“Having the CPA designation truly puts you in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer,” says Pamela Lee, CPA, CA. For her, this has meant attaining the multifaceted role of a C-suite professional – as chief financial officer (CFO) of Mr. Lube Canada, her responsibilities include overseeing the organization’s strategic planning and financial governance, as well as corporate services such as human resources, IT, and construction.
While she keeps a full schedule executing her many duties as a CFO, she also makes time to give back to her community. “Whether I am volunteering at the Zajac Ranch for Kids that is supported by the Mr. Lube Foundation, or mentoring other women in business, or simply helping at my children’s school functions, I’m a big believer in giving back to communities,” she says. “I relish the people aspect of work and life because I think that’s where the greatest lessons are learned.”
Recently, Pamela took time to share career advice for those pursuing the CPA designation.
If you were talking to a prospective CPA, what would you tell them about the designation and the benefits it brings?
“I would tell them that having a CPA offers you opportunity and flexibility in business and in life. It is the key to opening the doors to a world of endless prospects. It’s your chance to create your own destiny.
I still remember my parents asking me when I was a little girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I proudly announced, “I want to be just like Dad—a CPA.” I must admit, I didn’t know much about the profession. It was just something my dad did, and it looked like fun. He helped businesses grow in Asia and Canada, and it often meant lots of exciting travel for both my parents. That’s something that appealed to me, and as I pursued the CPA designation, I learned there are a lot more benefits than just the letters behind my name.
Can you share some examples of these benefits?
I’ve met CPAs who have started their own music studios, helped build companies that develop life-changing medications, and created lifestyle brands that promote healthy living.
A CPA designation is really a stepping stone to develop a career in an area that matters to you. The training behind the designation provides hands-on experience and a front-row seat to the many facets of business. Moreover, these skills are totally transferrable across industries and countries.”
Looking back to the start of your career, what is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
“Find good mentors who can help you reach your goals. I was very fortunate to have good mentors at the start of my career. They were the people I turned to get inspiration, encouragement, and advice.
Can you tell us something important that you learned from a mentor?
“I remember one of the hardest pieces of advice that my mentor gave was to “be patient.” As someone looking to advance my career, being patient sounded lazy. But I heeded the advice and took the time to gain valuable experience which further honed my management style. Taking the time to develop myself and work with great mentors afforded me the opportunity to lead important projects and promote ideas to grow the business.
In closing, Pamela notes, “Having people to support you is the one piece of advice that I would give to anyone starting out in their careers.”