Meet the BC writers who excelled on the September 2021 CFE
CPABC is proud of the 812 successful BC writers of the September 2021 Common Final Exam (CFE) and would like to give special recognition to the six BC candidates who made the National Honour Roll: Idrina Bouwmeester, Jason Martinson, Krysta Pearcy, Jeet Randhawa, Chanel Rawcliffe, and Sarah Wang. Sarah was also awarded a CPA Canada Gold Medal for achieving the highest standing in Western Canada.
Congratulations to you all!
Birthplace and current city of residence: Port Coquitlam, BC
Employer: KPMG LLP
Job title: Staff Accountant
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? I’ll remember all the giggles (and tears!) during study sessions with my group, blasting Shania Twain songs before each morning of the exam, and the overwhelming relief of finishing day three and celebrating with friends and family!
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. A big breakthrough moment for me was during the last practice case before the exam. I finished addressing the last issue and saw that I still had two minutes to spare. It was a much-needed confidence boost to know that I was as prepared as possible and that it was time to trust the process!
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? First and foremost, thank you to my family for being so amazing throughout the entire journey, and never letting me give up. Thank you to my best friend and sister Melissa and my boyfriend Seann for supporting me through a roller coaster of emotions!
Thank you also to my study partners, Erin Charpentier and Matthew Ebert, for all the laughs, motivational messages, and “good morning!!!” texts. We made so many incredible memories, and I couldn’t imagine a better study team.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all my friends at KPMG for their support, and give a special thanks to Erin Hope, CPA, for her mentorship and encouragement throughout the summer.
I couldn’t have done it without all of you!
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? I’m very excited to see all the vast possibilities and future opportunities that come with a CPA designation! I would love to be able to help others achieve their goals, continue developing my professional skill set, and gain experience working internationally.
Birthplace and current city of residence: Whitby, ON; Victoria, BC
Employer: Schibli Stedman King LLP
Job title: Staff Accountant
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? The feeling of walking outside after finishing CFE day three. You work so hard during the CFE summer that regardless of the outcome, walking out on the last day and seeing your firm there to cheer you on is a pretty magical moment.
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. I had a confidence breakthrough after I wrote the mock CFE. I wrote it under exam conditions at a location I was unfamiliar with to try to simulate what the actual exam would be like. Once I started writing, I got in the zone. After that, I realized that a lot of the stress surrounding the CFE was external to the exam itself and that once I started writing, it would be like any other exam.
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? I’d like to thank my girlfriend, my family, and my friends for putting up with me and providing a constant reminder that there was a life outside of work and school. I would also thank the partners, managers, and my colleagues at Schibli Stedman King for providing helpful advice and encouraging words of wisdom throughout my CPA PEP experience.
Finally, I would like to thank Camosun College, where I did my undergraduate degree. When it comes to preparing students for CPA PEP, the accounting department at Camosun is as good as it gets.
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? I’m looking forward to focusing on my career in public practice, gaining more experience, and honing my skills. It was challenging at times to focus on both CPA PEP and work, so I’m also looking forward to finding a better work-life balance.
Birthplace and current city of residence: Edmonton, AB; Langley, BC
Employer: Grant Thornton LLP
Job title: Senior Accountant
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? The huge feeling of relief I felt after submitting my response on day three of the exam. Also, getting a call from a partner at my firm telling me that I’d not only passed the exam but had made the honour roll—that was truly unexpected!
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. The whole process can be really challenging at first, especially if you aren’t scoring well on practice cases. Even in the weeks leading up to the CFE, there were cases that didn’t go well. However, I tracked my case results over the summer, and that allowed me to step back and see how much progress I was making overall. That’s when I knew I was ready for the exam.
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? I would like to thank my husband Riley for all his support and for keeping me grounded over the last four years of studies. I’d also like to thank my friends for all their encouragement and positivity. Finally, I’d like to thank my firm and my CFE mentor Maple Wong, CPA—she provided thoughtful advice, delivered study snacks, and was dedicated to marking my cases over the summer.
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? It’s exciting to think about all the opportunities available to newly designated CPAs. Working in this profession enables you to develop and use so many different skills, and I love that. Looking ahead, I definitely want to pursue a path that incorporates my passion for helping people and my interest in science.
Birthplace and current city of residence: Burnaby, BC; Vancouver, BC
Employer: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Job title: Senior Associate
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? Driving five to six days a week to meet up with my study buddy—it was a lot of commuting! But looking back, I don’t think I would have done nearly as well without his constant encouragement.
