This profile was originally published in the May/June 2016 issue of CPABC in Focus magazine.
Although Sherry Tryssenaar admits to being a “serious” coffee addict, she says her decision to join Ten Peaks Coffee Company as CFO had more to do with a passion for new experiences than a passion for java.
“I love a challenge,” she says. “It’s fair to say I seek out positions and opportunities that will allow me to continue to grow and develop as a leader, and opportunities to apply what I’ve learned to new situations.”
By the time Sherry joined Ten Peaks in 2009, she’d worked extensively in the investment industry, holding leadership roles with Quorum Funding, HSBC Securities, Research Capital Corporation, and RBC Technology Ventures. In 2003, she switched to the other side of the industry to serve as CFO and VP of operations and finance for OncoGenex, a start-up biotech company for which she’d been providing consulting services.
It was after taking on the role of CFO that Sherry decided to pursue an accounting designation.
“Although I’d studied business during my undergrad, I didn’t aspire to be an accountant,” says Sherry. The Simon Fraser University grad (BBA with honours) also has an MSc from the London School of Economics. “I had a strong interest in business strategy and wanted to work with businesses to help them grow. And after I became a CFO, I saw that an accounting designation would support me in my career.”
Between her consulting and CFO work, Sherry helped OncoGenex progress from initial product acquisition to clinical development within four years. She then made the move from biotech to clean tech, joining QuestAir Technologies as CFO in 2005. Over the next four years, she again helped raise considerable capital to fund research and growth. By 2009, she was ready for something new.
“I wanted to work for a more traditional business—one that could fund its own growth from operations,” she explains. “Ten Peaks’ predecessor entity, the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Income Fund, was looking for a CFO at the time. I love coffee, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the business, so I joined.”
Ten Peaks owns all the interests of the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company Inc. and owns and operates Seaforth Supply Chain Solutions Inc.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to work with a fabulous team of people who are committed to delivering an exceptional product,” says Sherry. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on numerous projects over the past seven years, and there’s always something new to apply my skills to.”
Those skills haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2011, Sherry received Business in Vancouver’s BC CFO of the Year Award in the Small Public Company Category.
“I was honoured to receive the award,” she says. “It was a great opportunity to reflect on what I’d achieved in my career to that point, and to thank the people who’d helped me along the way.”
Sherry herself is deeply committed to giving back. For the past 20 years, she has served on the boards of public and private companies and not-for-profits, including Women in Capital Markets (Toronto) and the Dress for Success Vancouver Society.
Currently, she’s a director and past chair of the YWCA Metro Vancouver and a director of Unit Electrical Engineering.
“I love it—it’s so great to be able to contribute to another organization as a director,” she says. “It also allows me to see things from a different perspective, and to bring this broader perspective to my work.”
A long-time mentor as well, Sherry advises young CPAs to expand their horizons: “Take responsibility for your life and your career, and always look for opportunities to grow.”
Advice she lives by.