If you want to succeed as a Certified General Accountant, it helps to have a head for numbers.
But if you want to find work at CGA Manitoba — the self-regulatory body responsible for 2,000 CGAs and almost as many students in this province — there are other avenues open besides a straight business background.
For proof, look no further than the above trio of Red River College grads, who followed divergent career paths on their way to the Donald Street employer: Bruce Granke (Business Administration, 1982), Director, Professional Regulations; Marni Russell (Business/Technology Teacher Education, 1999), Manager, Communications; and Zachary Minuk (Creative Communications, 2008), Coordinator of Marketing and Communications.
Of the three, Granke was the first to pass through RRC’s doors, having seen the College’s Business Admin stream as a good gateway to the CGA program.
“I thought for me it was going to be a terrific learning environment, and I thought from an educational point of view it would be a very hands-on, practical education,” says Granke, whose roles in professional regulations — and communications and recruitment — help ensure the CGA Association’s membership is properly qualified, and held to a code of professional, academic and moral standards.
Granke worked in the private sector after graduating, and says he benefitted as a student from the program’s Entrepreneurship Project, in which teams spend nine months building a model company from the ground up.
“It was a great example that I found out afterwards was a very realistic exercise,” says Granke, noting some of the companies that arose from the project are still in existence. “Those are the types of skills and tools that were a huge help to me going into the workforce and into the CGA program.”
Russell, on the other hand, always dreamed of being a business teacher, but lacked the confidence right out of high school to teach people her own age. She instead earned a BA in Administrative Studies, then spent years working in project management in the private sector before enrolling in RRC’s Business Teacher Ed. program.
She followed that up with a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Winnipeg, all the while volunteering with international students and teaching English as a Second Language classes.
“That’s really my niche as a business teacher” says Russell, who since 2005 has worked with Manitoba Labour and Immigration on developing and teaching a preparatory course for CGA’s Business Communications class.
“I’ve taught plenty of Canadian students, but my favourite courses over the years have been teaching newcomers … It stems from learning about other cultures — that’s really my passion.”
In addition to the prep course, Russell also works in the CGA Manitoba office, helping newcomers transition into the program by assessing language proficiency and conducting seminars on professional practice. She recalls being inspired by former instructor Cindee Laverge, now the Dean of Student Services at RRC, and a mentor for Russell since her time at the College.
“In our first week of classes, she passed me an accounting textbook — which I had never read before — and said, ‘You have 20 minutes to read this chapter, then get up and teach it,’” she recalls. “It was really intense — you had to figure things out fast.”
Also used to thinking on his feet? Minuk, who came to RRC in 2006 to improve on the earning potential of his Arts degree. Like all CreComm grads, he’s well-versed in a wide range of media and marketing strategies, a product of the program’s quick pace and immersive culture.
An Advertising major, Minuk says he even conquered his stage fright through the program’s stand-up comedy elective; the increased self-confidence comes in handy when he’s called on to provide new perspectives on marketing and branding.
“We’re marketing an intangible product — the CGA program, this idea of being able to build yourself a successful life. It’s not like we’re marketing a cup of coffee,” he says. “I look at that as a positive. ‘OK, so you don’t have a tangible product, so let’s create that vision in somebody’s head.’ And the fact that I don’t come from an accounting background allows me to look at it from an outsider’s perspective.”
“The nice thing for me is this accounting body has given me the room to play that I needed, and allowed me to harness some of that creativity.”
All three grads are still regular presences at RRC campuses: Granke continues to serve as a judge in the Business Admin. Entrepreneurship project, while Russell and Minuk are often here in development, promotion and recruiting capacities.
“(RRC) students coming into our program do well — they have that hands-on experience,” says Granke. “Accounting is a very technical profession, especially in the early stages, and I think there’s a really good connection between that hands-on experience and knowledge from Red River College, and being able to transition into the CGA program.”
Click here for more information about the Business Administration program at RRC, here for more about Business/Technology Teacher Education, and here for more information about Creative Communications.
Click here for more information about CGA Manitoba.