- Are you interested in immigrating to Canada, finding a job and qualifying CPA Canada but not sure of what to expect?
- In fact: In today’s article, Chanda Kuber shares with us the exact steps she took from immigrating to Canada, to starting her career all over again in a new country to qualifying the Canadian CPA Exams.
- Presently Chanda is working as a Manager, Accounting Policy and Advisory in a financial institution in Toronto, Canada.
- She is a qualified Chartered Accountant from India, a Canadian CPA and has done her Bachelor in Commerce.
Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant
I am Chanda Kuber, born and raised in Mumbai (India). I am a qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and a CPA Canada.
I immigrated to Canada in mid-2016.
My journey from India to Canada is best described by this quote – “If four things are followed – having a great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work and perseverance – then anything can be achieved” – Late Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, Former President of India.
My journey of becoming a Chartered Accountant, like everyone else, was definitely challenging and involved a lot of commitment, hard work, and sacrifices.
I was very disappointed when I did not clear the CA Final exams from ICAI in the first attempt. I lost confidence and blamed myself thinking I would never be successful as I was not a ‘First Attempt’ CA anymore.
My parents supported and encouraged me to ‘try and try, till I succeed’. Keeping this mantra in mind and a positive attitude, I promised to leave no stone unturned and gave my best shot.
Finally, all the hard work paid off when I passed the final CA exams in 2011. It felt wonderful to become a qualified Chartered Accountant.
Opportunity to work at Deloitte, India
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I got an offer from one of the Big 4 firms – Deloitte.
While working at Deloitte, Mumbai (India), I was very fortunate to work with an amazing team as well as learn the practical aspects of accounting, audit, tax, etc in various industry sectors.
After working for almost 4 years at Deloitte, I graduated from being an Assistant Manager to Deputy Manager.
Deciding to Immigrate to Canada
Life was going great but I soon realized that I was getting too comfortable in my little world, that I should move on to gain international work experience.
I was not sure which country and what exactly I should be doing so I attended a few seminars on working/immigrating abroad.
At one of the seminars, I came across the Skilled Workers Express Entry program offered by the Canadian Government. I did my research and was very impressed with the quality of life and the openness to welcome immigrants.
Finally, I decided to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) along with my brother through an agent-based in Canada.
Applying through an agent came at a steep cost but I still opted for it as I was unfamiliar with the entire process. However, I also did independent research, simultaneously, to make sure procedures/documents requested are in order.
A word of caution while working with an agent: make sure that they are registered with the Canadian regulatory authorities.
After screening my profile, the agency seemed to be very optimistic about my application and ascertained that I have a favourable chance of getting PR.
The processing time varies as each individual has a unique set of skills. It took me almost over a year from start to finish.
Throughout the application process, till the day I got my visa, emotionally, I had mixed feelings.
On the one hand, there was the excitement of starting a new life, an opportunity to lead an independent life as well as a chance to better myself and create a better life for my family.
On the flip side, I was equally nervous about quitting a well-settled job/career and possibly starting afresh. I was stressed about moving away from my loved ones and not being able to be with my family every day.
Moving to Canada as an Immigrant, at last!
Finally, in mid-2016 I moved to Canada, beginning a new chapter in my life.
Settling in a new country is never easy, I had to keep an open mind and brace myself to keep trying with the hopes of having a better future.
The initial few months after moving here were very tough. However, on a positive note, it taught me to be stronger.
The more I communicated with people, it made me more confident to work in an entirely new environment.
I will always be thankful to my brother; he was the ear to all my rants in frustrating moments.
Finding a Job in Canada as a New Immigrant
Prior to moving to Canada, I tried applying for jobs from India (my home country), however, I didn’t receive a lot of responses.
In fact, a few companies/recruiters requested that I reach out to them only after I have landed in Canada.
Here was my action plan to find a job in Canada as a new immigrant:
- Reaching out to my past employer, if they have an office in Canada
- Applying through employment websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Workopolis, as well as applying directly on the careers page of companies
- Recruiting firms are certainly a great help and help with leads
“Finding a Contract Position at a Big 4 Firm in Canada”
My work experience in India (my home country) and CA degree from India, as well as my interest in pursuing CPA Canada, helped me land a contract position at a Big 4 firm.
I got this opportunity within a few months after landing in Canada, which was not too bad.
I had directly applied for this role on the firm’s website. This job gave me an opportunity to learn about the work culture, understand ‘working styles’ and also to blend in.
I tried to put my best foot forward at work and earned appreciation from Managers, Directors, and Partners, thereby developing connections and job references.
