President & CEO of CPA Manitoba
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.
Some might say that Geeta Tucker, FCPA, FCMA was born to be a professional accountant. After moving with her family to Montreal, Quebec at age six, her parents could see the signs. “I remember that I would take inventories of my toys to stay organized. I guess that was more fun than actually playing with them,” Tucker says with a laugh.
“I kept records of all kinds of transactions and one of my favorite things to do was act as the banker in a family game of Monopoly. My parents looked at all that and told me I’d really like accounting,’” she recalls.
Their instincts were correct. Tucker graduated from high school with the goal of becoming an accountant. She completed CEGEP (a French acronym for Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel) – which is step between secondary school and university, unique to the province of Quebec. Afterwards, she moved 650 kilometres west to attend the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
“I always intended to go back to Montreal and start my career, but I met my husband, Mike, in school and we decided to stay in Ontario. After graduating with a Bachelor of Mathematics with a major in Accounting, I got a job at Nortel and we moved to Mississauga where they were headquartered,” Tucker explains.
At the same time, she was working towards attaining the CMA designation. “I liked to solve problems. I enjoyed reporting, forecasting and variance analysis. It was a really rewarding time. I remember being so proud when I obtained my designation in 1997. My parents saved my childhood scrapbooks where I wrote, with my little kid writing, that I wanted to be an accountant and so it really was the realization of a lifelong dream,” Tucker recalls.
That same year, Nortel relocated the couple to Calgary, a city neither of them had considered before. “In the Nortel world, when you went to Calgary the idea was to spend a few years there learning an area of the business before moving back to Ontario. We didn’t do that. We enjoyed the city so much that we stayed. I took up hiking, skiing and enjoyed the mountains.”
The couple decided that the city would be a great place to raise a family and around the turn of the century they had two children. First came Kevin and daughter Alix followed a few years later.
In 2004, Tucker was looking for a new adventure and found it at Shaw Communications. “I was working there for about 12 months when I got a call about an opportunity at Agriteam Canada,” she explains.
Although it was like nothing she had considered before, it sounded exciting.
“It was a big departure from what I had experienced in my career up to that point. I’d always worked for big corporations with large accounting teams. This was the opposite. When you work for a small company, you don’t even really have a job description, you just see what needs doing and go for it.”
Agriteam Canada has grown to have offices in over 12 countries around the world. They’re a for-profit consulting company that works in international development, specializing in implementing Canada’s aid program abroad. Initially, Tucker was hired as the company’s controller but went on to be named Chief Financial Officer.
In her role as CFO, Tucker was responsible for all the financial operations of the company. “It was a very multifaceted role. I would ensure the field offices had enough cash to fund all activities we were planning. I was also responsible for ensuring the company could hire employees and legally operate within the developing nations we were doing business in,” Tucker explains. No easy task considering many of the countries lacked the formalized and established processes we take for granted in Canada.
Tucker also designed compensation packages for employees living in Canada and abroad, as well as trained local staff in the countries Agriteam operated in.
“I got to work with an office or finance manager in countries like Tanzania or Vietnam and exchange experiences on what it’s like to be an accountant. Those were absolutely fascinating experiences.”
Throughout her career, Tucker has remained committed to the accounting profession, volunteering in various roles over the years. “At first, it was a great way to meet other accountants when we moved to Calgary, but it quickly became a passion. I’ve been so fortunate for the opportunities I’ve had.”
Before the merger of the accounting bodies, she took on the role of chapter chair before being elected to CMA Alberta’s Board of Directors as a member at large. She went on to lead the audit committee and governance committee before serving as Chair of CMA Alberta in 2008. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to provide leadership to the profession, but I also found other roles just as rewarding. After my time as chair, I spent a few years as a marker of CMA modules and took on the role of ambassador, speaking to high school and post-secondary students about the benefits of becoming a designated accountant,” she explains.
In 2017, Tucker was elected to the CPA Alberta Board of Directors – a role she held until accepting the role with CPA Manitoba.
“All the volunteer work I’ve done really helped me decide that the role of President and CEO would be a great fit. Those experiences were so enjoyable and when looking back, they were some of the most important work of my career.”
Despite her extensive experience serving the profession, one thing she admits will be new to her is life in Manitoba. “I visited the province once as a kid,” she says with a laugh, before adding “and the second time was interviewing for the job. I am looking forward to getting to know my new home in Winnipeg, meeting new people and exploring the province and all the great communities that our members, live, work and thrive in.”
Tucker has many career highlights, including helping to set up a vocational training centre in Vietnam, being named one of Calgary’s top 40 under 40 and being recognized by her peers and the profession as a Fellow, but she insists the best is yet to come.
“We have the greatest profession. We can truly work in any industry. Our designation is so portable and that opens so many doors and opportunities all over the world. The financial aspect of running a business is very important and that positions us as leaders and trusted advisors,” she says.
As for what she’s most looking forward to when as she starts her new role, “I get such a charge from meeting members and learning about what they’ve done with their designation. I’m eager to get to know members across the province as well as continue the great work that has been done so far at CPA Manitoba. CPAs make a big impact on the strength and prosperity of our communities and being able to support their important work while providing leadership to the profession is exciting. I can’t wait!”
Geeta Tucker, FCPA, FCMA was appointed President and CEO of CPA Manitoba by its Board of Directors effective April 23, 2019. A press release was sent on March 18, 2019. Connect with her on LinkedIn.