Growing a brand internationally

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. 

One thing a lot of people don’t know is how internationally portable a CPA designation from Canada is.

To drive from Winnipeg to Panama City, it would take you just over 83 hours behind the wheel. The distance between the two cities is 6,996 kilometers. To get there, you’d have to go through the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It’s not close, has few similarities to Winnipeg, but it is where Jason Archer, CPA, CA ended up.

Archer is the Head of Emerging Markets at Under Armour. “I grew up in St. James in Winnipeg, played sports, loved playing hockey, and coached the game as well,” Archer explained. “I guess you could say I have my dream job now, working for a sporting goods company.”

Archer went to Westwood Collegiate, graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Masters in Accounting before setting his sights on a professional accounting designation. “I chose an accounting designation because I thought I was going to work in public practice, knew I needed a competitive edge, and thought it was the best way to stand out.” He trails off for a second before adding, “It taught me a lot about discipline and hard work too.”

While he was at the University of Manitoba he took some time off to backpack across Asia and the trip was lifechanging. “I guess you could say that’s when my love of traveling began.”

“I got my first job working for Coopers & Lybrand in the Winnipeg office. After a few years I decided I wanted a change and a bit of an adventure, so I asked for an international transfer. I thought I’d end up in Asia, however not long after my bags were packed I was off to the Czech Republic.”

Archer laughs a little as he explains his first day in the Czech Republic. “My partners called me up and said we were merging, and that was the first day of PricewaterhouseCoopers. It was a big day.”

“The Czech Republic was a wild time because the Berlin Wall had just come down, there was a ton of investment and money coming into the region and I was there at the height of it.” He went on to explain some of the mergers and acquisitions he was involved with and credits his experiences in the country as valuable career growth opportunities. “Not only that, but it was a great chance to experience and travel around eastern and central Europe as well."

After about three years, Archer decided he wanted to be closer to home and return to North America. “I thought my career path would be to stick with PricewaterhouseCoopers and maybe make partner one day. But Adidas offered me a job as Head of Internal Audit for the Americas.”

And so he moved from the Czech Republic to Portland, Oregon. “That was a big change. I was there for two years from 2001 to 2003 and then they offered an internal opportunity to move down to Panama.”

Archer thought it was time for another adventure.

“I moved down to Panama in 2003 and eventually became COO of Adidas Latin America. I started in finance and expanded my role. I was in charge of the supply chain, IT, and the entire back end of the operation.”

Archer thought his new career path would be to continue with Adidas and eventually be headquartered in Germany. As it turns out, things worked out differently.

“My boss was headhunted to work for Under Armour and we were pretty close. He said it might be a good time to make a move, so I became VP of International Finance and Operations for Under Armour. We stayed in Panama and opened the office there. For Under Armour, international meant pretty much everything outside of North America.”

I’ve had a chance to attend some of the greatest sporting events in the world.

Archer also got to help open offices across Europe and Asia. “I love to travel and that’s been a key theme throughout my career and my life.”

 

“In December of last year I got the chance to step up and be the Head of Emerging Markets at Under Armour.”

The role took Archer out of a pure finance role and into a general managing role.

“I now oversee all of our emerging markets in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia.”

Archer took a few minutes to reflect on his journey so far and his accounting designation. “One thing a lot of people don’t know is how internationally portable a CPA designation from Canada is. If you have ideas to work and travel, a designation is certainly an effective and respected option around the world.”

There are some perks working for a leading sporting apparel company as well. “I’ve had the chance to attend some of the greatest sporting events in the world. The FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, seeing Canada win the World Cup of Hockey. I never thought I’d be working in the sporting goods industry when I first set out on my career. Under Armour is a great company with lots of growth opportunity ahead. Like I said, it’s my dream job.”

Just in case you’re wondering, as winter approaches here in Manitoba, outside Archer’s office in Panama it’s 33 degrees Celsius and sunny. “My retirement plan is to help Canadian businesses expand internationally, or become a weather reporter in Panama. It’s 30 degrees every day, plus or minus 10 percent,” jokes Archer. A dream job indeed.