Accounting | The Profession

‘We’re out there getting stuff done’

A CPA designation can help young professionals get ahead and do new and interesting things in their careers. These experts explain how.

A Facebook IconFacebook A Twitter IconTwitter A Linkedin IconLinkedin An Email IconEmail

young business lady shaking hands with another business person outside a city building“This generation of CPAs is super versatile—they don’t all want to be partners at firms,” says CPA Samantha Taylor, an instructor of accounting, Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University (Getty Images/ AleksandarGeorgiev)

There are only good reasons to become a CPA. And, more than ever before, the designation is helping finance and business professionals achieve a wide range of career goals. 

“This generation of CPAs is super versatile—they don’t all want to be partners at firms,” says CPA Samantha Taylor, an instructor of accounting, Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Taylor, who is also a manager of education services at CPA Canada, is just beginning to see her students graduate and start their careers. 

“People want differing things,” she adds. “The great thing about the CPA designation is that it is a tool to help someone achieve their goals—whatever that may look like.

“We’re not that dork in a cubicle crunching numbers; we’re out there getting stuff done.”

WHAT’S YOUR PATH?

“There’s kind of the traditional path, which is a good path, but it’s not for everyone,” says Michael Kravshik, CPA.

Kravshik is the founder of Luminari, on online community that helps connect CPAs with jobs and volunteer opportunities, education, mentorship and more. [See Michael Kravshik: Younger CPAs can shape accounting’s future]

“A lot of people, when they get their CPA, they feel in some ways pigeonholed,” he explains. “You might see examples around you of people taking that traditional path, like moving up the public accountant ladder or moving into industry and financial reporting. But that’s certainly not all that’s out there.”

DIVERSE CAREERS

Taylor has no trouble coming up with varied examples of interesting jobs she’s seen recently, including positions at cannabis, beer and tech companies, and even at a zoo.

Linda Raynier, CPA, a career strategist with a popular YouTube channel, never imagined this would be her career after obtaining her designation.

“I knew the CPA was a great designation to obtain because it would open doors for me, but I had never imagined that I could leverage it in a way where I would start my own business,” she says.

“I worked for a Big Four accounting firm and that experience grew my perspective and maturity level in a positive way,” she says. “That exposure to different situations and environments was extremely valuable and has given me knowledge to share with my one-on-one clients to help them navigate their careers successfully.”

LOOK AT SKILLS, NOT JOBS

Instead of focusing on job titles, Kravshik suggests examining the skills CPAs have and how they can be utilized.

“One thing that CPAs are really, really good at, but that we tend to devalue, is our process,” he says. “We’re really good at developing and improving processes. We’re good at conceptualizing data in a real way.”

These are things that every company needs across a lot of different fields, he adds, especially in start-ups.

Technology is also changing the ways CPAs develop skills; Taylor points out that audit firms are using data to address risks, while the Canada Revenue Agency is using AI for assessments. This provides even more opportunity for CPAs to play a large role in an organization. [See 3 ways accountants can help with AI and technology]

KICKSTART YOUR CAREER

Learn more about the key roles that CPAs play in industry, public practice, government, education and not for profit. Read more about ways to develop your soft skills, and how it will help you get ahead in your career.