Leading Canada's National History Society

CPAs can be found in every industry, being experts at more than numbers – and they’re great with those, too.

Every month, CPA Manitoba spotlights the diverse and dedicated professionals that prove CPA is more than a designation. 

I love everything about this profession and wouldn’t be working in this industry or organization if I didn’t love what I do. That includes everything that a CPA represents.

Patricia Gerow’s career may have started out as a typist, but it was while she was working with a renovation company that her plans to pursue accounting first began to take shape.

“The renovation company I was working with did not have enough resources to keep an accountant,” she explains. “I stepped in, and there was an immediate connection. It sparked my interest enough that I joined the CMA program.”

While the weight of her new duties caused her a “little bit of anxiety,” Patricia is no stranger to creating something out of nothing and lending her diverse skill set as a poised professional.

After obtaining her designation in 2000, Patricia worked in varying industries, including agriculture, warehousing, construction, and transportation, until embarking on her 21-year tenure with Canada’s National History Society – a role that gave her an opportunity to meet five Governor Generals of Canada and orchestrate the financial management of awards programs and two nationwide magazine publications that explores the stories and events that illustrate the diversity of Canada.

“Call it happenstance or simply being there at the right time, and the right moment,” notes Patricia. 

“Robert Half International Inc. was seeking an accountant on behalf of Canada’s National History Society for a seven-month term. Naturally, my interest was piqued. The organization had been through four accountants that year alone. I was hired and as they say, ‘the rest is history’”! 

While Patricia is known for her bright and enthusiastic personality, it was her unique combination of skills that cemented her position with the organization. 

Today, as Director of Finance and Administration, she is responsible for leading the strategy and management of the charity’s finances so it can carry out its mission of “bringing relevance and awareness to our nation’s diverse past, illuminating the people, places and events that unite us as Canadians”.

In addition to her vast financial responsibilities, Patricia has helped ensure (alongside a very talented team) the smooth publication of the broadly known magazine, Canada’s History. She has also supported donor and vendor management, fund development, event management, and more. 

“No day is the same day and that’s what I love,” she says. “One day I can be managing invoices and the next, overseeing the development of a grant application or planning a noteworthy event.”

After two decades with the organization, Patricia chalks up her continued commitment to her: sincere passion for the profession; respect for the voices and stories of Canada’s diverse history; and investment in an outstanding team who are steering the organization forward into its next chapter.

“I hold a deep appreciation for how history adds resiliency to our communities and institutions,” she asserts. “More than that, to be part of an organization that can empower and influence a whole new generation of Canadians through historical education — that is truly inspiring.”

Reflecting back on her career and looking forward to what is still to come, Patricia speaks often about the honour she feels working and volunteering for nonprofit organizations with such significant legacies.

“Volunteering creates another opportunity to learn,” she says with an endearing smile. “It allows us to learn more about our profession, but also how to voice our opinion and listen to others to help shape those opinions.”

Through the years Patricia has been an indispensable community volunteer for several local and provincial organizations including the Manitoba Provincial Rifle Association and Prairie Valley Area of Girl Guides of Canada. 

Noteworthy in her volunteer efforts is her extensive involvement with St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, where she serves as Treasurer and was nominated to join the Going Forward Committee to help find a new parish leader.

“As a relatively new member of the parish, I was touched and honoured to be invited to serve on the committee, and humbly accepted,” recalls Patricia, who in her downtime, enjoys reading, needlework and trying new and fun recipes for her family to enjoy. “This experience taught me a lot about myself, the needs of the community and the needs of the parish. Thanks to our collective efforts, the right person for the role was found.”

Perseverance has been the reigning theme throughout Patricia’s professional and volunteer accomplishments.

“I didn’t pass the CMA Entrance Examination the first time, but it was my perseverance and passion that fueled my desire to keep going.” 

And, if there’s one piece of advice Patricia would offer future generations of CPAs, it’s … “to keep going!”

“Find something you love to do and DO IT! Even if it takes you 11 years, even if the journey is difficult or you stumble along the way, don’t give up!” Patricia exclaims. “I love everything about this profession and wouldn’t be working in this industry or organization if I didn’t love what I do. That includes everything that a CPA represents.”

In the future, Patricia hopes to look back and say: “I wouldn’t change a thing, because every relationship I have built, was built with purpose. Every connection I have made, was made for a reason. Every opportunity I was afforded was because of my perseverance and was all made possible because I followed my instincts and pursued a career I was truly passionate about.”