On the Cover: Early Achievement Award Winners
By Michelle McRae, Editor
Each year, the Institute grants awards for early achievement to CAs who have made significant professional accomplishments and community contributions within ten years of earning the CA designation. Three CAs have been chosen for this year’s awards: Lenora Lee, CA; Mike Parker, CA; and Nolan Watson, CA.
Lenora Lee, CA
Lenora Lee is a very busy individual. In addition to managing a full client load, the senior manager at KPMG LLP in Victoria oversees and participates in her firm’s recruiting activities, teaches at the University of Victoria, and volunteers extensively in the community.
It’s hard to believe she earned her CA only four years ago.
Lenora began articling with KPMG in 2002, after completing a bachelor of commerce from the University of Victoria (along the way, earning a Faculty of Business Award of Excellence for having the highest GPA).
“When I began articling, I was aware of the stereotypes regarding accountants,” Lenora remembers. “But soon after starting, I was happy to discover that every day is dynamic and unique.”
After earning her CA in 2005, she stayed on with KPMG as a manager. Partners and clients alike were impressed with her abilities. They were so impressed, in fact, that the firm decided to promote her to senior manager in 2007—two years ahead of the typical schedule.
Lenora has risen to the task, taking on a high level of responsibility that includes a considerable and diverse client roster.
“Maintaining this client mix requires me to continue learning about different businesses and the applicable accounting standards,” she says. “I’ve worked with fantastic clients in a variety of industries so far, and I’ve found it particularly rewarding to gain such a breadth of knowledge and experience.”
Lenora also manages the firm’s recruitment program in Victoria, and says she “enjoys staying connected with local post-secondary institutions and seeing new students join the firm each year.” So far, she has played a major role in the hiring of approximately 40 students.
She also participates as a speaker at panels and forums on post-secondary education, speaking to secondary and post-secondary students about career opportunities for CAs.
“The recruiting and teaching aspects of my career have been particularly rewarding as well,” Lenora says. “I’ve worked with many teachers, all with different backgrounds, who’ve shared their experiences with me and taught me a tremendous amount about all aspects of business. I appreciate the time and patience that others spent with me as an articling student, and I hope to pass this same philosophy on to others.”
Accordingly, she serves as a mentor to her firm’s students, guiding them through the entire CASB experience, from Module 1 registration to UFE prep.
“The time I spend with our articling students will help them learn new skills and knowledge, which, in turn, will help them become successful,” she says. “Celebrating with them when they earn their designations is always one of the highlights of the year—there’s so much excitement as they get ready to start their careers as new CAs.”
If that weren’t enough, in 2008, Lenora became a sessional instructor with her alma mater, teaching financial and management accounting for specialists. She is also deeply involved in the community.
“Community service is an opportunity for me to give back to all the organizations that have shaped me as a person,” she says.
A member of the executive of the Alumni Association for the Faculty of Business at UVic for the past seven years, Lenora helped organize the Association’s launch and continues to help with networking events while also serving as the Association’s secretary-treasurer. She is also an active member of the Victoria Chinese Commerce Association, a cross-cultural business association that promotes business growth within Victoria and facilitates Chinese and Canadian commercial enterprise.
In 2008, Lenora participated as a community leader in the Minerva Foundation’s Victoria “Follow a Leader” program, which pairs emerging leaders with ten established leaders for training workshops and job-shadowing opportunities. And during a term as a member of the Victoria Foundation’s Community Fund and Arts and Heritage Committee, she has reviewed and communicated on financial-related matters, screened Fund applicants, and made recommendations on grant recipients.
“I believe it’s my responsibility to give back to organizations that do so much with limited resources and recognition,” she says. “If I can contribute time, knowledge, or resources to help an organization that would not otherwise be able to operate as successfully, I will gladly do so.”
As for her Early Achievement Award? Lenora is mindful of those who’ve helped her get so far in such a short time.
