Alumni stories

Professor Cody Buchenauer (CPA, CA, MAcc ’14) is a School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) alum with a remarkable career journey. From a student navigating through co-op terms to an industry professional holding a role as senior manager at EY, Buchenauer is now a full-time faculty member as well as a member of SAF’s co-op and experiential learning team. Bridging academia and industry to guide current students’ career paths as a passionate educator, his journey is a testament to the impact of the co-op experience offered at SAF.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Andres Perez-Vilarino (MAcc ’19) to discuss his career post-graduation, and to learn how he has leveraged his education and passions to help inform his role.

Currently, Ho works as an associate in private equity at Brookfield Asset Management and he attributes the start of building his investor mindset to his experience at the University of Waterloo with the Student Investment Fund (SIF). SIF gave him and other SAF students the unique opportunity to invest with real money and get hands-on-training in equity valuation and portfolio management with guidance from industry experts and faculty mentors. This taught him about value investing that he then applied to his co-op role as private equity analyst at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and when competing in the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

On a bright sunny day at the TD Centre in Toronto, professor Adam Vitalis interviewed four SAF alums about their careers in the internal audit field. Internal audit is a critical component of effective corporate governance and risk management and plays an important role in helping organizations achieve their objectives while safeguarding their assets and reputation.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Laura Fong (MAcc '20) to chat about her career since graduation and her path to pursuing a career in tax. Fong, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) graduate, worked with Deloitte for all her co-op terms as a student. With the support and encouragement of her colleagues, she has happily stayed at Deloitte post-graduation. She continues to thrive in this positive environment as she grows her skills to become a great tax practitioner.

The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Alba Navarro (MAcc '21) to discuss her career since graduation and the gap in support for 2SLGBTQIA+ students that she experienced in university.

Alba, a Master of Accounting graduate, is energized by the work that she does as a Consultant in Deloitte Canada’s Finance and Performance team. Alba helps companies bridge technology-enabled transformation with leading practice business processes for their finance functions.

Monday, February 6, 2023

It was written in the stars

This Valentine’s Day, we are sharing the story of Candy and Francis Lanois (MAcc '12), two graduates of the Master of Accounting program who may not agree on the story of their first date but agree that they saw something special in one another from the start. After fatefully meeting in their fourth year of studies, their love was sparked with romantic star gazing dates in St. Jacobs, and many bubble tea and ice cream outings. Now happily married, their advice is to never stop dating.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Twins by chance, classmates by choice

Sisters Stephanie Nguyen and Jessica Nguyen celebrate graduating from the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program and passing the CPA Common Final Examination (CFE) together. During their time at the University of Waterloo they had in each other a built-in best friend, study partner and cheerleader.

Susan Uthayakumar is the chief energy and sustainability officer at Prologis. She is responsible for evaluating and scaling both existing and emerging energy solutions across the Prologis platform and for ensuring that Prologis continues to be the leader in sustainability in the logistic real estate industry.

Matthew Roman is a partner at KPMG LPP, serving as a trusted business advisor to privately owned businesses in the Region of Waterloo. Within KPMG, Matthew is the National Tax Learning & Development Leader. He and his team contribute to the creation and delivery of internal resources to improve the technical and professional skills of KPMG tax professionals. He is a recipient of the CPA Canada Gold Medal for achieving the highest standing in Ontario on the Common Final Examination (CFE) of the CPA Profession.

Philip Mayers (MAcc '86) brings over 25 years of finance and general management experience in financial services businesses to his role as senior vice president and chief financial officer at Sagen - Canada's largest private default mortgage insurance provider.  The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Mayers to discuss his career, the importance of building confidence and competence to make financial decisions for a healthy financial future and why it’s important to him to give back to Waterloo and SAF.

Jacqueline Sue and fellow 2019 Master of Accounting (MAcc) graduate, Jasper Lam are both working in social-focused organizations. In building their careers, both attribute the co- and extra-curricular opportunities they’ve had in leading them into careers with an objective to solve social problems and provide social benefits. The School of Accounting and Finance caught up with Jacqueline and Jasper to learn more about their experiences and their motivations to do good for their community, Canada, and potentially the world.

Young alum Annu Puri (MAcc ’19), attributes his current success to Waterloo’s entrepreneurial spirit and the experiences and mentors he’s had throughout his academic career. Calling Waterloo Region home, Puri returned to the University to see how it has changed across campus, chat about his career path, and highlight his passion project, &Vision, with the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF).

Erica La’s (MAcc ’10, CPA) career journey started quite traditionally from an accounting perspective. As an Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) student, La completed her co-op work terms and began her career after graduation with PwC. After exploring and taking on diverse roles within audit, La left PwC as a senior associate, to work for Borealis Infrastructure, now known as OMERS Infrastructure. La’s next career move brought her to RealStar, a past audit client from

Sheilaah Guthrie, associate director of advancement at the School of Accounting and Finance had the chance to sit down with alum Lana Paton (BMath ’93) whose generous donation established the Lana Paton Women in Finance Scholarship in 2020. Lana is vice-chair and managing partner of the Greater Toronto Area and South Western Ontario Region at PwC Canada and a member of their Extended Leadership Team. The Lana Paton Women in Finance Scholarship was created to encourage and support aspiring undergraduate women to strive for leadership roles. Historically, leadership roles in the finance industry have been dominated by men. The School hopes the scholarship will act as encouragement to bridge the gender gap in leadership roles within finance, accounting, and business in general. Amazingly, Lana’s scholarship has already inspired other alumni to establish similar undergraduate scholarships that will further break down gender disparity and inclusivity barriers. 

