2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

CPAs can be found in every industry, being experts at more than numbers – and they’re great with those, too.

Every month, CPA Manitoba spotlights the diverse and dedicated professionals that prove CPA is more than a designation. 

Being a CPA has afforded me so many opportunities; it has provided a phenomenal backdrop where I could expand my career and my world. The connections made have left me with not only wonderful memories, but learning opportunities and, most importantly, a way to help the next generation of CPAs explore all that the profession has to offer.

You don’t have to talk to Carol Bellringer for long to understand the core beliefs that are woven into the fabric of who she is: a commitment to lifelong learning, a steadfast belief in philanthropy, and a passion for professional excellence and public service. 

What’s interesting about Carol’s story is that she never imagined she would pursue a career in accounting or finance. 

“When it came to my occupation and future goals, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do,” she said. “My uncle in England, who wore the designation with pride, suggested that I give the chartered accountancy profession a look while I reviewed my options.”

Four decades later, Carol has left an enduring mark on the profession and in her community. 

Carol is now the President & CEO of the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation (CAAF), which is dedicated to advancing public sector performance audit, oversight, and accountability in Canada and internationally. 

“As a tenacious proponent of progress, I have the privilege of closing out my career by taking the skills and experience I have accumulated over the years and applying them at the Foundation,” noted Carol, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University and an MBA from the Warsaw School of Economics, L'Université du Québec à Montréal. 

“Our efforts are building bridges that will change the landscape of public sector performance audit, oversight, and accountability, and will help current and future generations advance the profession.”

Combining her strengths in a way that’s second to none, Carol brings a wealth of skill and knowledge in conducting financial statement audits, and performance audits and investigations, that’s elevating the position of the Foundation as a thought leader and center of expertise. 

In her current role, Carol’s responsibilities include implementing the Foundation’s strategic plan, establishing performance targets, management of the CAAF team, and overall financial management of the organization. 

“Working alongside the CAAF team, I’m focused on driving the organization forward, so we can strengthen our impact and value-add within the public sector,” she added. “This means having an understanding of financial impacts, internal and external influences, being able to evaluate circumstances to drive positive outcomes and guide the organization on the best path to success.”

For the astute professional accountant, auditing in the public sector isn’t just about financial statements, it’s also about performance and holding organizations accountable to how well programs are being delivered. “Governments need more than just the numbers; they need to understand what the numbers mean. It’s a very meaningful objective to auditing and is an approach the Foundation was set up to promote.”

Known for her thoughtful leadership and deep-rooted zest for public service, Carol is a committed and visionary leader who has worked tirelessly to advocate for innovative approaches that can revolutionize and advance the field.

“Now more than ever, there is a profound opportunity to build that bridge between the public and private sector on ESG reporting,” Carol explained. “Organizations across the nation will need to perform ESG audits, so there is no better time to talk about it than now.”

“It’s an interesting shift from the former auditor of Canada who started CAAF 40 years ago and puts us in a position where we as CPA’s can be a voice at the table when it comes to effective and transparent ESG reporting.”

Although Carol may be best-known these days for her role with CAAF, her entire career stands on its own merits. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2020, Carol held the prestigious position of Auditor General for the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba. During her terms as Auditor General, she helped issue hundreds of audits on everything from ethical practices and information technology controls to climate change, compliance and enforcement in the mining sector, and even the management of grizzly bears.

She also held several management positions with KPMG in Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg, the City of Winnipeg (City Auditor), and at the University of Manitoba (Director of Private Funding).  

Recognizing the need for greater transparency, Carol contributed to the independent standard setting process of public sector accountability and the credibility of the capital markets and is also a sought-after speaker on matters of transparency, accountability, and financial management.

While Carol’s professional accolades are impressive, it’s her volunteer work that truly exemplifies what it means to give back and give forward.

A community leader with a lengthy history of service and accomplishments, Carol has served on several boards in the public and private sectors, including Auditing and Assurance Standards Oversight Council (ASSOC), Manitoba Hydro, CCAF-FCVI Inc., United Way, CancerCare Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, where she received the “Golden Baton” award for her outstanding community leadership.

Noteworthy in Carol’s volunteer efforts was her extensive leadership involvement with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), where she represented Canada on a global stage for the accounting profession.

“I was touched, humbled, and honoured to have been nominated by CPA Canada to join IFAC. Even though we all spoke the same language (we’re all accountants), it taught me about different cultures and how to communicate on a different level,” she said with an enthusiastic smile.

From meeting the Pope at the World Congress of Accountants to representing IFAC on an anti-corruption task force that advised the G20 and brought about new federal and provincial rules around anti-money laundering, Carol chalks it up to being “an experience of a lifetime”. 

One could say Carol’s career has been an exercise in saying yes when offered an opportunity, but it is the integrity and discipline in which she has carried out each task, that has made her an inspiration to many.

“It’s about taking the leap,” she added. “Being a CPA has afforded me so many opportunities; it has provided a phenomenal backdrop where I could expand my career and my world. The connections made have left me with not only wonderful memories, but learning opportunities and, most importantly, a way to help the next generation of CPAs explore all that the profession has to offer.”

Throughout her career, Carol has displayed the intellect and drive that are fundamental to advancing the profession, but admirably, she attributes her success all to teamwork.

“This wasn’t a one-woman show,” explained the travel enthusiast and avid golfer. “It was teamwork. It was a shared willingness to help, teach, and bring others along on the journey. That is what I have loved most about what I do.”

Carol serves as an example of the profound impact CPAs can make on their community, the profession and their colleagues, and while her achievements have been truly outstanding, she is most proud of her three incredible children and seeing them become thriving adults.