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Beedie School of Business
SFU Co-op Student

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The author and her team at a banquet hall
Event planning has always been a passion of mine and now, having experienced it on such a large scale, I have a new-found admiration and enthusiasm for it.

Overview of CGA-BC and CPABC 

For my second self-directed co-op position, I worked as a Marketing Assistant for the Certified General Accountants Association of British Colombia (CGA-BC) for six months. CGA-BC is an organization that governs, regulates, trains, and certifies BC’s CGAs and CGA students.  According to CGA-BC’s website, as of “May 9, 2013, CGA-BC, the Certified Management Accountants Society of BC (CMA BC), and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC (ICABC) signed an agreement to pursue a merger. The three self-regulated accounting professions are working to unite under the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC (CPABC).” Not surprisingly, this merger led to some adjustments and I quickly learned to adapt to the changes taking place.  During my first month on the job, CGA-BC’s marketing team, including myself, moved into the CMA office so that the entire marketing department could be united.

Throughout my work term I had to learn quickly, think on my feet, and ask many questions. In order to succeed in my role as a Marketing Assistant and to support the Event Management team, I honed my communication skills and paid very close attention to detail. I learned how to use CGA’s member database and regularly used tools such as Microsoft Office, including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. My position also included records management and other administrative work. All of these small detailed tasks eventually added up to establishing successful Association events.  In this post I reflect on the three main events that I helped organize, which includes the CPABC Fall Leadership Conference, the Chair’s Banquet and Awards Gala, and the CGA and CMA Convocation Ceremonies.

CGA convocation stage

CPABC Fall Leadership Conference

This year the CPABC Fall Leadership Conference took place in Victoria at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Victoria Conference Centre. It was four days packed with keynote speakers, professional development sessions, fun evening events, and Western Canada’s leading trade show for accountants. I was responsible for much of the registration, following up with inquiries, corresponding with exhibitors, and creating more than 700 registration packages for conference attendees. During the conference, I helped set up rooms and ensured everything ran smoothly. Our team’s months of planning culminated in a very successful conference, with every last detail falling into place and on schedule.

Women posing for the picture with masks and fancy pink scarves

Chair’s Banquet and Awards Gala 

The Chair’s Banquet and Awards Gala was held the day after the CPABC Fall Leadership Conference at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. It was an evening to recognize and honour outstanding members of CGA- BC. Everyone was dressed to the nines and enjoyed themselves. During the event, it felt very rewarding and nerve-wracking to be up on stage helping hand out awards in front of approximately 170 people.

Leading up to the event, I sent formal letters to all 47 award winners to inform them that they were to receive an award and to confirm their attendance, whether they were bringing guests, had any dietary restrictions, and more. I also created a PowerPoint that played throughout dinner, which featured each award winner with some fun facts about them. Finally, I wrote a media release for each of the 47 award winners to announce their accomplishment to their employer, the Association, and the public.

Banquet and Awards Gala

CGA and CMA Convocation Ceremonies

Convocation is a time to come together to celebrate students’ achievements in receiving their CGA or CMA designation. These ceremonies were held at the Vancouver Convention Centre in early November. The CGA and CMA Convocation Ceremony had 427 and 250 graduates cross the stage in front of approximately 1,990 and 1,100 guests, respectively.  In the evening, a banquet and ball was held against a backdrop of the North Shore mountains.  The event was attended by 434 CGA grads and guests, while 550 CMA grads and guests attended theirs. This occasion is a milestone in all of the graduates’ lives as they can now enter the world as ready-to-work accountants. The enthusiasm of the graduates was contagious throughout both events and it was a pleasure to take part in them. During the CMA Convocation I again was on stage helping to hand out certificates to each graduate. 

Leading up to these events, our marketing team did a walk-through of the Vancouver Convention Centre to ensure there was enough space for the stage, dining area, etc. For both ceremonies I cross-checked graduates’ names for the PowerPoint that displayed their names as they walked across the stage, the advertisement in the Vancouver Sun, and the Convocation Program handed out at the event. I ensured that all awards were accounted for and correct. Furthermore, I created an opening PowerPoint that played as guests arrived, and I completed other administrative work. For the CMA convocation, I even organized the seating plan for 550 people.

Jennifer Johnson getting an award

Reflection

Looking back on the past six months, I have learned an exceptional amount of new skills and knowledge pertaining to event planning, problem solving, customer service, and business writing.  Event planning has always been a passion of mine and now, having experienced it on such a large scale, I have a new-found admiration and enthusiasm for it. Working on an event for months in advance, it feels like such an accomplishment to see it through to fruition. 

I appreciated the opportunity to always work on something new. This kept me open minded, flexible, interested, and challenged.

I have definitely grown as a professional and feel more confident departing from my student life and entering the work force and I would like to thank all the wonderful people I worked alongside, especially the Marketing Team!

Jennifer Johnson and her Marketing Team

SFU Co-op Student
Jennifer Johnson is a 4th year business student concentrating in Marketing with a Corporate Social Responsibility Certificate. Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.

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