Seasoned entrepreneur Ian Weng (MAcc ’13) began his career at KPMG in audit and advisory services after graduating from the Master of Accounting program. While at KPMG he gained a breadth of knowledge and obtained his CPA, CA designation. Like many University of Waterloo alums, however, he caught the entrepreneurship bug and wanted to create something⁠—so he ended up leaving KPMG to start his first tech startup called ChopChop.

SAF congratulates alum, Vanna Krantz, as she leads Grindr as their new CFO.

Grindr LLC named a former Walt Disney Co. executive as its next chief financial officer as the firm behind the dating app plans to go public through a combination with a special-purpose acquisition company later this year.

In 2021, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) presented the Young Alumni Award to Nilofer Ahmed, who completed her Master of Accounting degree in 2012. Ahmed’s career has merged a foundation in accounting and finance with an education in business and entrepreneurship, along with her passion for food in her current position as senior director of business and consumer strategy at Motif FoodWorks.

Each year, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) recognizes and acknowledges our distinguished alumni for the positive impact they have made on the profession, the School and the community. The 2021 School of Accounting and Finance Alumni Achievement Award recipient is Benjie Thomas, who studied in the BA/Chartered Accountancy program and graduated in 1998.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Like Father, Like Sons

Ahead of Father’s Day on June 19, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is telling the story of a family that shares a strong bond with UWaterloo. Ashi Mathur (MAcc ’93), now president of Marlin Spring began his career studying in the School of Accounting and Finance, and now, his sons Deven and Neel are enrolled in the AFM program and are expected to graduate in 2023 and 2025.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Following in her footsteps

Ahead of Mother’s Day on May 8, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is sharing the story of a mother and son who graduated from the same university and program, 28 years apart. When Winnie Leung graduated from the MAcc program in 1993, the top song on the radio was I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, and in 2021, when her son Aaron Leung graduated, the top song on Spotify was Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo. Music, fashion, and technology changed during that time, but the value of a SAF degree remained constant.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

A Lifetime Mentor in the Making

Established in 2003, the SAF Fellowship Program has proven to be a game-changer for all parties involved. The program invites SAF alumni and students to participate in a rewarding four-year relationship to develop future leaders. Selected AFM and SFM students are provided with opportunities for professional development, relevant work experience, and the added benefit of financial support.

When Pratik Shah (MAcc ’09) came across the CFO role for the neo-biotech company Cyclica on a MaRS job board, it took him right back to his undergrad at the University of Waterloo. As a Biotech/CPA student, his long-term career goal was to work for high-growth startups making a social impact. Better yet, Shah wanted to leverage his scientific background, which aligned well with Cyclica’s bold mission to build the biotech pipeline of the future.

Waterloo alum, Carmen Chung (MAcc ’10, CPA – Hong Kong, Illinois, Ontario) leveraged the international exposure she’s gained from having worked in Toronto, New York and Hong Kong to build a career that has led to an exciting and unique career in investments, accounting, finance, and beyond. The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with Chung to learn more about her career vision and how she’s navigated a dynamic global journey.

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.

Like International Women’s Day, the Women in Accounting and Finance Global Summit events serve to inspire current students and young alums in amplifying the importance of female leadership and perspectives in business. The 2021 Global Summit event for the Women in Accounting & Finance panel discussion brought together three School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) alums to share their career stories and answer questions from event attendees.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, calling people to imagine a gender-equal world free of stereotypes, bias and discrimination. This is also a day to recognize and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It doesn’t take long to realize that for alum, Jonathan Yu (MAcc ’07, CPA), people and talent are the most important assets for his work with RBC. The innovative nature and authentic work in equity, diversity and inclusion at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) have made the last 12 years for Yu exciting and fresh. Yu returned to the Waterloo campus to chat with SAF about his career path and passion for helping RBC further its diversity and inclusion goals.

The American Taxation Association (ATA), in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers, presented recent PhD graduate, Betty (Bin) Xing (BMath ’13, MTax ’15, PhD ’20), with the prestigious international ATA/PwC Outstanding Dissertation Award at the annual ATA mid-year meeting.

Every year we like to celebrate Valentine’s Day by sharing the stories of SAF alums that met and fell in love on the University of Waterloo campus. This year we are happy to share the story of two graduates of the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program whose love story began at a drama club audition of all places. Now, they are happily married and have two wonderful children. Read how Sarah Cheng (MAcc ’09), Founder of BLUISH, a venture not only known for selling tulle for women, moms and babies but also providing a platform for women to share stories of strength, resilience and growth., and Brian Cheng’s (MAcc ’09), a Partner at MNP, love story grew, like compound interest  if the interview took place in person, we have no doubt that they would have finished each other’s sentences.

