The 2021 Women in Accounting and Finance: Global Summit

Thursday, November 4, 2021

by Simran Khera

The Women in Accounting and Finance: Global Summit is an event that celebrates our female leaders and showcases their accomplishments in the field of accounting and finance. This year, though virtual, was a great opportunity to hear the unique and empowering stories of the panelists from around the globe.

Carol Leaman (MAcc ’89) is currently the CEO of Axonify, but before that, she spent five to six years at the beginning of her career doing merger and acquisition work and was the CEO of four other companies. In her experience as a CEO, she learned that the foundation she gained through her accounting and finance education was the bedrock to all the things she needed to know to run and sell a business. As the first female leader in the tech field in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, Carol knew that it was only a matter of time before more women would be appointed into leadership positions in tech companies. One of my main takeaways from Carol is that imposter syndrome, which is when you are doubting your abilities, is normal and is part of the growth in your career. As someone who is new to the job market or even has been part of it for years, you don’t need to know everything since there are people in other roles who may have more information. 

Carmen Chung (MAcc ’10) is the Managing Director, Head of Finance and Business Advisory at Manulife. She has worked in Toronto, New York, and is now located in Hong Kong. While trying to find out where her passions lie in finance, she worked in multiple traditional finance roles but found that they were repetitive and were not her desired path. Carmen also mentioned that all the skills and concepts that she had learned from school and the industry experience that she gained through co-op work terms were useful in this role. The advice that Carmen had given that stuck with me is to keep building relationships and connections, as you never know where an opportunity may come from.

Julia Klann (MAcc ’05) is a partner, Eastern Canada Leader, with Grant Thornton with main accountabilities that focus on US corporate tax. One of her favourite things about working with corporate tax is that it is like a challenging puzzle as every day is different from the last. As a mom, having a flexible schedule is important to Julia, and being part of a public accounting firm offers that, as she can plan her work day around her life and not the other way around. One of the many lessons that I have learned from Julia has been to not say no to opportunities when they present themselves. You might not be ready to say yes but saying yes will allow for learning and opening different doors that may have not been opened otherwise.

Being able to hear the stories of the panelists have made me proud to be a University of Waterloo student, knowing that as a student there are many female leaders in the accounting and finance fields that I, along with other students, can look up to and gain knowledge and learn from. As a woman, seeing other women in these professional positions has been inspiring to know that there is a place for me in male-dominated fields.