I grew up in southern Saskatchewan on a farm with four sisters and one brother. We had a lot of freedom to run around. It was fabulous, when I think back to it. It was also a lot of hard work because everyone had to contribute.
I didn’t think I would be an accountant. That really wasn’t on the radar screen when I graduated from high school. My first plan was to go to a secretarial school and become a legal secretary. My mother sat me down one day and said: “Why would you want to be the secretary when you could be the leader?” She was the one that encouraged me to go to university and to progress. My other siblings would call me “bossy” but she would call me a leader.
I went to the University of Saskatchewan, where I got my bachelor of commerce. I took my first job in Calgary with a national accounting firm where I did my articles and became a partner in the firm. There was an opportunity to transfer back to Saskatoon. We spent 20 or so years there and then moved to Vancouver.
I think the best advice that I ever got was to speak up, say what it is that you want to accomplish and then work towards the goal. I did, and that’s where I think I got the support from other partners in the practice to help me reach my goal. Early in my career I saw the partners in the firm and the kinds of things that they were doing. I was fortunate to be able to attend some very impactful meetings with major clients in the Calgary market that really confirmed for me: “Yeah, this is what I’d like to do when I grow up.”
When I stop to think about it, the actual technical accounting is kind of boring. The fun part is working with people.
I don’t really accept the term work-life balance because I don’t think it’s ever in balance. I prefer to think about it as work-life integration. You work to ensure that you can maximize the benefits of both.
I got involved in non-profit work even before I started in a career. In our family it was always important to give back to the community, so it’s something that I’ve been doing all my life. For many years I was involved in the profession at the boards of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and then CPA Canada.
United Way has always been one that’s near and dear to me. I currently sit on the board of Covenant House Vancouver. I also am chair of the board of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. We are in the process of building the first children’s hospital in Saskatchewan. That’s pretty exciting. I find the work in the non-profit sector to be very rewarding, and I can honestly say that I generally get more out of it than I put into it.
I plan to retire from public practice in May. After that I will continue with the non-profit work that I’m currently doing; I will be looking for a couple of corporate boards to go onto. We’ll see what happens after that.
Join us to celebrate this year’s honourees at the 2018 Influential Women in Business Awards on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, hosted at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info, visit www.biv.com/iwib.