when groups are crowded out of public places? “The future of the Internet is to determine if it will have a positive or negative impact,” she concluded.

As the conference wrapped up, CPAs took to social media to express their enthusiasm. “Thank you @CPAcanada @cpa_bc for an amazing conference!” wrote one. “A terrific conference #CPAtheONE 2016 in beautiful Vancouver!” wrote another.

In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, next year’s #CPATheOne National Conference will be held in the nation’s capital. We hope to see you from Sept. 18 to 19 in Ottawa.


Editor’s note

The next issue of Member News will land in your inbox on Nov. 14, 2016.

About the Author

Mara Gulens

Editor, Member News
Mara is the editor of CPA Canada’s Member News enewsletter and the Professional Matters section of CPA Magazine.

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