The business professional for the month of February is Jonathan Stewart.
I graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2009 with a Bachelor in Business Administration. During my undergrad I worked two co-op semesters with KPMG, one summer and one busy season, ultimately starting full-time in January 2009 as a staff accountant. During my final two years with KPMG I represented the Burnaby office as the recruitment manager. After a difficult decision I left KPMG in March 2015 as a Senior Manager to join the Vancouver Airport Authority as the Manager, Financial Reporting.
Why did you decide to become a CPA?
It was really a no brainer for me. After taking accounting in high school I knew I had a knack for numbers and that my path would ultimately lead me to be a CPA. During my undergrad the more I learned about the various opportunities available to designated professionals within public practice and industry the more solidified was my desire to become a CPA. I was always amazed to see CPAs working in so many different industries and roles, many of which were outside of accounting. I realized that the rigorous training from obtaining a CPA designation provided technical and soft skills that were transferable to many different career opportunities. Another enticing aspect of obtaining my CPA was the allure of having an internationally recognized designation as I knew that I would always have opportunities both domestically and abroad. As cliché as it is, the opportunities available to CPAs are limitless.
How did you get your start with the Vancouver Airport Authority?
While I was on my honeymoon in Nepal a colleague and friend of mine connected me with two KPMG alumni who worked at the Vancouver Airport Authority as Directors. Shortly after arriving back in Vancouver I met the two of them for coffee to hear about the opportunities with the Vancouver Airport Authority. I never thought I would leave public practice given the opportunities within the firm and the great people that I was working with. After hearing about their experiences and the benefits of working in industry I saw little downside to taking the opportunity as it would diversify my experience, provide me with an opportunity to work with a world class organization and provide me with better work life balance to allow me to also focus on other passions in my life. Overall it has been a great experience working at the Vancouver Airport Authority.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor or colleague?
My greatest piece of advice that I have received from a colleague of mine was to never be afraid of making mistakes. The fear of making mistakes will only hold you back from opportunities and will result in the opposite outcome that you were hoping, which is to make more mistakes. Making mistakes is a part of the process of development and only by learning from our mistakes will we be able to grow and develop, not only professionally, but personally.
What is your proudest achievements in/outside work?
My proudest achievement in my career has been the opportunity I had to lead the KPMG Burnaby office recruitment during 2013 and 2014. Being able to share my experiences, provide insight into the profession and provide an opportunity to talented, well-deserving students that would shape their careers will always be a memorable experience in my career. As an extension, after recruiting these students I was able to mentor and witness them develop into professionals within their careers.
My proudest achievement outside of work has been living life to the fullest with my amazing wife and really taking the work hard, play hard mentality to everything that I do. Whether it be challenging myself to outdoor adventures like the West Coast Trail or travelling to and experiencing diverse cultures in over 20 countries in the world I have been fortunate enough to explore life’s adventures along with prospering in my career.