Features | From Pivot Magazine

Lawrence Qianyu Zhang

Last year, Zhang won the Governor General’s Gold Medal and $5,000 for getting the highest CFE score in Canada

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Lawrence Qianyu Zhang: “AI can be a good thing. Automation will let accountants focus on value-added work.” (Photograph by Troy Moth)

Age 23 / Toronto
Public accountant at MNP 

WHY ACCOUNTING

Zhang grew up in Guangdong, China, and moved to Canada when he was eight. He excelled at science and computers but became interested in accounting in part because he earned silver in a high school accounting competition. He valued the soft skills that came with pursuing the CPA designation, like strategy, teamwork, communication and problem solving.

WHAT HE’S DOING NOW

After graduating with a master’s degree in accounting, Zhang joined MNP, where he conducts audits for public companies in industries like technology and mining. Last year, he won the Governor General’s Gold Medal and $5,000 for getting the highest CFE score in Canada. “I was surprised I managed to get the top prize,” he says. “I was just happy that I passed.”

WHERE HE SEES HIMSELF IN 10 YEARS

Zhang eventually wants to be a manager, so he can mentor aspiring and new CPAs. “MNP’s mentorship program helped me get the gold medal,” he says. “I appreciate those who helped me, and I want to support a future CFE writer in the same way.”

ON THE FUTURE OF ACCOUNTING

Zhang believes AI will dramatically change accounting, so he’s being proactive, adding skills beyond his technical accounting knowledge. “AI can be a good thing,” he says. “With manual work being automated, accountants can focus on creative value-added work that will be more useful for clients.”

HOBBY

In university, Zhang picked up cooking as a way to unwind after long study sessions. He recently made steamed pork buns from scratch.