After Michael Leung (MAcc ’07) attained his CA designation in 2009, he returned to Hong Kong to pursue a career in finance. This was during the turbulent financial crisis, and it got Leung thinking about how he should develop a career in his true interests. Since he always had an interest in law, he began studying for his first law degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2012 on a part-time basis, and then once he began his Masters of Laws (L.L.M.) in Harvard Law School, he soon realized it was his natural calling.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Leveraging the language of business

As a Mathematics/Chartered Professional Accountancy student, Nitish Sharma (BMath '14) was part of the second team that led the development of the hEDGE Financial Services Conference. Hosted annually in the heart of Toronto's financial district, hEDGE offers University of Waterloo students a comprehensive look into both sell-side and buy-side finance through six pillars of capital markets: asset management, equity and debt research, investment banking, private equity, sales and trading, and venture capital. The brainchild of School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) students, the conference’s goal is to showcase the impressive finance talent that is present at SAF and to inform students about recruitment and networking opportunities. What is particularly inspiring about the large and successful conference is that it continues to be completely student-run to this day.

Two senior executives of Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, are finalists for the WeQual Awards for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 2021 in the "Business Development" and "People and Culture" categories.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Why SFM?

Pamela Steer, (MAcc ’94, FCPA, FCA, CFA) is a bilingual transformative executive and experienced corporate director with more than 20 years of experience in the technology and financial services industries. Pamela was honoured in 2019 as Canada’s CFO of the Year and named the School of Accounting and Finance’s Alumni Achievement Award Recipient in 2020.

Even during his time at the School of Accounting and Finance when studying in the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program, Langill was drawn to complex problems that needed solving. This curiosity and tenacity led Langill to build an impressive career in the financial services industry.

Oni Prisecaru, (MAcc ’16, CPA, CA) is one of a few co-op students who completed their co-op work terms and launched their careers with the same employer. Hired by Deloitte in their Audit Practice as a Junior Associate for his first co-op work term, Oni leveraged his accounting skills and knowledge and quickly became interested in the finance side of Deloitte’s business. As the Executive Director of the M&A Advisory team within Deloitte’s Corporate Finance area, Oni attributes his success to maintaining his intrinsic values, being open and coachable as a manager, and always seeking learning opportunities.

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.

As the world begins to transition back to business as usual, it is more important than ever to provide forums, such as the Women in Accounting and Finance events to serve as inspiration to current students and young alums in amplifying the importance of female leadership and perspectives in business. The 2021 Global Summit event for the Women in Accounting & Finance panel discussion brought together three School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) alums to share their career stories and answer questions from event attendees.

Julia Klann (MAcc ’05) is one of the lucky few who knew exactly what they wanted to do after graduating from university. From her co-op experience at Big 4 accounting firms, she developed an affinity for working in tax early on – Canadian tax that is. It was when she was searching for her final co-op work term that she came across a role focused on U.S. tax – a realm she wasn’t as familiar with. She made the leap, and from that moment on fell in love with U.S. tax and never looked back. 

For Carol Leaman (MAcc ’89, CPA), the solid foundation in accounting from the University of Waterloo led her toward a winding, yet interesting and life changing career path of founding early-stage technology companies and leading them through to acquisition…four times over. From the wild rides of founding to the sale of the tech companies she’s led, Leaman has remained humble with the firm belief of creating an environment and culture that empowers everyone with knowledge, transparency, and honesty. Her latest start-up, Axonify, is a demonstration of Leaman exemplifying these qualities through her leadership which has translated into multiple years of recognition for Axonify as one of the best workplaces in Canada. Axonify was acquired last April by an American private equity firm to which Leaman has remained in the leadership role to take her passion project to the next stage of growth.

Globally, 2020 has been a year of unanticipated decision-making as organizations pivoted to ensure business success, often with very tight timelines. With the common theme of the global pandemic as the driving force of these strategies, the School of Accounting and Finance leveraged its annual Women In Accounting and Finance event to invite five SAF alumni from across the globe to share their stories and insights in managing and pivoting their teams, organizations, and personal lives through the global pandemic.

‘Using a combination of speech recognition technologies and natural language processing technology, it’s able to communicate with the guests regardless of dialect, accent or what their order is.’

As the world slowly transitions back to in-person office environments, the newly appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Sun Life, Manjit Singh, (BA ’93, CPA, CFA), is excited to implement digital and people focused strategies to lead Sun Life beyond the global pandemic. The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with the Waterloo alum to learn more about his career and where he sees the future of the financial services industry.

As the President and CEO of Sun Life, Kevin Strain (MAcc ‘90) brings close to thirty years of insurance industry experience to his new role. Strain spent much of those years with Sun Life in various finance and business roles to advance his career to eventually assume the responsibility of Sun Life’s leadership. The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) caught up with the very busy President and CEO to chat about his career, how he hopes to lead Sun Life beyond the global pandemic, and why he chooses to give back to Waterloo to help build future talent.