Top row (From left to right): Murjanat Dambatta, Carter Wilson; Bottom row (From left to right): Joshua Faier, Nicole Hosler and Philippe Sénécal
For decades, many new accountants were determined to land a job at a big firm, work hard and inch their way up the ladder to success. But the next generation has different dreams in mind. Maybe it’s the freedom afforded by new technology, or the crop of new industries shaking up the business world, or even the global pandemic that’s transformed the way we work. Whatever it is, a well-paying, steady job isn’t enough anymore. This new cohort wants flexibility. They want meaning. They want to change the world.
Rosemary Venne, a retired professor at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan, researches demographic patterns and how they affect the labour market. Even before the pandemic, Venne says, there was a rise in individualism among Gen Z and millennial workers. “People value personal autonomy and agency,” Venne explains. “They expect to have greater input and influence over their work.” They’re also more vocal than previous generations—and by speaking up, young CPAs are able to help modernize their organizations, pushing their firms to invest in new systems and technology, like automation and cloud-based software.
And then there are the CPAs who are leaving traditional employers altogether, choosing to work in new fields like AI, cryptocurrency and virtual reality—spheres where they can help build an industry from the ground up. These might be high-risk moves, but they offer big rewards. Many of these jobs come with increased flexibility: the opportunity to work when and where you want. And post-COVID, many CPAs will choose to keep working from home, at least sometimes. According to a PWC survey, only one in five employees want to go back to their workplace full time. The pandemic is making all of us take stock of our desires and make big decisions. Many young accountants will come out of the pandemic realizing that satisfaction outweighs stability.
We spoke to five newly minted CPAs, working in big firms and industry, about their professional goals, new specialties and the post-pandemic future of accounting.
1) MURJANAT DAMBATTA
Senior financial analyst, Fire & Flower
CPA designation: February 2020
Specialization: cannabis and retail
“A lot of people think accounting is a boring job. But I’m definitely not bored at work.”
2) CARTER WILSON
Age 25/ Winnipeg
Senior associate, MNP
CPA designation: March 2021
Specialization: Indigenous accounting
“If I had my way, there would be hundreds of First Nations CPAs. That’s what we need.”
3) NICOLE HOSLER
Senior accountant, KPMG
CPA designation: 2019
Specialization: audit data analytics
“Automation will eliminate mundane tasks and give CPAs time in their day for more exciting work”
4) PHILIPPE SÉNÉCAL
Age 26/Longueuil, Que.
Manager of transformation, finance and operations at Intact
CPA designation: November 2018
Specialization: IT and accounting
“I think we’ll see more jobs like mine, because more businesses are adopting new technologies.”
5) JOSHUA FAIER
Director of finance, Sprout Therapy
CPA designation: September 2017
“In the startup space, you get thrown into things. Every day is different.”
CPAs IN DEMAND
Even though the pandemic continues, 2021 will be the year for accountants to demonstrate their exceptional versatility.
Also, delve into insights emerging from CPA Canada’s strategic initiative, Foresight: Reimagining the Profession, and learn what the future holds for accounting.