Two Outstanding Students
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.
Mitchell Peters, CPA, CFE Honour Roll Recipient
Growing up in Gnadenthal, Manitoba (a one street village just south of Winkler), the prospect of becoming a CPA wasn’t the first career that came to Mitchell Peters’ mind.
“My dad is a farmer, but he always said if he wasn’t, he probably would have been an accountant. Turns out, my older brother became a farmer and I decided to be an accountant,” Peters said with a chuckle.
In school, Peters was always drawn to mathematics, computers and anything that involved numbers. He got his first taste of accounting in grade 11 and this is where his love of accounting started.
“It just came so naturally for me. In grade 11, I think I got over 100 per cent in my accounting courses because of bonus marks. It was one of those things that just clicked for me and made sense,” he said.
After completing high school, Peters went on to attend the Asper School of Business. There he majored in accounting and joined BDO as a summer student. When he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, BDO offered him a full-time position while he worked towards becoming a CPA.
“I knew the CPA designation was key to opening up doors and opportunities for me in the future. It is a very well-recognized credential that could take me to many different places,” explained Peters.
While enrolled in the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP), his life became busier, as he was also planning his wedding.
“My CPA PEP experience was unique because my wife and I ended up getting married between the assurance and tax modules. I wrote the assurance exam a week before our wedding and then we went on our honeymoon. As soon as we got back, I started right into tax,” he said.
This gave Peters inspiration for his own personal mantra.
“I like to say, if we can make it through our first year of marriage while I was in the CPA PEP, then we can make it through anything,” he said with a laugh.
And so, he did. After passing all modules, Peters went on to write the Common Final Exam (CFE). This was the last hurdle in becoming a CPA. He passed with flying colours landing on the CFE Honour Roll in the process.
“Leading up to the CFE, I planned on studying two months straight and at the time it sounded pretty daunting, but you kind of get in a groove with good study habits,” explained Peters. “Receiving the phone call that not only did I pass but was also on the honour roll was a huge relief and also thrilling to know I did so well.”
On top of that, Peters has also been recognized for his accomplishments at university, achieving the Silver Medal in Management (2nd highest GPA in the graduating class), as well as at work, winning a BDO Canada Platinum award for his work on a benchmarking project for farmers.
“It feels great for your hard work to pay off and be recognized. It is also rewarding when your work makes an impact on the people around you,” he noted.
As a successful CFE writer, Peters has some tips for future writers.
“The biggest thing is that you understand that everyone is in the same boat. It’s a stressful time, but just give it your best shot and trust that your hard work is going to pay off,” explained Peters. “I also think it’s important to find a good study buddy who understands what you are going through and can talk it over with you. In the end, you just have to prioritize and manage your time efficiently.”
Evan Pollard, CFE Honour Roll Recipient
For Evan Pollard, the goal of becoming a CPA ran in the family.
“It was always on my radar and I knew a decent amount about it because my brother joined the CPA program a year before me and my dad was a CPA, CA,” said Pollard.
Pollard’s path to becoming a CPA started at the University of Manitoba where he double majored in finance and accounting. He wasn’t sure which path to follow, but the family ties and positive impression of the designation solidified his decision.
“I really like how widely applicable and useful the designation is. The CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) helps you grow as a well-rounded business professional. Ultimately, you can end up in all kinds of different roles and that's what made me interested in pursuing the CPA designation,” explained Pollard.
During his university studies, he worked for Deloitte and once he graduated, they offered him a full-time job as Staff Accountant while he pursed his designation.
“It’s hard sometimes trying to balance working full-time and studying after work, but I was pretty shocked at how quickly it all went. When you are starting out it feels like the Common Final Exam (CFE) is far away, but next thing you know you are preparing and getting ready to write it. The program flies by,” said Pollard.
After writing the CFE, Pollard received a call notifying him that he had passed the exam and made it onto the honour roll.
“The CFE tests your stamina as well as your knowledge and I was relieved when I finished. The honour roll came as a big shock because I was just hoping to do well enough to complete it successfully. I still remember that call. I was at my desk and my cellphone was ringing. I looked at the display and it was an unknown number from CPA Manitoba, and I sprinted into an empty office to take the call. That was a fantastic moment.”
Pollard has also been recognized for his academic ability at the University of Manitoba. He was awarded the Lawrence Tapper Prize in Accounting, CPA – Robert Syme Memorial Scholarship and won second place in the JDC West Business Competition.
And as a successful CFE writer, what kind of advice would he have for next year’s writers?
“The biggest thing is consistency. I started studying a couple months before the exam date and not every day is going to go well. Even if you don’t feel like you are making progress, you probably are. It’s all about showing up and putting
in the work,” said Pollard. “At the same time, it’s also important to not burn yourself out because it is a long process and your mental health is a big priority as well. I’d also recommend finding a good support network of
people who are also writing the CFE so you can study together and bounce ideas off each other. Lastly, always make sure to study somewhere that has good coffee. Thanks Folio Café and Stella’s on Portage!”