Working in Community
An interview with Meika Vanessa Matthews, CPA, CA, LPA
What do you like most about your career? The variety. My CPA designation allowed for financial stability and the development of critically important skills early on - skills that not everyone has. This gave me so many options. I’ve been able to move and work in other provinces and cities fairly easily, I’ve been able to start meaningful community projects of my own and support others; I’ve been able to run my own marine business on the side. Each day, I get to meet all kinds of interesting folks – clients, leaders, other practitioners – and help them achieve their goals. My career isn’t built around any one thing and hasn’t followed one particular path, I do different things. You can do whatever things you want to do. You can make your career whatever you want it to be.
What trait do you most admire in others? Grit. You know those people that get knocked down and then get back up or face seemingly insurmountable obstacles - usually with brutal, humbling honesty and ferocity and determination in their eyes. After that, kindness. The most important thing you can do for another human being whatever their circumstance is to be kind to them.
What is your greatest extravagance? Oh dear. Well, I drive a beautiful, bright orange jeep. I bought it last year. I love it to death, and it makes me smile every time I drive it.
What is your current state of mind? I’m a little sleepy. It is Monday morning. Monday mornings never really get easier! (Sorry about that).
If you had one piece of advice for 18-year-old you, what would it be? Slow down. What I mean by that is that it isn’t a race to check off all the things you think you are supposed to do in life. Let go of expectation. Spend time now figuring out who you are and what you want to do, who you want to be, and where you want to go. Have experiences. Get perspective. Meet people. Learn whatever you can. Develop an opinion. And sometimes just be still.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’m pretty happy about this CPA Emerging Leader Award. I’ve met some incredible CPAs and leaders that I may never have had the chance to meet otherwise. It also gave me a really good reason to pile all my friends into a limo and head into Toronto to celebrate. That could not have been a more fun evening.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Tiller. My Newfoundland Dog. Definitely. She has the best life ever.
Who are your favorite writers? I read a lot. All the time. Books are such a good way to escape for a moment and use your imagination. On the more serious side, I love Sheryl Sandberg, Malcolm Gladwell, Brene Brown. They are all saying important things on important topics right now. On the fun side, my friends and I are currently working our way through Reese Witherspoon’s book club list. It’s great! There are more than a few in there that you won’t be able to put down.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? I mean, who wouldn’t want to fly? But I think the most impactful superpower we could have – the one that could change the world, and most improve our daily lives – is super-empathy. The ability to see other people’s pain and understand how they behave, think and feel. Imagine the problems we could solve together.
Who are your heroes in real life? I am all about the everyday heroes. The community leaders in my town who put in a full day at their business or their shop and then head to a board meeting or fundraising event or coach some sports in the evening; those folks who wear the different hats and lend their time, their money and their expertise to moving the community forward, to supporting other people and their ideas and their projects. Without these people, our communities would look very different.