“Finally, Securing a Full-Time Permanent Job “
Soon after my 6 months contract at the Big 4 firm got over, I started looking for a job as I was burning out my savings to sustain myself.
Networking with professionals through LinkedIn does help and meeting them in person, has a significant impact on learning the nuances of the culture.
Reaching out to past employers and mentors, as well as approaching recruitment firms helped me finally secure a full-time job in June’17 as a Revenue Accountant in a Software Company.
Tips on Salary
The average salary for a full-time job is very subjective, as it depends on a lot of factors like role being offered, negotiation skills, networking skills, etc.
However, for contract jobs that are for a fixed term, the pay-out will generally pay in the range of $20-28/hr.
I would like to add a caveat that this is subject to the various factors listed above.
Preparing For CPA Canada
From the get-go, I had decided that I would like to pursue CPA Canada as I was keen on learning Canadian Accounting standards and Tax system.
I qualified for exemptions available in the MOU between ICAI and CPA Canada and finally enrolled for the Common Final Examination course (CFE) and Capstone (though exempted under MoU it is always good to register for this course).
Trying to balance work (or finding one) and making sure adequate time is allocated for studying was one of the biggest challenges I faced. With whatever time left, I started preparing for exams and regularly practiced cases.
There is a very specific approach to be followed while attempting case-based tests, and I got confused due to the lack of clarity. Results turned out as expected and I didn’t clear the exams in the first attempt.
I was very upset with the results as it involved a lot of effort, time and money.
After a lot of ups and downs, I managed to pass the Canadian CPA Exams.
I will never forget the moment results were announced in November 2018, I was now a qualified Canadian CPA.
If I could identify the driving factor that kept me motivated in this entire journey, it would certainly be:
Passion – Desire to learn
- Obtaining a degree is one part of the process, however, in my experience, the ‘learning’ never ends. It is always important to find your passion and follow it diligently, even when things get tough.
- I still recall my father enrolling me for CA course in India back in 2006 and asking me to give it a try but at the same time emphasizing to not feel pressured and overcome my fear.
- I absolutely loved the course and that was just a baby step to what became my full-time career over the last ten years.
People – who believed in me
- It is most imperative to surround yourself with people who believe in you.
- For me, it was my family, they never lost faith in me, and kept urging me to try my level best.
- I truly believe that the people I love and admire have contributed significantly to my success and I will always be thankful to them.
Perseverance – to keep reminding myself of my worth
- I understand that this is easier said than done.
- Everyone has their way of maintaining a positive attitude, find out what inspires you to keep going.
- It could be hanging out posters on the wall listing your dreams and reading them loudly once a day, talking to your friends and family about your prior achievements or even watching a movie.
- I believe this has a huge impact and is one of the most underrated ways of keeping up with your aspirations.
The power within you
- The culmination of the above factors contributes to developing inner strength and it is crucial to embrace that power within you. Comparing my journey to others has never helped me.
- Identifying my flaws, working on it and pushing my limits helped me get closer to the finish line.
- I am very proud of adding those designations to my name and to never let failures affect my career.
- Trust the process and ‘Never Give up’.
BONUS: Actionable Advice from Chartered Accountants Who Moved Abroad
“My wife and I had been to New Zealand just after our wedding in 2016.
As we traveled around the country we realised we wanted to explore more in life. We both love traveling and experiencing new cultures.
We searched for a country where our skills are Transferable and Acceptable, and where a visa isn’t an issue(where a country wants and appreciates immigrants i.e. not the USA).
We could earn well in Singapore or UAE, but only Canada and Australia gave us what we really wanted and Canada is COLD…..so we decided on immigrating to Australia.” Read my complete story here.
“I immigrated to Canada from India (Kolkata) a few years ago. I am a CA from India and a CPA Canada.
Personally, for me, the whole process of becoming a Chartered Accountant is a kind of Marathon and it is up to us (the Marathoner) to keep the momentum going.
Make a study plan, indulge in positive self-talk, trust my own inner voice, and ignore comments from people. Enjoy the path and don’t compare yourself to others.” Read my journey as CA from India to Canada
“I was a CFO at a leading bank in India when I decided to immigrate to Australia.
Most of the companies in Australia DO NOT HIRE without a Permanent Resident (PR). So you have to get your PR even before applying for jobs.
Networking plays a very important role to get the desired job and Linkedin can be your mate to connect with recruiters in Australia.
The cost of living is high and you can find it very difficult to save and send back as childcare is very expensive here so take everything into consideration when moving here.” Read Why Betty Quit her Job and Moved to Australia
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you considered moving to Canada? Or are you already in Canada?
Comment below and let me know.