Beyond spreadsheets: The value a CPA can bring to your business

By Business in Vancouver
Dec 4, 2023
Photo credit: Jon-Mark Photography

Holding a CPA designation offers a career path with a toolkit full of business essentials and business acumen

Living in one of Canada’s most temperate settings, on an island, operating at a decidedly idyllic pace and a job centred almost entirely on beer. Judging by virtually any metric, it’s safe to say Derek Young has a pretty sweet gig.

As it turns out, it’s precisely Young’s mastery of metrics that has got him to this point. Through his training as a chartered professional accountant (CPA), Young possesses a knowledge base and skillset as vast as his ocean surroundings in Victoria, B.C.: from big-picture planning to smaller, everyday tasks, Young’s wheelhouse goes from advising executive teams to helping decide which beers to produce alongside his colleagues at Phillips Brewing.

“I have always taken an interest in many different areas, but Phillips has allowed me to not only own all aspects of accounting, finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury and payroll, it also allowed me to be creative,” explains Young, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer.

“I don’t find there is anything typical from one day to the next, because I have my hands in so many things.”

A comprehensive career path

This versatility is one of the primary factors that drew Young to pursue his CPA designation.

The skills acquired during his training provided him with knowledge applicable to many different areas, opening doors to a broader realm of opportunities to align his interests with his career and allowing him to extend his reach across the many facets of the Phillips business.

This is the image of a modern CPA: diverse skills, adaptability and a wide range of exciting opportunities. Young is just one example, but you can find CPAs working across a myriad of industries, including finance, data analytics, audit, tax, startups and nonprofits, among other fields.


Photo credit: Jon-Mark Photography


From an employer standpoint, hiring or training a CPA strikes the ideal balance of having a business-minded professional well-versed in strategy and corporate responsibility paired with someone ethically minded, providing a comprehensive approach that can help transform your business while ensuring positive outcomes.

Regarding positive outcomes, perhaps the biggest feather in Young’s cap is how he leveraged his role as a CPA to help the brewery’s owner, Matt Phillips, realize his goal of pivoting the company towards employee ownership.

Creating opportunities

This historic shift will give employees the opportunity to be owners as well as brewers, bottlers and beer evangelists. Dedicated employees who have been with the company for three years will be eligible to become owners.

“In this instance, it was the soft skills that a CPA designation helps develop that really allowed me to make an impact,” Young says. “Throughout the process, I tried to keep an eye on individuals in various roles in the company, how they would be impacted, and what this would mean to their day-to-day.”

Young’s advice for prospective CPAs focuses on the importance of being nimble. Accounting is an important piece, but so are soft skills – understanding different business needs and any number of other factors and elements.

“As for advice to a hiring manager, I would say to look beyond the numbers and see what other experience they can draw from,” Young says. “I am willing to bet there’s a number of amazing and useful skills that you’ll never know about if you only hire for spreadsheet abilities.”

Originally published by Business in Vancouver


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