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Portrait of Joy Thomas, CPA Canada's president and CEO
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Joy Thomas, CPA Canada’s president and CEO, sees bright future for the profession as she steps down

Successor Charles-Antoine St-Jean will take over as leader in July

Portrait of Joy Thomas, CPA Canada's president and CEOOver her 25-year career, Joy Thomas has shaped and influenced the accounting profession, both in Canada and internationally (Photograph by Matt Barnes)

CPA Canada’s Joy Thomas is stepping down from her position as president and CEO in July.

In this role, Thomas worked in partnership with the provincial CPA bodies and other stakeholders to keep the profession in front of emerging trends and have it play a leadership role in shaping the future. She also played a crucial role in unifying Canada’s three long-standing legacy accounting designations under the CPA banner.

It was under her leadership that CPA Canada’s voice gained influence with the Canadian government and key global players. 

“It’s impossible to describe one particular moment,” she says when asked to highlight her proudest moment as president and CEO. “There are many accomplishments that meant a lot to me and the team. For example, delivering an award-winning national magazine, being a global leader in thought leadership, particularly our work on climate change adaptation and our work on Foresight, tapping into the volunteer spirit of CPAs to deliver unbiased objective financial literacy education to upwards of 70,000 Canadians annually.”

Thomas’ influence extends beyond the organizations she’s led: she has also served on boards with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) as chair of the Global Accounting Alliance and as a member of Canada’s National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy. 

“I’d like to be remembered, first and foremost, as a CPA myself who cares deeply about our profession, its relevance and its future,” says Thomas, who was at the helm when CPA Canada launched the Foresight initiative —an ambitious consultation effort with leading stakeholders to help shape the future of the accounting profession. “I encourage CPAs to get involved with our work on Foresight and contribute to the conversation that will shape our future.”

Her achievements over the past 25 years have not gone unrecognized. In 2005, Thomas was named a fellow of CMA Canada, an award given to CMAs who bring distinction to the profession and serve as role models. In 2018, the Women’s Executive Network named Thomas one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award winners, which celebrates outstanding women for their professional achievements and inspiring the next generation of leaders. In 2019 she was among 25 leaders in the accounting profession to receive the 2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting Award by AICPA and CPA Practice Advisor in the USA

“Every day has been different, interesting, challenging, rewarding,” Thomas says, reflecting on her time at CPA Canada. “And, it was all possible because of the incredible expertise and dedication of the entire team.” 

Her successor, Charles-Antoine St-Jean, FCPA, FCA, a veteran in the accounting industry with extensive leadership and professional experience, will take the reins effective July 20, 2020. 

Charles-Antoine St-JeanCharles-Antoine St-Jean

Stepping into his new role, St-Jean—whose appointment was approved by the CPA Canada’s board of directors after an extensive executive search—says he is “honoured and humbled to take the baton” and is ready to build on the success and reputation of a trusted, respected and influential organization. 

“I can draw upon my past experience as it closely aligns with CPA Canada’s mission and mandate and it provides an excellent platform from which to move forward,” he says.

Over his extensive career, St-Jean has worked with multiple government, corporate and not-for-profit stakeholders, nationally and abroad, including serving as national managing partner for Government and Public Sector at EY Canada, with a focus on strategy and public finance management. He has also served as Comptroller General of Canada and chair of the Public Sector Accounting Board. 

“After more than 20 years of working within this incredible profession, I cannot think of a better way to exit than with the knowledge that Charles-Antoine is taking over the helm as CEO,” says Thomas. “We are faced with exponential shifts in technology, globalization, business models, geopolitics, and societal expectations. Grounded in trust and integrity, we are poised to position CPAs as strategic leaders and trusted advisers within all sectors of the economy, adding value and driving performance today, and in the future.” 

St-Jean says he too is hopeful for the future and is confident CPA Canada will come out stronger on the other side of COVID-19 and the challenges it presents for the global business community.

“Together…we will take all that was good about the old normal, all that is good about the new normal that we are living right now, and we will shape together what is the new better for CPA Canada,” he says.

Thomas will work closely with St-Jean to ensure a seamless transition as he assumes the position as leader of CPA Canada.