Lynn Cook

Forty Under 40 winner 2014:  CFO, U.S., Colliers International, Age: 39

Lynn Cook almost rejected the career path of accounting because she believed accountants were dull.

A Grade 12 internship at KPMG helped kill that stereotypical perception and convinced her that “no matter what job you have, who you are is your character.”

She joined KPMG full-time as an accountant following her accounting diploma at what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Then she made a series of jumps that culminated in her promotion last summer to the role of Vancouver-based CFO for U.S. operations at Colliers International.

The first jump was to the troubled Loewen Group, just after the funeral home operator had filed for bankruptcy protection. What she called an intellectually draining environment drove her to apply for a job at Overwaitea Food Group, where she was an analyst, a supervisor in corporate accounting and finally a senior analyst.

Unfortunately, Overwaitea was based in Langley, and Cook longed to move from her native Surrey to the region’s centre.

Vancouver-based Intrawest lured her to the job of manager of financial reporting, and she worked up to be the $2 billion company’s director of financial reporting.

A couple years in, when Fortress Investment Group bought Intrawest, she was given a huge task.

“They gave me the task to implement a consolidation system within 90 days, which was incredibly difficult,” Cook said.

Then a recruiter offered her what she thought would be her perfect job just as she completed the task at Fortress, so she jumped at it. She wanted to be more involved with strategy, and a two-year stint as Colliers’ corporate controller for North America fit the bill.

Multi-year positions as Colliers’ global director of finance and global vice-president of corporate development followed.

A brief stint in Hong Kong as acting Colliers CFO in Asia last year similarly fuelled her wanderlust.

Married with no children, Cook spends much of her time outside of work mentoring younger Colliers associates.