“This award is not something I could have obtained without the support of all those I’ve worked with throughout my career,” she says. “Many mentors have taken time out of very busy schedules to teach me, and they’ve helped me to be successful. I thank them for providing me with opportunities to be challenged and for having confidence in my abilities. I’m grateful as well for the many family members and friends who have supported me during my education and career.”
Looking ahead, Lenora is looking forward to travelling and enjoying quality time with friends at a number of upcoming weddings. When it comes to the long-term, she says simply: “I look forward to more challenges, opportunities, and lifelong learning.”
Michael D. H. Parker, CA
When Mike Parker graduated from high school in Terrace in 1991, he knew one thing for certain: The best way to protect himself in a difficult economy would be to build a strong skill set. He has continued building on his skill set ever since.
Today, Mike is the partner in charge of taxation advisory services at Daley & Company LLP Chartered Accountants, the largest independent firm in Kamloops.
No one is more surprised than he that public practice has become his niche.
In 1995, Mike was a 22-year-old working on a bachelor of commerce at the University of Victoria, majoring in entrepreneurship, when he got an exciting opportunity to start his own business as a retail/wholesale specialty coffee importer. Eager for the challenge, Mike put his undergraduate studies on hold to open and manage GroundWorks Coffee Co. He oversaw the entire operation from conception, including financing, construction, and operations management.
“Terrace had been under-exploited in terms of specialty coffee, so I saw a real market for it,” he recounts. “It ended up being an extraordinary learning experience. I gained a firsthand understanding of the small business retail and wholesale marketplace, and I discovered what kind of fortitude it takes to be an entrepreneur.”
After two years spent working tirelessly to get GroundWorks up and running, Mike decided it was time to complete his business degree. So he sold his company and went back to school full-time, graduating from UVic in 1999.
That same year, he joined the Kamloops office of KPMG LLP in pursuit of the CA designation, which he saw as a valuable stepping-stone to a career in industry. Within his first year of articling, however, he had a completely new vision for his future.
“I was shocked to discover how much I enjoyed public practice,” he remembers. “I thought I would get my CA training and move on, but public practice was much more dynamic than I’d expected. I loved the learning curve, and there were so many smart, talented people to work with—I actually loved getting up and going to work in the morning!”
So when Mike qualified as a CA in 2002, he stayed with KPMG, working as a member of its taxation advisory services team and advising clients on a variety of taxation issues. That same year, he completed the CICA’s In-Depth Tax Course.
Then in 2005, another pivotal opportunity presented itself: a partnership offer with Daley & Company (then Becker Daley LLP).
“It was a difficult decision to leave KPMG,” he says, “but ultimately I saw it as an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Even while I was articling, I knew I wanted to be a partner—I wanted to be at the front of client relationships.”
Today, he advises a broad range of clients on business, accounting, and taxation issues. He’s also in charge of his firm’s financial management.
“When I first joined Daley & Company, the firm had no tax department,” he says. “I had the opportunity to lead in its development, and today our tax department has four full-time members in tax.”
In his work with clients, Mike has found his entrepreneurial background invaluable.
“I can really identify with business owners,” he says. “I’ve experienced what it’s like to be on their side of things, and I remember what it was like to work with an accountant and not fully understand what they were telling me. So I have a good understanding of my clients’ point of view, which helps me give them the information they need to make truly informed decisions.”
“I get to know my clients on a personal level,” he adds, “and I want to go above and beyond for them. As a tax practitioner, that means staying up to date and continually learning. It’s challenging, but it’s the kind of challenge I enjoy. I like building a skill set that is useful and in demand.”
That skill set has made him highly desirable in the community as well. In 2008, Mike was appointed chair of the finance committee for the board of governors of Thompson Rivers University. Past community service includes serving on the board of directors of the Kamloops West Rotary Club and as treasurer on the board of directors of the Kamloops and District Crime Stoppers.
With so much on his plate, Mike is extremely grateful for the love and support of family. “My parents have always supported me,” he says. “And my wife, Melanie is very supportive as well.”
He and Melanie have a six-year-old daughter, Ellie, of whom they are extremely proud. “I try to spend as much time with her as possible,” Mike says. “It seems like just last week she was a toddler. Time passes so quickly.”
