TRAILBLAZING WOMEN: MNP PARTNERS TALK WORK, LIFE, AND CAREER.
Being a female Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in a traditionally male-dominated profession can pose challenges – and some of them come from within ourselves, say three Ottawa-based partners in MNP, a national accounting and consulting firm.
The world of accounting is as diverse as the businesses, organizations and individuals CPAs serve. From making sure a client’s tax strategy is effective to planning for growth to exploring succession options, the work is dynamic and ever changing, says
Natalie Schuler, MNP’s Ottawa Professional’s niche leader.
The responsibility of being a leader has its challenges and rewards, regardless of your gender, Schuler says. However, finding your voice and advocating for yourself often is harder for women. “Be confident in your abilities and surround yourself with those people who support you in your career and are there for you,” she says. “Find those people to have those great conversations to talk through ideas or concerns or problems, whether it’s formal mentorship or someone with leadership qualities you want to emulate.”
Having women in leadership positions shows other women they can also be leaders, says Kayla Seipp, leader of MNP’s Eastern Ontario not-for-profit assurance team. “Working with other female partners when I was an articling student made it clear to me that it was okay for me to continue to have this goal of ‘I think I should be a partner and now I can see that I deserve to be a partner.’ You still might feel that you need to work twice as hard to be taken seriously, but you can see things are changing, and there are women in key leadership roles, too.”
The trick to success is trying out different things to find the area that speaks to you, and that you can be passionate about, she says.
At MNP, she was able to meld her passion for working with not-forprofits and charities with her love of details and numbers.
“The things that motivate me are the clients and the important work that they do, while being able to put all the pieces together and finding the solutions they need in the end,” Seipp says.
As a partner in MNP Ottawa’s accounting and assurance group, Tracy Watters works primarily with small-to-mid-sized business owners as a general practitioner and enjoys the relationships that develop from that.
“Their business is their being,” she says. “You get to know their business, their family, and they start calling you for everything – payroll issues, tax questions, a fund for their kid’s education, and sometimes the questions are more complex, and you help to connect them with one of our many specialists to get them the right information.”
Family is important to Watters, and the flexibility MNP offers its people was one of the reasons she joined the firm. “Because I think that’s where females hesitate to jump into a leadership role, that partnership role – they worry about the time they are going to spend in the office,” she says. This past year, Tracy and her husband split parental leave after welcoming their second child.
Her advice to young female professionals is to find someone in a role you aspire to and ask all the questions you have. “Get personal, ask about what works for them, how understanding people are about things you might be worried about, and just– if there are things that are holding you back, try and find some of those answers.”
In March 2021, the firm welcomed two new partners, Lynda Carter and Mélanie Lefebvre, to the MNP Ottawa office. To get in touch with one of our advisors, please visit: https://www.mnp.ca/en/offices/ottawacarling