Rising to the Climate Change Challenge
Della Wang, CPA, SCR, didn’t expect to work in climate change, but her CPA skills provided the perfect opportunity to make an impact in an increasingly important space.
She is currently a Manager in the Sustainability and Climate Change practice at Deloitte Canada and national GCN co-lead for Deloitte's WorldClimate Initiative, with a focus on climate strategy, capital efficiency and financial modelling. She is also the global sustainability and climate learning lead for Deloitte Canada, and she leads Deloitte Canada's efforts on nature capital and biodiversity. Della holds a HBA in Business Administration from the Ivey School of Business. She became a CPA in 2020.
Della shares her career journey, what her work involves and how CPAs can create impact in sustainability.
Where did you start your career and how did you get to where you are today?
I started my career in 2018 in the business valuations team with Deloitte within Financial Advisory. At the time, I was working primarily in financial modelling, portfolio strategy and capital allocation.
I was born in a region in China that was known for its industrial sector. This means that I saw the upstream end of supply chains that process goods and commodities for most of the world. Nothing is etched in my brain more than seeing the pollution, waste, living conditions and the damage that we are doing to our planet through consumption.
So, when I saw climate risks and strategy becoming increasingly interwoven with corporate strategies and business value, I started assessing the gaps in the sustainability consulting space that could be filled with skill sets that I had. I explored the intersection of finance, accounting and climate change, and how organizations can most optimally deploy their capital to decarbonization initiatives to achieve their net zero targets.
Now, I am a Manager in Sustainability and Climate Change helping organizations navigate the fast pace of energy transition. Having my CPA designation means that I bring in a financial perspective that is critical to an organization’s decision-making.
Why did you decide to become a CPA?
I had always known that the CPA designation would prepare me for any professional roles and industries. It felt like a necessity to equip myself with the fundamentals of finance, accounting, tax and governance before stepping into my professional career.
I still recall sitting in my mergers and acquisitions class in university. The CEO of a large finance organization came to speak to us and said that a CPA is one of the most valuable designations that equips future leaders with a well-rounded set of critical thinking skills and an understanding of business fundamentals, operations and risks. He often observed that CPAs were selected over others for C-suite positions. It was affirming to hear this when traditionally CPAs were viewed to have a very specialized role.
What does a day in your work involve?
My work ranges from leading a large dynamic team of finance, accounting and tax consultants through complex decarbonization issues that our clients are facing, to working in close proximity with conservation not-for-profits on how to accelerate financing and capacity development for Indigenous-led natural climate solutions in Canada.
My job allows me to take on other meaningful roles in my organization. I lead our Canadian green team, represent Canada at the Deloitte Global Sustainability and Climate Learning steering committee, attended the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) and represented Deloitte at the One Young World 2022 Manchester Summit.
How can CPAs make a tangible impact on sustainability initiatives?
Having my CPA means that I’m equipped with a foundational and transferrable set of skills that I use daily in my career. The International Sustainability Standard Board (ISSB) under the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is continuing to define global disclosure standards on climate and nature that will impact an organization’s strategy, accounting and reporting on their sustainability impacts. These organizations need CPAs to help them understand and adapt to these ever evolving frameworks and better prepare for the complexity of accounting for climate, nature and biodiversity.
From helping organizations understand financial implications of decarbonization initiatives, to building decision-support models to quantify and assess various energy transition scenarios, being a CPA means that I can help bridge a critical gap between the complex world of financing, accounting, reporting and disclosures to the world of engineers, economists and biologists. The combined elements of both worlds are required for organizations to make better decisions for their business and the world.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
It is difficult at times to be reminded of the seemingly insurmountable challenge of climate change. But being surrounded with passionate individuals every day that care about this subject is so energizing and empowering that I cannot be more grateful that I’m able to combine my personal mission and passion with my job.
I’m inspired by the people that I work with. Sitting in discussions together with brilliant colleagues and clients, talking about how to tackle common challenges surrounding climate change and biodiversity loss and seeing how different pieces of knowledge and insights come together in a solution is the most exciting part of my job - second only to coffee.
What do you wish more business leaders knew about sustainability and climate change?
That it is and can be a win-win for organizations. Often climate and environmental actions within an organization are viewed as a risk mitigation strategy, but we have seen that successful alignment of climate action into organizational value and strategy can yield significant opportunities with financial and other co-benefits.
Financing for climate and nature is critical in the coming decade. It is also important to note that natural climate solutions and Indigenous-led solutions should be prioritized alongside clean technology.
What do you wish more aspiring CPAs knew about CPA career paths?
I hope aspiring CPAs can see that there are so many career opportunities with the designation.
I have seen my peers take on and excel in various creative and inspirational professional roles that we never envisioned ourselves to be in a few years ago as freshly accredited CPAs. I wish I knew earlier on that there is always room in whichever industry for innovative thinking and new perspectives, and as a CPA we are in a perfect position to provide them.
I hope to inspire more CPAs to unlock their potential and use their valuable skill sets to make a difference in our world.