Leaving their signature: How FCPAs have contributed to the profession

By Vince Kanasoot
Apr 25, 2024
Photo credit: Kobus Louw/E+/Getty Images

Equipped with the expertise and skillset that the CPA designation provides, CPAs can pursue career opportunities across industries. Often, the contributions that CPAs make to their workplaces may even lead to positive long-term impacts on organizations and in the profession itself.  

To recognize some of these outstanding contributions, CPABC recently elected 16 CPAs to Fellowship (FCPA), an honour that recognizes members who have rendered exceptional service to the profession and/or communities. FCPAs are part of CPABC’s annual Member Recognition Awards program, which also honours members with the Early Achievement, Distinguished Service, and Lifetime Achievement awards. 

CPABC spoke with newly elected FCPAs Geoff Dodds, Valerie Warren, Scott Munro, Greg Buck, and Judith Marriott on the contributions they have made to the profession and the motivation that sparked these initiatives. 

Leading through change

“You need to have the skillset to adapt quickly to change because change is everywhere around us,” emphasizes Geoff Dodds, FCPA, FCA, when asked about essential tools for success. Geoff, a partner at Buckley Dodds CPA, speaks from experience, as his ability to not only adapt but also lead through change has directly served the accounting profession during challenging times. 

Geoff believes a turning point in his career was when he joined his legacy board. This opportunity later paved the way for him to contribute his leadership during the unification of the profession. “I gained enormous confidence and skills that enabled me to become a leader and carry those leadership skills forward to benefit CPABC over the years that I was on the board,” says Geoff.

All of this served as a precursor. While serving as chair of CPABC’s Board of Directors, Geoff was called upon to lead through one of the biggest periods of change, the COVID-19 pandemic. Equipped with his strong leadership experience, Geoff helped the board and CPABC successfully continue operations, while also championing for EDI and Indigenous engagement initiatives. 

Geoff notes, “I've always felt that we need to expand our profession and partner with Indigenous peoples to grow their communities. This is extremely important to me personally and I’ve been happy to champion it.”

Breaking down barriers

Valerie Warren, FCPA, FCA, an instructor and accounting faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is passionate about breaking down barriers to the CPA profession. 

“In my early years as an instructor, I noticed many graduates returning to KPU to obtain the required credits to enter the CPA program. They were often faced with obstacles, which made it very difficult for them to complete the courses they needed. In response, we decided to develop a post-baccalaureate diploma in accounting for individuals with non-accounting degrees,” she says.

Delivered through KPU’s Melville School of Business, the post-baccalaureate diploma in accounting is a bridge into the CPA program and has the flexibility to be completed on a part or full-time basis, beginning at several points throughout the year. The flexibility widened the accessibility of the CPA profession to individuals who might otherwise be sidelined. 

Valerie notes that the development and roll-out of this diploma program is one of her proudest career achievements and that many graduates have gone on to obtain their CPA designation. She’s also pleased to have seen a large number of these CPAs now working with and supporting local businesses in Surrey, where KPU is located. 

Sustainability and economic reconciliation 

Scott Munro, FCPA, FCA, has made contributions to the profession that advance sustainability and reconciliation for Indigenous communities. As deputy CEO, First Nations Financial Management Board, Scott advocates for implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by engaging the public and private sectors to lead systemic change for Indigenous people.

This has included presenting to the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) on the benefits of including Indigenous knowledge in ISSB standard setting, as well as providing information on protocols Indigenous peoples follow when conducting meetings.

“If businesses embrace and, more importantly, include Indigenous peoples in decision making and senior levels of management and executive roles, businesses can identify new opportunities and manage risk in a much better way than how they otherwise would,” explains Scott.

One key aspect of Scott’s work is helping Indigenous communities gain the tools needed to independently manage and govern finances. For example, he oversaw the development of financial management system standards for First Nations governments and the delivery of certification services that allow First Nations to access the global bond market. 

In leading positive change, Scott believes his empathy as a leader has been key and it always starts with putting one’s self in other people's shoes. “I think having empathy grounds you as a leader to ensure you're not making assumptions about what someone else is doing or what someone else's experiences are.”

Personalized attention and service

When Greg Buck, FCPA, FCA, founded KEY Financial Group LLP, he built his firm on his awareness of the importance of personalized client service. Greg leaned into this and continued a career on gaining trust and providing personalized, transparent services that his clients valued. 

“It doesn't matter what you did before, you have to treat the next client that comes in as the most important client and do the best job in the world,” says Greg. “Remember that clients look to CPAs with a lot of trust. Losing that trust can never be regained. And so to keep that trust, you have to be honest. You have to be forthright.”

Also a dedicated educator, Greg taught business and accounting at the University College of the Fraser Valley for 17 years. When he later re-directed his passion for teaching by serving as a PD instructor for CPABC, he recognized it was also an opportunity to help others who are running their own practice or working at small local firms. By sharing solutions to challenges he had faced as well as best practices for servicing clients, Greg was able to provide essential information to small practitioners that they might not otherwise receive.  

In his support of the CPA community, Greg has also acted as an advisor for small public practice firms, and has mentored and supported sole practitioners including establishing CPABC’s Fraser Valley Practitioner Forum. 

When asked about what inspires him to continue helping CPAs build their knowledge, he says, “If I tell you that you can do something, it means nothing to you. If I show you how you can do it, it means everything to you. That's what I try to do.”

Accessibility and inclusion in education

“Accessibility to education is important because education is life-changing for everybody,” says Judith Marriott, FPCA, FCA, chair, department of business, North Island College (NIC).

Throughout Judith’s career, she has advocated for and developed ways to make post-secondary education accessible, including to many who’ve entered the CPA profession. In recent years, this has included leveraging technology so that students who need to can participate virtually, as well as supporting students who may require alternative learning or testing options.

Her support has contributed to many success stories, but when asked to recall one in particular, Judith noted, “I had a student who was fantastic. She did well on her assignments and was engaged in class, but struggled on her midterms. I encouraged her to connect with the Department of Accessible Learning which in turn, was able to facilitate her writing the next exam under their supervision and this was very successful.  It’s essential to find a way to support the student's success.” 

Judith’s experience with increasing accessibility in education stems from over 30 years ago when she first began teaching at NIC. At the time, the only way for students to take the upper-level courses required to obtain the accounting designation was by correspondence at other post-secondary institutions, which was through mail and phone call with instructors. 

This all changed when Judith began teaching upper-level accounting, taxation, and auditing courses at the college, offering the expertise she gained from authoring and marking exams for the CPA program. Judith is proud of her role in developing and mentoring the CPAs who are now serving the local business community. She notes that many former NIC students can be found in almost every accounting firm in the Comox Valley and Campbell River, with some of them serving as partners and senior managers in those accounting firms.

Do you know a fellow CPA who deserves to be nominated for FCPA? Check out the award criteria and submit your nomination today.

Headshots courtesy of Kent Kallberg Studios.

Vince Kanasoot is a communications specialist with CPABC

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