For Jesse Iles, there ain’t no sweep for the wicked.
Curling puns aside, she is an incredible go-getter: varsity curler, honours accounting graduate, scholarship award recipient more than a dozen times over, researcher, and avid volunteer. Of course, whatever Jesse does—there’s no doubt—she rocks at it.
Jesse began curling at the age of five, and was recruited to play as “lead” for the University of Alberta’s curling team by head coach, Rob Krepps, during summer camp one year. “I am so honoured and grateful that they recruited me for their program so many years ago. It opened the door for so many great opportunities,” reflects Jesse.
Of course, no road to greatness is perfectly paved—an experience that Jesse received firsthand when she took a tough calculus class during the first semester of her first year at the University of Alberta (U of A). She was enrolled in science to become an engineer, and eventually decided to withdraw from the calculus class. It was the first time she felt lost academically. “I was convinced university was not for me,” remembers Jesse.
After reflecting on her options, Jesse decided to switch to business to be an accounting major. Both her Mom and Baba were CPAs and she thought: “How incredible would it be to continue that on and be the third generation of female CPAs in my family?”
Of course, calculus was still a required prerequisite, which initially made Jesse nervous. “When I took the calculus class again and scored in the 90s, it showed me that it wasn’t because I was terrible at being a university student, it was just because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing.”
After finding her academic groove, Jesse enrolled in the Honours in Accounting program with only six other students. This small and rigourous program contains some of the most difficult courses offered by the faculty, but Jesse excelled and earned straight As.
During her time at the U of A, Jesse was the recipient of over a dozen academic awards and scholarships, including the Aboriginal Student Business Award and the Harry Schaefer FCA Award in Accounting from the CPA Education Foundation.
Since graduating with honours earlier this year, Jesse spent her summer working on an independent research study with Dr. Karim Jamal FCPA, FCA, Chair of the Department of Accounting, Operations and Information Systems at the U of A.
Her research focus was two-pronged: first, she looked at where CPAs are positioned in companies across the world to gauge their earning potential; she then planned to evaluate the results of the CPA Professional Education Program and the Common Final Exam over the past several years to determine whether results have any correlation with climbing the company ladder. Her goal was to look into trends of the most successful CPAs to better equip the profession for the future.
For many, a summer research project would have been enough, but in addition to her work with Dr. Jamal, Jesse also worked part-time as an accountant while continuing to curl on a competitive women’s team in Alberta.
In the fall, Jesse started working with KBH Chartered Accountants and will be starting her CPA Core 1 Module in October. She’ll also be heading to Russia with the University of Alberta curling team in March 2019 to represent Canada in the World University Games, and planning a wedding for August 2019.
“I love being busy; I think I would go stir crazy if I didn’t have so many things going on in my life. This next year is going to be both challenging and exciting,” says Jesse.
Jesse truly has a long list of accomplishments to be proud of, but she says she owes it all to her supportive family: “A big shout out to my family! They were my mentors and motivators, and encouraged me to be everything I am today, even if it did mean moving nine hours away from them.” She also thanks the CPA Education Foundation donors and the Foundation for their support during her last year of university.
With university behind her and a bright future ahead of her, Jesse is an inspiration for future CPAs and will one day be a valuable addition to the CPA profession.
This article appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Capitalize magazine.