Benitta Anselm-Nerio, CPA, CMA began her journey to become a CPA while living in civil war-ravaged Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009) lasted 26 years and caused severe hardships for many of the country’s approximately 21.5 million citizens. While fighting continued, Anselm-Nerio was in high school writing a university acceptance exam.
“The exam is very competitive. In Sri Lanka, not everyone can go to university. I was lucky that I did well on the Sri Lankan Advanced Level exam (similar British Advanced Level) in high school and that I was accepted into the Business Administration program at the University of Jaffna,” explained Anselm-Nerio.
As soon as she graduated, she got the opportunity to work as a Program and Finance Assistant with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In her three and half years, Anselm-Nerio helped UNDP with verified payment requests, financial records, administrative services to site offices, fund expenditure and budgetary reports for management and donors, field office inventory records and more.
After gaining some experience, she transitioned to another UN Agency called the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as a Finance Assistant. There, she assisted in reviewing and processing project payments, monitoring field offices’ operational and project expenses, ensured compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
“I enjoyed working at UNDP and UNOPS as they were both very professional and worked towards bettering countries around the world. In addition, I was happy that I got to contribute to my community as Sri Lanka has been affected by war and tsunamis over the years,” said Anselm-Nerio.
Like many Sri Lankans during this time, Anselm-Nerio and her family were looking for an opportunity to relocate.
“With a lockdown situation happening in our area, we wanted to leave and move to a peaceful country. From my job experience, I was able to apply for the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and we landed in Canada in 2011,” she explained.
Anselm-Nerio arrived in Canada with her husband and her two young children (18-month-old and four-month-old). After getting used to her new surroundings, she found an advertisement for an accounting designation and thought it was the perfect way to continue her career.
“First, I filed my application for the legacy CMA program. They then checked my degree and it was recognized as an equivalent to a Business and Commerce degree in Canada. It all checked out and it was an exciting day knowing that I would be allowed in the program,” said Anselm-Nerio.
However, starting over in a new country is challenging and that is when the CMA Foundation (now CPA Manitoba Foundation) assisted her. She received an internationally educated scholarship from the Foundation that provided the financial assistance necessary for her to pursue her education and care for her family.
“It would have been very difficult for me to continue on in my education if I hadn’t received financial support from the Foundation,” said Anselm-Nerio.
In addition, the CMA program provided tutoring support and that is when she met Donovan Henzel, CPA, CMA, now Executive Director of the CPA Manitoba Foundation.
The CPA Manitoba Foundation’s purpose is to change lives by improving access to business and accounting education in Manitoba. The Foundation achieves this by removing financial barriers (distributing scholarships, bursaries and awards), engaging and creating relationships with donors, members and award recipients and creating opportunities for fund development (through engaging events, online donations and donor-advised funds).
“Benitta was a great student. I’m honoured to have played a part in helping her and I was super proud of her when she obtained her designation,” said Henzel.
For over six years now, Anselm-Nerio has been working as a Staff Accountant at Postmedia Network Inc. – a Canadian news media company that represents more than 140 newspaper brands. Her main duties include preparing monthly reconciliations of balance sheet accounts to subsidiary ledgers and resolving discrepancies, reviewing balance sheet reconciliations, performing monthly financial statement and budget analysis, going over month-end and year-end processes, reconciling bank accounts, preparing quarterly audit binders and more.
Anselm-Nerio recalls that one of the most rewarding projects that she has been a part of was Postmedia going through a big transition.
“Postmedia had just acquired more media outlets and they were restructuring all the accounting and business side of their operations. There were 10 different systems that each pulled reports from the trunk system and then we would read the resolutions. Next, all 10 of these systems were integrated into one advertising system. My manager chose me to help setup the GL interface to connect the new advertising system and the general ledger," she explained. “So, I studied the new system and figured out the reports required to set up a reconciliation process with the advertising system.”
Anselm-Nerio has achieved professional success as a CPA through her incredible work ethic, resilience and support she was given by the CPA Manitoba Foundation.
“The day I received the scholarship from the Foundation is a moment in my life that I’ll never forget. The scholarship allowed me to attain my accounting designation and be recognized as someone who is a leader and essential for every company and business,” Anselm-Nerio said with a smile. “Thank you to the CPA Manitoba Foundation and all the work that you do.”