Today at the annual CAAA conference, I was awarded the L.S. Rosen award which is an annual award for contributions to accounting education. The official write up is here. Below I provide the text of my short acceptance speech which I used to thank some very important people in my career.
First, a huge thank you to the selection committee – Theresa, Michel, and Gary. I can’t imagine the time it took to read all the nomination packages and how difficult it must be to choose just one.
I want to take this opportunity to thank some key people who have significantly influenced my career. There are of course, 20 or 30 key people, many of whom are in this room right now but let me instead focus on just four particularly important people. Many of you will know personally the four names I am about to mention. My hope is that as I briefly share stories of how important their influence has been to me that you will also recall similar events with these people in your own life.
Pat O’Brien was my doctoral supervisor when I was at the University of Waterloo. If you’ve worked with Pat you know that she is incredibly bright and that she also has a very kind heart. Pat has the uncanny ability to listen to a cockamany idea and then gently guide you into a brilliant idea, all the while having you think the brilliant idea was yours from the get go. Pat, the lesson I learned from you was that smart comments and criticism are no less effective when delivered with a teaspoon of sugar and a smile. Thank you.
Mike Gibbins was my first boss at the University of Alberta. Mike may be a foot shorter and 25 years older than I, but my goodness his energy is boundless and contagious. It was from Mike that I learned how hard it was to be an effective educator and how important it was to understand and connect with each student. I watched Mike first hand deal with a variety of student issues – from devastating deaths in the family to homework being eaten by pets. Mike’s patience and fairness were incredible. My experience with Mike can be best summed up with a quote by Rohinton Mistry
There’s a fine line between compassion and foolishness, kindness and weakness. Wondering always about how firm to stand, how much to bend.
Mike, thank you for showing me the line between compassion and foolishness.
The third person I want to thank is Fred Phillips from the University of Saskatchewan. I owe Fred a number of thank-you’s – he was the one who pulled together the nomination package for this award, contacted so many alumni and colleagues for letters of support and wrote a very flattering nomination letter. But my thanks to Fred go so far beyond that. Fred is likely one of the best accounting educators in the country and without doubt the top accounting education researcher. He won this award three years ago and a 3M national teaching award before that. Fred’s research on accounting education, particularly on cognitive development, will continue to influence our work at CPA Canada and I assume many other institutions. While Fred and I have never worked at the same institution, he’s been a true colleague and dear friend for over ten years. Fred was unfortunately unable to be here today, but Fred from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Now, to end the suspense …
The fourth person is not a person at all – it’s the accounting profession. The opportunities I have had to work with the legacy accounting associations and now with CPA Canada have, without a doubt, been an incredible influence on my career. In my role at CPA Canada, there are of course days that I wake up and wonder if the volume of work and stress are worth it. But then I remember that I have the privilege of working for an institution who has publicly stated that one of its key objectives is to be a leader in accounting and business education. That’s a pretty cool objective – be a leader in accounting and business education. The support for achieving that objective is tremendous. While there are those depressing moments when you wonder how we can possibly achieve it, there really is no doubt that we will achieve that. The support of the executive team at CPA Canada, my boss Tashia, my many colleagues, and especially my PEP team and PREP team has been endless and invaluable. Thank you for making that grandiose objective achievable.
These four people have obviously had a tremendous positive influence – life changing even for me. If we remember nothing else from this conference, can we each take away the importance of community and support? My career to date is the result of a community pushing me, challenging me, and supporting me. While we can go through our careers as a set of individuals, undoubtedly we can do more to improve accounting education if we instead choose to work together.
Thank you again for this tremendous honour.