Making a difference

You can help so many people working in the non-profit sector, and as a CPA, I know I’m making a difference.

Jenna Labossiere, CPA, grew up on a quiet street in St. Vital. She attended Collège Jeanne-Sauvé – the first French immersion high school in Western Canada. Down the street, she worked part-time at Dakota House – an assisted living facility for older adults. The job, although she didn’t know it at the time, would have a big impact on her future career as a CPA.

“I really enjoyed working at Dakota House and I felt like I made a difference. That feeling was one that I wanted to continue to have in my career, even though I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like yet,” Labossiere explains.

After her high school graduation, Labossiere decided to enroll at the University of Manitoba but wasn’t she sure what she wanted to pursue.

“At first, I just knew that I wanted to do something in business but found the adjustment from high school to university a challenge. Looking back, I think that was a really important year, it definitely taught me that if I wanted to be successful I was going to have to work hard and focus in on my goal,” says Labossiere.

After a year at the U of M, Labossiere transferred to the Université de Saint-Boniface to continue her studies. It was there that she started to develop her interest in accounting.

I quickly realized how important my CPA designation was going to be, so I began the Professional Education Program (PEP) right away.

“When I started taking business and accounting classes at the Université de Saint-Boniface, it all started to click for me. The content we were learning was challenging, but I felt engaged and excited to learn because I realized what I wanted to do as a career,” says Labossiere.

After a couple of years at the Université, she returned to the U of M to complete her Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction, graduating with a Major in Accounting and Human Resources in 2014.

Labossiere completed her CPA designation in 2017 as one of the first groups to complete the PEP. Shortly after, she accepted the role of Manager of Finance and Administration at A & O: Support Services for Older Adults Inc., which provides specialized programs and services to the growing older population in Manitoba.

Labossiere’s transition to a non-profit shortly after receiving her CPA designation was important to her because it allowed her to make a direct difference in her community.

“Since I’ve always had an interest in social responsibility, I felt that it was important for me to pursue that as an accountant. You can help so many people working in the non-profit sector, and as a CPA, I know I’m making a difference.”

Jump into it and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. The program is designed to help you succeed.

At A & O, Labossiere executes a variety of tasks in her role at the non-profit, established over 60 years ago, including financial reporting, applying for grants and sourcing new funds. She also helps with finding and creating initiatives to help improve the overall organization.

“Working at A & O has been very rewarding because I’m able to help different departments within the organization. I like that this role requires me to be fully engaged because I’m gaining a lot of experience in the non-profit sector while simultaneously helping make A & O a more impactful organization.”

Labossiere also gives back to the accounting profession, recently taking on the role of PEP module facilitator.

Every organization needs a CPA, so you can combine what you’re passionate about with the work you can do as a CPA.

“I just finished facilitating my first module and it was great to be able to help the candidates just like my facilitators helped me. It is certainly interesting to be on the ‘other side’ of the education process and it really provided a great perspective on the PEP and its value. I’ve also enjoyed learning more about the profession alongside the candidates.”

Reflecting on her education and career experience to date, Labossiere credits the knowledge she got by working through the PEP assignments as some of the most important work that helped her prepare for her current position.

“I didn’t even really realize all the skills I was learning during my designation studies. The reports I prepared – including the analysis and casework – have directly translated with what I do now in this role,” says Labossiere.

You can help so many people, and as a CPA, I know I’m making a difference.

Her advice for those in the PEP right now?

“Jump into it and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. It seems a little daunting at first, but the program is designed to help you succeed - it teaches you in a logical, purposeful way. Before long, it will be over and you’ll look back fondly on what you went through. When you enter the workforce and apply what you learned in a meaningful way, you’ll be able to appreciate the designation experience even more.”

Labossiere also encourages students and candidates to pay attention to their goals and passions while working through the program.

“Every organization needs a CPA, so you can combine what you’re passionate about with the work you can do as a CPA. Whether you want to take a job halfway around the world or stay in Manitoba and work for a non-profit, there is a position for you. Keep up the hard work and you’ll get there in no time.”