Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Building on a Major-League Resource

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Building on a Major-League Resource

Article excerpt

SMAC'S 1997-98 chair is Derrick Sturge, B. Comm., MBA, CA, CMA, FCMA, chief financial officer of Voisey's Bay Nickel Company Limited, St. John's, Newfoundland. The major challenges he sees for the Society: accelerating employer awareness and understanding of the CMA skill set and expanding the Society's international influence.

Derrick Sturge's CFO role has to be one of the most exciting and challenging in Canada: helping to bring one of the world's largest nickel/copper/cobalt deposits on stream at Voisey's Bay, Labrador. From a mine and mill there, ocean freighters will carry nickel concentrate to a smelter and refinery at Argentia, Newfoundland. The Argentia facility will also be gargantuan - the largest (and most environmentally friendly) smelter/refinery complex in the western world. Inco Limited's acquisition of Voisey's Bay Nickel Company Limited and the construction of facilities will represent an investment of over $6 billion. Operations are expected to be up and running by the year 2000. They will create about 3,500 direct and indirect long-term jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, and, when fully on stream, will have the capacity to supply about 13 per cent of the world's current nickel demand.

While exploration continues, there is no mining or even preliminary construction yet at Voisey's Bay. The project is so huge, the required infrastructure so vast, and the planning so complex (involving a multi-year environmental studies program and negotiation of impact and benefits agreements with aboriginal groups), that getting all the ducks in a row calls for a management team with the wisdom of Solomon, the energy of Helios the Sun God, and the financial management skills of... well, a CMA.

When Derrick joined Voisey's Bay Nickel Company Limited in 1996, he began playing a major role in a development that will significantly expand Newfoundland and Labrador's economic base. Taking on financial management responsibilities for this enormous greenfield operation was not only a rare opportunity but also an excellent fit with his experience and professional capabilities as a CMA.

In his CFO role, Derrick is responsible for the entire finance function including financial reporting, management accounting systems, treasury, taxation, financial planning and information technology. One major challenge: incorporating leading-edge use of information technology and management accounting practices to integrate operations and financial systems. The VBN finance team includes a number of other CMAs in this developmental work.

Derrick assumes the position of national CMA chair at a time when the Society itself is ripe with potential for significant new development - development that is needed in a highly competitive professional marketplace.

"Our profession has solidly staked out its turf," notes Derrick, "and of course we're not talking about an overnight success. We're where we are because of the painstaking work of thousands of people - both volunteers and staff - who have been involved over many, many decades.

"In this decade we have seen a major advance, a turning point, in fact, the successful introduction of the CMA Professional Program. We backed it up with expansion of Society services such as continuing professional education, including the Management Accounting Practices Handbook. The Handbook is recognized nationally and internationally as the leading research initiative defining the management accounting territory.

"The high quality of our professional training and support serves us well in a marketplace with growing opportunity to function as 'value-added' financial managers. If we choose to, we can cross the boundaries traditionally drawn around the accounting and finance functions and get involved in operational and strategic management. Often it's not a matter of choice, but just logical evolution in the management of organizations. As organizations build and shape themselves to find and maintain a profitable niche in a global economy, they are asking their professional accountants to perform a key role in operational and strategic decision-making. …

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