Samantha Kan on the CFE and SAF

Samantha KanIn September 2019, over 6,000 candidates passed the Common Final Examination (CFE), moving them towards their profession as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). The CFE Honour Roll consists of the top one per cent of successful CFE writers. Out of the 28 Ontario Honour Roll members, 15 of them were School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) graduates. We had a chance to sit down with Samantha Kan (MAcc ’19, Internal Auditor for CIBC) to ask her about her CFE experience, and how SAF helped her make it onto the honour roll.

How has your SAF program prepared you for the CFE and professional success?

I definitely found that completing a bachelor's degree in Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) and a Master of Accounting (MAcc) really prepared me not only for the CFE and CPA designation but also for my career.

For example, the AFM co-op program allowed me to build my work experience and prepared me for the transition from school to work. The courses also provided the core knowledge and skills upon which the CPA designation and related professions require. The MAcc program specifically was essential for preparation towards CFE. The coursework had a strong focus on cases and the CPA competencies, and would usually include professional feedback on case exams. The program environment, with supportive professors and fellow classmates all working towards the same goal, was also very helpful for CFE preparation.

In your opinion, how do you think your cumulative experiences within your SAF program (academic, extra/co-curricular, co-op, etc.) attributed to your CFE and career success?

There were a variety of opportunities within SAF to build technical and durable skills (soft skills), as well as to work towards professional growth. The courses included a broad range of subjects outside of just accounting and finance, including business law, ethics, performance management, and leadership. The co-op aspect of the program let me apply course knowledge towards work in a professional environment, and my multiple co-op terms let me experience different potential careers. By participating in extra-curricular activities both in SAF and outside, I become involved in the university community, built out my network and developed durable skills like communication, teamwork, and leadership. Altogether, I felt that SAF was always supportive of not only my academic growth but also my professional growth.

How has being named to the CFE Honour Roll changed your career path or goals?

I feel that it reassures me that I am on the right path towards the CPA designation and a career that complements it.

What tips or pointers can you offer to current SAF students?

  • Get involved with extra-curriculars outside SAF to get more involved in the university community
  • Use your co-ops to try different career areas - no other chance to try a job for four months
  • Try not to get caught up comparing yourself to others in the program —everyone has successes and failures (they just might not be talked about)
  • Go to office hours if you have any questions - professors are always open to help and talk you through a problem
  • Use your electives to try out new subjects of interest
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