Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Q&A with Nicki, GDipPA '19, CFE Honour Roll 2020

Quick Info

  • Name: Nicki Butkowsky
  • Program: Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting
  • Graduate Year: 2019
  • Current Position: Staff Accountant 
  • Current Employer: Ernst & Young LLP
  • Prior Education: Bachelor of Commerce, McGill University

Why did you decide to study the GDipPA Program?

There were two main reasons for choosing the GDipPA. The first being the classroom aspect. If I had chosen the regular PEP route, all of my studying would have been online courses that would essentially be self taught. The GDipPA program was very similar to my undergraduate program providing actual lectures and giving me the opportunity to ask questions which is my preferred method of learning. The second reason was the time advantage it provided. Being able to write the CFE a year earlier than the regular PEP route also influenced me to select this program.

I wanted to study at home (Toronto) and I knew Rotman has a world-renowned reputation so the choice was obvious to apply to University of Toronto in order to continue my education.

What was the highlight of the Rotman experience?

The highlight for me was the ability to meet such a diverse group of people.

I was nervous going into the program as I only knew a handful of people but the way the program was designed allowed me to meet peers with ease and form new friendships.

I even found my dedicated study buddy whose motivation and support allowed us to both make the National Honour roll!

How did completing the program over the summer help when it came to starting your current job? 

I was able to apply some of the content I learned to my current job which was very useful. I had done an internship the summer before without ever taking an audit course and found myself lost. Upon finishing undergrad and completing the program, I gained a much deeper knowledge of audit skills and I found when I started my job the following Fall, I was thinking about concepts I had learned in the program as I was doing my work. It helped me to further appreciate the tasks I was performing because I understood the background.

Did Rotman and the GDipPA program meet your expectations?

Yes – definitely! Not only was I able to adopt a completely new way of thinking in just 12 short weeks (had never done a CFE-style case prior to the program) learning from professors with in-depth knowledge of the CPA process but I was also able to foster meaningful connections with my peers all working in the same industry.

What would you say to someone considering choosing the GDipPA?

I would say expect to be challenged and perhaps overwhelmed at the start but feel rewarded by the end at how much knowledge and skills can be packed into such a short amount of time.

The resources the program provided, especially the one on one case debriefs with the markers, strengthened my skills and allowed me to begin my studying for the CFE with confidence instead of fear.

Future plans? 

For now, my plans are to continue to work in public accounting until I find an industry that may draw me in. The skills learned at Rotman were diverse, meaning they can be applied to any sector I may choose to dive into in the future.

Finally, how did it feel to make the CPA CFE Honour Roll?

I first felt a sense of relief in just knowing that I had a passed the exam all together and then the pure shock set in! I felt truly grateful that all my hard hours of studying paid off and thankful to my support system for keeping me going through the process.

The Rotman Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting is an excellent way for you to gain advanced standing in the pursuit of a CPA. The 12-week program helps prepare you for the Common Final Examination (CFE) and allows you to advance straight to the Capstone 1 module in the CPA PEP.

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