CMAs at Canadian Western Natural Gas

CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine, November 1995 | Go to article overview

CMAs at Canadian Western Natural Gas


WHEN ROSELLYN WICKERSON, CMA, GRADUATED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN WITH A BACHELOR OF COMMERCE DEGREE, SHE CHOSE A PATH A BIT DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF MANY OF HER PEERS. "MOST OF THE PEOPLE I KNEW WITH ACCOUNTING MAJORS WERE GOING ON TO BECOME FINANCIAL ACCOUNTANTS AND AUDITORS," SHE SAYS. "BUT EVEN THOUGH I HAD AN ACCOUNTING MAJOR, I WAS PRETTY SURE I DIDN'T WANT TO FOLLOW THAT PATH. I WENT INTO BANKING MY FIRST YEAR OUT OF UNIVERSITY, AND THAT'S WHERE I HEARD ABOUT THE CMA PROGRAM."

After doing some research, she felt that the CMA designation would be a valuable addition to her credentials; she quickly discovered that it carries a lot of weight, especially in Calgary's oil and gas industry.

"The CMA program doesn't just train accountants," she says. "It trains managers - particularly managers who deal well with change. And that fact is quite well recognized in the business community."

She earned her designation in 1979, a day or two before being interviewed for a job at Canadian Western Natural Gas (CWNG), a Calgary-headquartered utility that supplies natural gas service to 340,000 customers in central and southern Alberta. "I think the fact that I had just obtained my designation helped get me the job," she says. "There were a number of CMAs in the company at the time, and they were well-respected for the contributions they were making."

She worked a number of years in the corporate controller's division, developing budgets, accounting for depreciation of company assets and supervising the accounts payable and accounts receivable functions. Nine years ago, she made a career shift into human resources. She admits that a move from accounting to human resources may, on the surface, seem a bit of a stretch. But she believes it was a natural progression.

"I never felt that my CMA designation would limit me strictly to accounting," she explains. "In fact, I've always believed the opposite. I felt it would help me with business management in general, and human resources is just another aspect of business management." Today, Wickerson is responsible for all of CWNG's compensation and benefits programs, labour relations, collective agreements, human resource information systems, and performance evaluation processes.

As a manager who firmly believes in the concept of accountability, she knows it's important that a direct link exists between human resource strategies and business goals of the company. "It's important for all managers to demonstrate a return on investment for programs and policies initiated in their department," she says. "And I believe my CMA training provides the tools to ensure that I can achieve this objective."

Wickerson also believes the days of the business specialist may be quickly disappearing. To be successful, people at all stages of their careers need to continually add to their skill base.

"Companies of the future will look for people who are flexible and adapt easily to change," she says. "Employees must be prepared to take on a variety of challenges. With flatter organizations, there isn't going to be as much opportunity for upward movement as there used to be. …

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