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. I had a big “aha” moment when I took a deep dive into the marking guides in week five and realized it wouldn’t always be possible to give a “perfect” answer because of time constraints. So instead of trying to ensure that every answer was completely perfect, I decided to focus on capturing the main points. This strategy worked out very well for me on a mock CFE in week six.
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? I’d like to thank Karamveer Virdi, my study buddy since core 1; my CFE mentor Isher Sekhon; and my partner Marina Kononenko, who put up with my constant worrying and feelings of failure. Their support was invaluable to me.
One other person I need to thank is my dad. He’d wanted me to be an accountant since I was a kid. I rebelled at first, but after some encouragement, I ended up taking one accounting course, which turned to two, and, eventually, a full-on degree. During my co-op with PwC in the winter of 2019, my dad passed away. In the end, he was the only inspiration I needed to finish this long process and pass the CFE. This is for you Dad—thanks for everything.
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? I’m not sure yet, but right now I’m enjoying the feeling of having completed such a long, difficult journey.
Birthplace and current city of residence: Port Alberni, BC; Victoria, BC
Employer: Grant Thornton LLP
Job title: Senior Accountant
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? Walking out of the building on the last day to a group of my coworkers cheering me on. That was the moment I realized I had just finished the hardest exam of my life.
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. Shortly after I wrote (and completely failed) the mock CFE, my CFE coach helped me see that I was trying to study everything, which was neither possible nor effective. Instead, I needed to focus on studying the important things in an effective way. That changed my outlook for the last half of the summer, helped me focus, and helped me keep my stress under control.
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? I could go on and on with this list, but there are several people who deserve special thanks including my sister Ciara Rawcliffe and my chosen family—Amanda Kramer, Becky Feddema, and Brianna MacInnis.
I’d also like to thank my work family: Steve Haines, CPA, CA; Rich Pearson, CPA, CA; Tony Moniz, CPA, CA; Ryan Kelly, CPA, CA; Sharla Godmaire, CPA; Riley Ilnicki, CPA; Amanda Flower, CPA; Dana Moffatt, CPA, CA; Jeff Cook, CPA; and, last but not least, Judd Nichols, CPA, CA, who delivered the amazing news that I’d made the CFE Honour Roll. Judd has always been so supportive and invested in my success.
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? I want to use my skills to volunteer with a local animal rescue, now that I finally have the time to commit. I also want to explore professional opportunities abroad, so I can travel while building my career.
Sarah Wang – Regional Gold Medallist
Birthplace and current city of residence: Langfang, China; Richmond, BC
Employer: Deloitte LLP
Job title: Senior Consultant
What will you remember most about your CFE experience? After day two of the CFE, I realized that I’d addressed one of the financial reporting AOs [assessment opportunities] incorrectly. I spent the next two months worrying that I’d failed the exam, and then I got the call telling me that I was the regional gold medallist! The whole experience is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Tell us about a breakthrough or “aha” moment during your studies. My biggest breakthrough was when I finally realized that it was okay not to address every single AO perfectly. Growing up, I was a perfectionist. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but one day it just hit me: If I wanted to pass the CFE, I had to adapt my mentality. It was more important to address every AO minimally than answer only a couple of them perfectly. Realizing this made studying and case writing a lot less stressful, and I was actually able to complete the cases within the allotted time.
Who would you like to thank for providing support during your studies? First, I’d like to thank the Deloitte team for their tremendous support and for the amazing CPA study program. Special shout outs go to my CFE coach Jordan Yin; my PERT mentor Bryan Dunn, CPA; and all my other colleagues for their tips and encouragement. I’d also like to thank one of my accounting instructors from university, Erin Rao, CPA, CA, for always challenging me to do my best. Lastly, I’d like to thank my mom, brother, boyfriend, and friends for being my support system and always believing in me.
What do you want to do with your CPA after you qualify? It has always been a goal of mine to eventually get into teaching. I hope that some day I can become an accounting lecturer and inspire students to find enjoyment in accounting, just as my instructors inspired me. I also want to use my CPA skills to help small businesses owners (like my mom) see their businesses grow and thrive.
Photos of Idrina Bouwmeester and Krysta Pearcy by Kent Kallberg Studios. Photos of Jason Martinson and Chanel Rawcliffe by Jesse Hlady Studios. Photo of Jeet Randhawa by Art of Headshots. Photo of Sarah Wang by Deloitte LLP.
Originally published in the January/February 2022 issue of CPABC in Focus.