Curtis is an Accounting coordinator at Vovia. He loves music, sports and family and when not crunching numbers, he’s up for telling or hearing good jokes, enjoying a refreshment with friends and family and taking the family dog, Lucy, for a good long walk.

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Five Years in the Life of a Second Career Accountant

My name is Curtis. I recently celebrated 5 years with Vovia and to commemorate this anniversary I thought I’d focus this post on how I got here.

In late 2016 I made the best decision of my life by taking the advice of the other best decision in life, my wife, and going back to school to upgrade my skills. I had worked previously for many years in the banking industry and it had come to a natural conclusion. By that, I mean I was not fulfilled with the roles I played in the industry.

When I was growing up I always wanted to be a teacher or some kind of mentor. In the banking industry I found none of that. I was constantly fighting a battle of goals that were not helpful to clients but helpful only to the bank. When I had enough I walked away for my sanity and for my health.

I always loved working with numbers though. So after some research I decided to follow a path of taking classes to obtain an accreditation in accounting. Little did I know at the time how this would change everything for myself and my family.

When I started school it was a bit of a process as it had been many years since I had been in a learning environment. I did quite a few of my first classes online but eventually to speed some things up I was able to take in class sessions and this was where I got my first taste of what I had always wanted, to mentor others. I quickly found that many of the people in the class would look to me for advice and assistance. I don’t know if it was just because I was older or if it was because I was doing very well in the classes. What I do know is that helping others and learning myself at the same time exposed me to two things that I would fall in love with, accounting and leadership.

I knew as I completed my training at SAIT that I was going to probably have to get lucky to find a position that would give me any opportunity to use my new found talents. 

And boy was I lucky. 

As I was completing one of my final classes in accounting software in Spring 2019, my professor asked if I was interested in meeting with a woman that he had met at a conference. She was asking if he knew anyone that might be interested in a junior accounting role with her company. In asking me, he told me that I was the only person he was recommending. 

I was ecstatic for the opportunity.

As I had been looking through job advertisements there were so many junior roles asking for 2 or more years of experience. I was worried that I might not find the opportunity I had worked so hard for. I immediately sent my resume to Jess, who at the time was doing the Controller duties for Vovia. After a whirlwind of interviews, which included an interview where I sat with three future teammates just to see if we were a good fit for each other with a half hour conversation about Game of Thrones, I was offered the position and it actually felt like the world had come together for me. At the same time, my wife and I had just had a baby about six months prior and I finally felt like everything in my life had led to this moment, as corny as that sounds. 

On April 29, 2019 I came into the offices of Vovia for the first time as an employee. I was filled with excitement and nervousness but I definitely didn’t get to dwell on it as I was thrown right into the deep end to get started on monthly billing. Also at the same time we had broadcast month end which meant that payables would be piling up from radio and TV vendors along with out-of-home and third party digital. It was a learning experience to say the least. I wondered after that first week if I was really going to be able to do all the things that were being thrown at me.

Short answer, I could. 

When I look back at the beginning and the role that I started in, I am actually so grateful that I came into a company like Vovia. Not only was I given the opportunity to grow and learn with amazing support from the people around me, I was given a role that got me to learn and sharpen many new skills. I could have ended up in a role that I only did payables or only did billing and receivables but I got to do it all and then being in a smaller company I got to grow into even more responsibility such as reconciliations and month end requirements. 

As the time went by and I did get more exposure to different parts of the accounting world I was given an opportunity to step up when our Controller left the company for new opportunities. At that time I wasn’t ready to take over those full duties but I knew that I would be integral to the next person coming in and working with them to learn the business and the systems. In this way I got to use my mentoring capabilities even with someone who was technically MY leader. It turned out to be a great experience and helped me to grow and become more independent. 

After a couple of years the new controller moved on for a different challenge and I was at a crossroads. I was asked if I felt I was ready to take over and at the time I think I wasn’t as confident to take on the full role. It is something that ended up teaching me a lesson. 

That lesson was to believe in myself and know that if I apply myself I can learn and do almost anything.  Except maybe run a marathon. I’m not built for that.

The new hire had a difficult time adjusting to our business and this forced me to take on a bigger role than I expected. I ended up teaching myself many things over the next few months and worked hard to get myself to a confidence level that I was able to take over the role when it did not work out for my leader at the time.  

This was my opportunity and I took it upon myself to really make sure I was ready. I spent many extra hours learning and working hard to get myself prepared for the role. The fire that was sparked in me at this time was something I had never experienced. I was ready to take on the new role and not just do it but excel. 

The one thing I wanted to give back though was the same opportunity that I had in the beginning. So I made it a focus when I hired my next junior that I would look to be giving someone that first chance in the field. My current team member that I am leading has been so amazing in the role and excelled even more than I could have imagined and I like to think that some of it was my guidance in a leadership role. 

On April 29, 2024 I reached my five year anniversary at Vovia. 

Through the trials and tribulations of new leaders and a pandemic I have always been grateful for the opportunity given to me. I look forward to all the years I have ahead and all those years of working with and being a leader with a great team of Vovians.

In the end working at Vovia has been the greatest time of my professional life so far. I have been able to develop skills that I never knew I had. I work with a small but dedicated team who cares about each other and loves the work we do. I can really say that it is never too late to find something you might be passionate about, whether it’s working with people, or diving into spreadsheets. There is an opportunity for something to bring you enjoyment every day.

So if I could give one piece of advice to any reader here who hung around until the end of my story, it would be that it really is in your hands to excel. Believe in yourself and follow your passion but know that you will have to work very hard for the things you want. To quote one of my favorite radio DJ’s “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”.