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Victoria Harbinson, CPA, CA

Controller, Patient Care
The Hospital for Sick Children

"The Hospital for Sick Children is a world-renowned organization that works to advance children's health in Canada and around the world," says Victoria. "I wanted to be a part of that, which is why I applied. Together with my colleagues in the finance department, we provide support to the hospital management to ensure its financial health is maintained."

Victoria began her training at a mid-sized firm in Toronto where she participated in and led audit and review engagements for owner-managed businesses. "It was an amazing learning experience because I got to interact with the business owners and see all aspects of the engagement including the tax preparation," she says. After over 4 years, she moved on to the Hospital for Sick Children as a controller.

In her current role, Victoria provides financial and operational support to managers, directors, and executives and SickKids. "This includes annual financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, operational management, and monthly financial review and analysis for senior management," all of which she was prepared for because of her CPA designation.

Victoria has had a big impact on the organization in many ways, from developing and automating compensation planning tools, which improved the annual budgeting process, to leading an initiative to reduce the month-end close from six to four days. She has even advocated for paperless monthly reporting.

"When I graduated from Western, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I had a friend who had written her CA exams, so I followed in her footsteps," she says. "The experiences I've had since those early days have only strengthened my abilities and allowed me to progress to where I am today. Without my CPA designation, I don't know where I would be or what I would be doing."

Chris Kotsopoulos, CPA, CMA

The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada

Chris' path to the chief executive officer position of the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada began with his education, including his CPA designation. From there, he worked with an accounting firm and then entered the not-for-profit sector as a controller.

"From there, I assumed increased responsibility and moved into senior finance and administration positions, then into operations," he says. "I was exposed to strategic planning, governance, marketing and communications, fundraising, and board relations," all of which was excellent experience to the move into the CEO role.

As CEO, Chris is accountable for the successful leadership, direction, and guidance of the foundation's day-to-day operations. He's helped develop the strategic vision of the Children's Wish Foundation, allowing the organization to increase its reach into the community by almost doubling the number of wishes granted.

A proud grandfather and lover of working out and ballroom dancing, Chris pursued his legacy CMA designation to achieve a fulfilling career and live the professional life he envisioned.

"Initially, I wanted a career in finance, and the legacy CMA designation provided an opportunity to follow that path. My designation has allowed me to apply a high level strategic thought process to issues and, at the same time, assess the impact of the various initiatives."

When asked why he chose the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada, Chris thinks of the people he's helping with his work.

"I was attracted by the mission and the opportunity to serve children and their families during a very difficult time in their lives," he says, adding that the best part of the job is seeing the smiles of the children he's helped while listening to how he and his colleagues have profoundly impacted their lives.

Photo: Brankica Tekic/Thinkstock