A Career in Finance

The world’s first accountants originated in Mesopotamia with the use of clay tokens to keep track of animals and grain. Today, those clay tokens have been swapped out for digital spreadsheets and software platforms that more than 210,000 certified professional accountants in Canada, and more than 1.24 million in the U.S., use every day to make sure a company stays on track.

“Everything we do, every decision we make is a revenue or expense and it affects the bottom line,” said Maureen Magura, vice-president of finance for Frontier. Magura has been an accountant for 19 years.

“The industry – especially in customs – is very unique. Understanding the terminology and the rules with customs when it comes to the payment of duties and taxes really does help, especially with a lot of changes that are going on with customs right now.”

Magura said clients rely on her department to understand the paperwork involved in accounting for goods when they cross the border, how to prepare payments, and communicating with the governments on their behalf.

“…They really do rely on us, I think, to help them, to tell them what they need exactly without having to fully understand what, for example, is a bond for customs.”

There are two streams working under Magura: accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Charlene Zelanko, billing manager at Frontier who works in accounts receivable, said her job involves invoicing for freight and Canadian brokerage. She said the skills needed to perform her role are the ability to prioritize, having a good understanding of company systems and programs, and knowledge of Excel.

“Being able to troubleshoot, handle large quantities of data in a timely fashion, and good attention to detail are also valued,” she said. “This is a nice field to be in if you like working both independently and in a team environment. There’s a lot to learn and there are different areas you can grow from here.”

Feng Ding, accounting clerk in accounts payable, mostly processes invoiced for freight but he also deals with brokerage and administrative invoices. His department uses multiple platforms to make payments, write monthly and annual reports, and update daily carrier rates.

What Ding finds enjoyable about working in the finance department is teamwork, processing invoices and figuring out how to solve problems, and a feeling that something was accomplished.

Some of the skills needed to work under Magura are an accounting designation, experience, an understanding of customs, duties, the tax system, and most importantly an attention to detail.

“There’s a lot that we can teach. It’s not a lot of necessarily difficult concepts, by any means, but just having the skill set of being the type of person that pays attention to detail, (someone who) likes to problem solve and look for solutions.”

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