The journey to become a CPA is challenging. For members who move to Canada from other countries, there is the additional task of transitioning into a new culture and professional landscape. Some are told they are “overqualified” or lack “Canadian experience” when applying for work; others may find it difficult to find role models they can identify with; and some could find themselves repeatedly facing pre-conceived stereotypes.
We profile three members who overcame these types of challenges to rise to success. Each of them now use their personal experience to help guide and mentor others who are experiencing similar transitions.
Samuel Lau, CPA
“More than ever, in this era of e-commerce and globalization, businesses need advisors to guide them in making decisions,” says Sam Lau. “This is the reason why I took an interest in tax, as this field is always adapting quickly in order to keep pace with these changes.”
Adapting to change is nothing new for Sam, as he’s experienced significant changes throughout his life, including moving to a new country and switching career paths during his post-secondary years. As a tax specialist for KPMG LLP, and active community volunteer, he regularly mentors and guides others in adapting to change, whether it involves responding to new tax legislation, transitioning to a new country, or dealing with a life-changing disease.
Thelma Siglos, CPA, CA
“The CPA designation has given me a mindset to achieve big, hairy, audacious goals,” says Thelma Siglos. “It opened many doors and I chose to broaden my passion for service in various sectors. And as my career progressed, I love the fact that I contribute to good governance and financial integrity – work that is deeply satisfying.”
Notably, throughout a career full of opportunities, Thelma has volunteered considerable time and energy to providing opportunities for others.
Luis Rivero, CPA, CMA
“It was an eye-opener on how to approach continuing my career in a new country. It highlighted many difficulties and misconceptions commonly encountered by new Canadians, and helped me to avoid them in my job search,” says Luis Rivero about a course for professionals that he took through MOSAIC – a registered charity that serves immigrant, newcomer and refugee communities in Greater Vancouver – not long after moving to Vancouver from Bolivia.
Having benefitted as a student, he was later inspired to give back as a teacher; today Luis volunteers with MOSAIC as a mentor to foreign-trained professionals.
CPABC is proud of the diversity of our membership and acknowledges the hard work and resilience that all members have displayed in their efforts to become a CPA.
Leah Giesbrecht is a communications coordinator and Vince Kanasoot is a communications specialist with the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia.
In Other News
Since we first shared information about CPABC’s Indigenous strategy in the January/February 2021 issue of CPABC in Focus, we’ve made considerable progress on two of our medium-term goals: 1) to raise awareness among Indigenous students of the value of careers in business and finance, and of the value of the CPA designation; and 2) work with Indigenous communities to demonstrate the value a CPA provides with regard to financial management capacity and overall nation building.
“I’m not part of this war.” This affirmation set in motion Anas Qartoumeh’s decision to leave his home country of Syria on a journey that would take him to Lebanon, Iraq, and eventually Kelowna, BC.
“Growing up here as I did, it’s so easy to take all of the natural beauty and outdoor activities on your doorstep for granted,” says Mallory Denniston, CPA, CA, CFO for the City of Powell River. “I think especially for young people, big cities have a lot of draws, so when I graduated high school, I went straight to UBC Sauder School of Business. After that, I launched my career with PwC in Vancouver.”