Q4 2017 Spotlight
IMAN SAMJI, Manager of External Reporting (Allied Properties REIT)
Iman Samji, CA, CPA is the Manager of External Reporting at Allied Properties, a public REIT. She previously was a Senior Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Assurance practice. At PwC, Iman was extensively involved in audit transformation practices, CPA mentorship, and course instructing for all incoming associates. Iman is currently on the Board of Directors for the FAPA – ON and represents young professionals’ segment on the board.
What first got you interested in the Accounting/Finance profession?
Many of my family members and role models growing up have been involved in the accounting/finance profession. I aspired to have the same stability, flexibility, and management capabilities as they had. By specializing in accounting, I have been able to carve out a descriptive and forward-looking plan for my career and having the ability to strategize and take ownership of my professional development has always been of value to me. More importantly, I can grow with the ability to manage my own time in a way that best meets both my professional and personal goals. Accounting is a profession that is centralized on leading teams, delegation, and project management, which has always been of keen interest to me. I thrive in an environment where I am can spearhead team projects, and I look forward to going to work everyday in a setting where I can be at the forefront of company-wide changes.
Having worked both in the public practice and in industry, what are the main differences you have noted? Are there specific advantages or disadvantages of one or the other?
There are no specific advantages or disadvantages, as I truly believe whichever path one chooses to take will lead to unique learning experiences. For myself personally, I found graduating and joining a large firm (PwC) to be beneficial. As someone who typically values having a plan, working at PwC put me outside my comfort zone by exposing me to industries that I would not have generally expected to see myself specialize in. This opportunity allowed me to work with several teams, where I learned how to both successfully work with and manage diverse personalities. PwC cultivated a demanding and challenging work environment that best prepared me for industry. After obtaining my CA, CPA designation, and learning that real estate was the area I was most passionate about, I decided to leave PwC for industry and join Allied Properties REIT as the Manager of External Reporting. Thus far, I have noticed several benefits working within industry, including the ability to work and develop within a stable team and work towards common organizational goals. I find myself focusing on strategies and business implications, which is a new and positive experience that I am grateful for.
What are your long term career goals? Many statistics now show that the average number of times an individual will switch jobs is about 5-6 over their lifetime. What are your thoughts on this?
I personally work towards growing within one organization as opposed to changing jobs frequently. At PwC, I transitioned between various teams and clients on a continuous basis, leading to a breadth of learning opportunities and experiences. However, at Allied, I value the depth to which I am developing my technical abilities and business acumen. While I cannot predict the future, and understanding that moving companies is seemingly the norm, I can definitely see myself growing within a financial reporting role and continuing to progress within the company. In the very long term however, I have found that I am able break down concepts easily and can see myself diverting from industry to pursue my passion for teaching and becoming a professor for business students.
What tips/words of advice can you provide highschool or post-secondary students who think they may want to go into a finance or accounting position?
I would say that the world is at your fingertips if you decide to specialize in finance or accounting and that there are limitless opportunities. My advice to high school and/or post-secondary students would be to remain focused on being a well-rounded individual. While you will definitely need top grades to be in accounting/finance, you will also need to showcase how you can manage a multitude of tasks and range of activities. You can demonstrate this by having high grades, balancing a part-time job, being an executive on a school club (i.e. extra curricular activities), and being involved within the community through charitable work. I found that ticking off all four of those boxes (while also enjoying my university social life!) helped me feel secure and confident in my ability to graduate with a career position that would lead to meeting my professional goals.