The Women in Mathematics committee stands in solidarity with those experiencing racism and joins the call for actions to end systemic racism worldwide and in our own community. We are committed to support the University of Waterloo's immediate actions to create positive changes. You can find more information about the immediate and developing actions in this regard on the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (HREI) website.

Brenda Lee Gibson

Former Director of Finance, Yahoo! Canada

Yahoo! Canada logo.

Exterior of Yahoo! building.

Professional & academic achievements:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) 2002
  • Chartered Accountant (CA) 1995
  • Recipient of Ernst & Young's award for high performance
  • Bachelor of Mathematics, C.A. Option, Cooperative Honours Degree 1994
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Distinction Standing for academic excellence
  • Elected Valedictorian for Mathematics Faculty Graduating Class

Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for maintaining financial accountants and records for the company
  • Track revenue for the company and issue monthly invoices to our customers for advertisements displayed on our website
  • Collect cash from customers
  • Track expenses incurred by the company and issue payments to employees for salaries and payments to vendors for their services
  • Monitor cash collected, cash paid and prepare forecasts of our cash position in the future
  • Identify opportunities and communicate suggestions to make things run simpler, better, more efficiently and more cost effectively
  • Implement IT systems to automate processes - for example, launched a tool called "iExpense" for employees to prepare and submit their expense reports for expenses paid - allows it all to be done "paperless" including all manager approvals
  • Calculate if actual spending levels are over or under budget and report findings to management team
  • Create and maintain a strong internal control environment to prevent errors and any fraudulent activity - for example - set policies to determine what employees can approve transactions, sign cheques
  • Provide financial analysis support business decisions - for example - should we lease or buy computer equipment
  • Prepare income tax returns and file with the government each year to calculate the income taxes that we owe an any profits that we earn
  • Train and develop team members - provide them with regular feedback

Professional & academic achievements

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) 2002
  • Chartered Accountant (CA) 1995

As an inspiring leader, we asked Brenda a few questions about her time at Waterloo, career and advice for the next generation of women looking to follow in her footsteps.

Why did you choose Waterloo and the Faculty of Mathematics?

I had an early love of math. I enjoyed the ability to “deduce/prove” things with logic skills without a need to memorize a lot of information. I also wanted a program that would allow me to study math without having to do a B.Arts or B.Science as I didn’t want to study science or write essays at the university level. The Bachelor of Math degree was very unique certainly at that time. The co-op program was also a draw.

How did Waterloo help you prepare for your career?

I gained confidence by surviving the rigors of the program at Waterloo.  I’ve always been proud to tell people that I studied math at Waterloo. The co-op program also allowed me to get an early taste of accounting and exposure to lots of CAs (Chartered Accountants) who shared their experiences and expertise with me.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done professionally since leaving Waterloo?

While I was working at Ernst and Young (Professional Accounting firm) in Palo Alto, California, I was involved in their “Entrepreneur of the Year program” and got to meet and participate in the interview of Larry Page and Sergey Brin – the 2 founders of Google, Inc. (2003).  I was also the audit manager on the Google account when it went public in 2004.

What do you consider to be the most useful piece of career advice you ever received?

I have a few. Work hard, be curious and ask questions. Deliver a high quality product but don’t aim for perfection, it will slow you down too much! Seek out feedback and be receptive to it. Double down on your areas of strength, don’t get overwhelmed with areas of weakness, we all have them and it’s good to know them.

What would you tell other young women choosing to study math or computer science at Waterloo?

Go for it!  You will find lots of other like-minded people in your program who enjoy similar studies and challenges and make life-long friends.  You will also develop your problem-solving skills that will help you in many ways.
 

 

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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