This Early Achievement Award is really just icing on the cake.
“The biggest reward,” Mike says, “is that I have a challenging career that I thoroughly enjoy.”
Nolan Watson, CA, CFA
“The most rewarding part of my career has been the satisfaction associated with attaining goals I’ve set for myself,” says Nolan Watson. “I tend to ignore the goals that other people set for me. I prefer to focus on goals that I believe are both highly challenging and attainable.”
It’s fair to say that he sets these goals very high. Asked what drives him, he answers: “I’m driven by an awareness that life is very short, and since you only live once, you had better make it count.”
After earning a bachelor of commerce with honours from the University of British Columbia in 2001, Nolan entered the CA program as an articling student with Deloitte LLP in Vancouver. In 2002, he excelled on the UFE, placing fourth nationally and first in BC, which netted him a gold medal and the role of valedictorian at the 2003 Convocation ceremony.
While working with Deloitte, Nolan found a valuable mentor in Glenn Ives, CA, one of the firm’s partners.
“Glenn definitely had an impact on my career development,” he says. “He was an early role model for me who helped me develop a passion for client service, as well as an eagerness to challenge and extend myself.”
Nolan qualified as a CA in 2003, and stayed with Deloitte for another two years, working in the firm’s corporate finance department performing business valuations and merger and acquisition support services. In 2005, he became a chartered financial analyst charter holder.
It was also in 2005 that Nolan left public practice to join Silver Wheaton Corp. as its controller. He was the company’s first employee. Ian Telfer, the company’s founder, became another influential mentor.
“The knowledge and experience I obtained from becoming a CA is a critical foundation for effective business decision-making,” Nolan says. “Ian has helped me build on that foundation, teaching me a lot about various aspects of business, including acquisitions, and about mentoring others to help them reach their potential.”
Nolan was promoted to CFO at the beginning of 2006. During his three years with Silver Wheaton, Nolan was part of the team that listed the company on the New York Stock Exchange. He subsequently became the youngest CFO of an NYSE-listed company, at just 26 years old. By the age of 28, he had raised over $1 billion in debt and equity for acquisition purposes. Under his leadership, Silver Wheaton grew from a market capitalization of $0.3 billion to $3 billion.
In 2008, Nolan left Silver Wheaton to become the president and CEO of a new company, Sandstorm Resources.
“I made the move because I wanted to be part of building a company from the ground floor again,” he explains.
Listed on the TSX-V, the company is looking to build a metal-streaming business plan similar to that of Silver Wheaton, but in metals other than silver. In April 2009 alone, Nolan raised $47 million for the company.
In addition to his role at Sandstorm Resources, Nolan currently serves as a director of another TSX-V listed company, Gold Wheaton Gold Corp., another company founded by his mentor Ian Telfer.
Nevertheless, Nolan downplays his accomplishments, saying: “To be candid, I’m not overly impressed with my accomplishments yet.”
This, despite the fact that he was named to Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 list in 2006, and voted one of the most motivated CFAs in the world by CFA Magazine in 2008.
Asked what has been most challenging so far in his career, Nolan says, “ensuring that my career goals are consistent with my life goals.”
These life goals include making a difference in the community. Passionate about community development, Nolan founded an international humanitarian organization called Nations Cry in 2004. The organization builds schools to provide education for orphans in Sierra Leone, Africa.
“Our goal is to provide youth with a sense of hope,” he says, “as well as the tools and education needed to help them move out of poverty and change their lives and the lives of their families, as well as helping future generations.”
Nolan continues to serve as the president of Nations Cry.
“I want to make the world a better place,” he says. “We shouldn’t just focus on doing those things that make us feel good, we should also focus on things that will actually make a permanent difference, and education is at the top of that list.”
Another key life goal is making time for those who matter most.
“There is no question that my family, my daughters, and my wife Dana are the most important people in my life,” Nolan says, adding that support of his loved ones is invaluable. “They ensure that I work towards attaining my potential, while also keeping me grounded.”