Archibald's career as a CPA has presented her with a diverse and always-evolving professional experience—one that has certainly been a very pleasant surprise

The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is Canada’s pre-eminent accounting and business credential. Anyone considering joining the world of business or finance will find the CPA designation opens doors and enhances their career prospects.

Jennifer Archibald, CPA, CA, is Cardiome’s chief financial officer, with responsibility for overseeing financial operations. She joined Cardiome in 2006 and served as Cardiome’s director of finance until her appointment as chief financial officer in 2012. Archibald has extensive accounting and finance experience, dealing with the complexities of both public and private corporations.

Prior to joining Cardiome, Archibald managed the accounting operations at the corporate office of The Jim Pattison Group. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and earned a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia.

Why did you pursue a CPA designation?
For the job opportunities and career paths the designation would make available to me.

How do you apply it in your day-to-day role?
The general business knowledge I gained from my training helps me with managing many aspects of our business. From a technical perspective, my audit, accounting, finance and tax training provides me with the educational foundation to manage the work and decisions related to those areas.

How has the CPA designation helped your career overall?
It has opened doors for me. From my first job in audit to all the other positions that I was fortunate enough to have been offered, I believe the designation was paramount to those employers' hiring decisions. It represents a certain level of education and business training that many employers want in finance related roles.

How have you been able to demonstrate your leadership skills?
I have been involved in setting and executing the strategic direction of the company. I helped build a commercial infrastructure internationally and played a key role in the acquisition of a European Specialty Pharmaceutical company many times the size of Cardiome. I also built and lead the following functions: finance, human resources, administration and IT.

What is a typical workday or work week like for you?
I spend most of my workday in meetings, on phone calls and emailing whether I am at the office, on the road, or in a foreign country while travelling for business. I spend a lot of time managing the business, which involves reviewing and signing legal documents and agreements, managing people, dealing with internal or external issues and negotiating with third parties. A big part of my role is also to market the company to various external parties and stakeholders through meetings, phone calls and presentations.

What has surprised you about the role of a CPA?
In my current role, I am involved in many aspects of the business beyond accounting such as finance, business development, investor relations, human resources and information technology—all focused towards setting and executing the strategic direction of the company. When I think back to what I envisioned the role of a CPA would be before receiving my designation, I don’t think I expected such a broad set of responsibilities.

What do you love about your job?
I love that my work is diverse and challenging. Managing an entrepreneurial, fast-paced, high-growth international business is no walk in the park, but that's what I love about it.

Any advice to someone considering a CPA designation?
Do your research into the many doors this designation could open up for you. Talk to as many people as you can who can speak to how it has impacted their careers. Do research on yourself. You need to know who you are and what makes you want to get up in the morning in order to make a proper assessment of your career choices. Fit is critical to finding a career you will love.
Photo courtesy of Rob Kruyt.