Celebrating success: Teamwork and a flawless result

Rob Thomason

As we prepare for a new semester, it’s an ideal time to remind yourself of the goal you’re working towards and motivate yourself for a productive study of semester ahead. I am always inspired and motivated by the hard work and dedication that all our members display when working towards becoming a CPA. On occasion, a particular story of dedication and success crosses my path and I’d like to share one such story with you today, in the hope that you too can draw some inspiration.

At the recent series of certificate presentation ceremony’s held globally, we were pleased to advance hundreds of Associate members to CPA status. We also had the privilege of awarding Certificates of Excellence to 37 members, including a husband and wife in New Zealand, Janrich and Gillianne Vasquez, who both achieved a perfect record of six High Distinctions. The story of Janrich and Gillianne is an impressive one and I’d like to share some of their story with you.

A strong foundation

Gillianne and Janrich’s academic and professional origins began in the Philippines where they completed undergraduate studies in business and accounting. Both received academic distinction throughout their study – Gillianne as Valedictorian in her graduating year and Janrich as a finalist in the Student Excellence Awards, to name just a few of their accolades. They both completed post graduate qualifications and went on to promising careers in the Philippines.

The pursuit of opportunity

When personal circumstances led them to move to New Zealand, they knew that a designation that was both locally respected in New Zealand and globally relevant would help them stand out in the profession. They chose the CPA designation for that reason – a respected, relevant, well-rounded program with the flexibility to juggle work and personal commitments. They enrolled together in the CPA Program and their journey to becoming a CPA began.

Teamwork works

They progressed through every step of the CPA program together. Undoubtedly, having a partner study along-side helped them both immensely. They could seek help from each other and share their expertise; Janrich is the household expert in Management Accounting, while Gillianne’s strength is in Financial Accounting and Auditing - and everything else, according to Janrich! So between the two they had a local 24/7 helpdesk!

Although we can’t all be so fortunate to have a partner studying alongside us, you may all seek similar comradery and support by joining or forming a study group through My Online Learning. And as far as a 24/7 help desk – although not quite as handy as sitting across the dining table, you may all access our ‘Ask an Expert’ forum in My Online learning where you’ll get a prompt answer to any technical question.

Their tips for success

Success like theirs doesn’t come without planning and commitment. When we asked Gillianne and Janrich to share their advice, they provided some great tips:

Plan, plan and plan again
A semester lasts less than three months, so everything happens so fast. Time management is key, during the semester and indeed in the exam itself. They prepared a realistic schedule – factoring in holidays, business travels, month-end closing - and stuck to it.

Every moment counts
They also made the most of the spare moments here and there – they add up! Janrich suggests that if you step back and reflect, you will be surprised how much “invisible” spare time you have. For example, you can read a couple of pages over a lunch break or while waiting for your bus to arrive, or while waiting at an airport lounge or when out on a business trip. When working full-time, you will rarely have a large block to study uninterrupted. So it is important to look at the study guide one page at a time. Janrich says “it matters not how slow you go, as long as you move forward.”

Understand, not memorise
It has always been their approach to understand the underlying concepts rather than memorising accounting standards or formulae. I also strongly endorse that approach. Having a full grasp of the concepts will equip you to handle complex questions and scenarios come exam time.

Ask for help, and accept it
Another key factor is to get support where it’s available – from family, friends and your employer. Janrich and Gillianne have been very fortunate to have a lot of support – from family members cooking meals while they hit the books, to keeping the gardening at bay! And their employers were generous in days off work to study for the exam.

A delightful distraction!

The saying, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans, rings true here when Janrich and Gillianne faced a new challenge - and in this case, a delightful one! While studying for their final subject, Global Strategy and Leadership, Gillianne and Janrich received the news that they were expecting a child. But with the lovely news came a battle with morning sickness and fatigue for Gillianne and she contemplated deferring the subject. But with commitment and lots of support from Janrich, she continued on and they both received a high distinction. What a great achievement!

Sharing success

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading their story – I certainly enjoyed hearing about this very talented couple. Naturally you’re all on your own individual journey, but I hope you can take some inspiration from Janrich and Gillianne.

Once again, I offer my personal congratulations to Janrich and Gillianne and all our recent recipients of Certificates of Excellence.

I’d like to share more stories with you in the future, so if you’ve got a great success story to share, let me know at egm.education@cpaaustralia.com.au.

Rob Thomason
Executive General Manager, Education