5 CPAs Working Their Dream Startup Jobs

1. Paul Besaw, Director of Finance at FinanceIt

On how a startup life is different than anything else…

“With the type of environment we have here, you’re encouraged to come up with ideas, turn them around, implement them, and have a meaningful impact on the business – that’s the main thing I like about it.”

Lessons learnt:

“Might sound too cliché, but don’t be afraid of making a successful mistake.  Take a chance and work out of your comfort zone. Take a chance when you don’t have 3 children and a mortgage. And in terms of working in different countries, take that opportunity – that’s something I did and in hindsight it was an irreplaceable opportunity that wasn’t my plan initially.”

“Don’t be afraid to get off that corporate treadmill.”

Financeit is a market leading point-of-sale financing provider servicing the home improvement, vehicle and retail industries.

2. Stefanie Koornneef, Manager of Finance at Wattpad

On what working at a startup is like…

“It’s a lot more fast paced, changing environment, with new challenges arriving all the time. You really get the opportunity to figure things out from the beginning”

“We are changing all the time and as the business changes we are finding new ways to innovate. There’s always new accounting challenges.”

Lessons learnt:

“A big difference is you aren’t just working on a process that’s already been created, but you are thinking of the best way to handle something and implementing your own process.

“It is a really empowering way to do work.”

Wattpad is a global multiplatform entertainment company that uses the power of community and technology to enable the creation and distribution of content across a variety of formats.

Are you a CPA that works to get involved with

start-ups? Click here to find out how!

3. Ali Akber Kanchwala, Finance Director at Plooto

On being a CPA at a startup…

“Working at a startup is great, everyone has a can-do mentality and everyone is dedicated to making sure Plooto is the next big thing. Everyone’s opinions matter, doesn’t matter which team or area you support. I definitely get to be part of product decisions, whether its new products or features, and the impact they’ll have on product-market fit.”

“One of the things I’ve focused on is using my background as a CPA to help me identify parts of our product offering that have greater potential for growth”

Lessons learnt:

Working in a start up is rewarding because you watch the company grow everyday, but it is definitely a high achieving workplace.

“The challenge of growing the business is part of the fun! Everyone is giving 150% all the time!”

Plooto is a cloud-based payments platform that enables businesses to send and receive payments in an easy, fast, and secure way.  


4. Matt Edirisinghe, Supply Chain & Planning at Ecobee

On expanding your skillset and the power of combining operational skills with finance…

“I have built a career going back and forth between the two (finance and operations). Every Finance team wants someone who knows operations so they are able to translate with the other teams.”

Lessons learnt:

“I talk to a lot of CPAs because they see a CPA like me and ask what are you doing and how did you do it? Well, if you’re in Finance and you want something different, put on your operations hat and do some operations, even if it’s a short-term stint. If you’re jumping from FP&A to FP&A across companies, you’re not going to grow your skillset the same way.” 

“If you don’t know, dip your toe into operations. Just try to broaden your skillset and find out.”

Ecobee makes wi-fi enabled smart thermostats for residential and commercial applications that are intuitive to use and beautiful to look at.

Are you a CPA that works to get involved with

start-ups? Click here to find out how!

5. Rose Thuringer, COO at The Ski Week

On the importance of being happy first…

“A common misconception of CPA’s is that we play a purely financial role, but our capabilities extend much further than this. We have been trained in a broad range of competencies to shape us into well-balance business people.”

“Over the past year I did a lot of introspection to determine the type of person I want to be. In my view there is a general thought in society that being “successful” is defined by making a high income and will therefore lead to happiness – but I have learned that, above all, you need to be happy first. Success and money should follow.”

Lessons learnt:

“I’m completely happy and no amount of money can buy that, and I’ve been lucky to have found that opportunity. But, there was a lot of reflecting, talking to new people, and being open to new experiences that have gotten me here.”

“You always need to figure out your priorities first.”

The Ski Week hosts a series of week-long micro ski festivals staged across some of the best mountains in the world, with guests from 50+ nationalities.


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