Emerging Leader Award Recipients 2022

Congratulations to Our 2022 Emerging Leaders

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes the professional and philanthropic contributions of Ontario’s young CPAs, under the age of 35. Nominated by their peers, Emerging Leaders are innovative strategic thinkers who have made outstanding professional and community contributions early in their careers. They are trailblazing new professional opportunities for the CPA designation, shaping the future of our profession.

Meet our 2022 Emerging Leaders

Sarmad GilaniSarmad Gilani

Sarmad Gilani, CPA, CA

Sarmad Gilani is proof that there is no such thing as a “typical accountant.”

With a passion for learning and innovation, Sarmad has served Brookfield Asset Management and PricewaterhouseCoopers in many different areas, including Corporate Finance, Due Diligence, Treasury, Finance & Operations and special projects. The common theme across all these experiences has been bridging teams with different functional expertise to work as a cohesive unit and execute projects.

Sarmad is playing a key role in this space via robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives and cloud-based data transformation projects at Brookfield.  He aspires to bring significant savings in time and costs and encourages people to embrace new technology in the investment management industry.

As a board director for the Chaplaincy at The University of Toronto, Sarmad is also a champion for mental health, where he provides strategic and governance expertise to an organization that offers free mental health support and counselling to university students.

Sarmad’s greatest advocacy work relates to leadership development. Due to a chance encounter that changed his life, Sarmad has used his story-telling abilities to inspire students and young professionals to dig deep with a simple call to action - build better leaders for a better world.

Victoria GranovaVictoria Granova

Victoria Granova, CPA

An entrepreneur, community leader and passionate advocate for diversity and gender inclusion in the cybersecurity industry, Victoria has been the recipient of many prestigious awards for her work, including the 2021 Canada’s Top 20 Women in Cybersecurity by IT World Canada, 2021 Top 10 under 40 by Canadian Security Magazine, and Top 30 Alumni Under 30 by York University.

Victoria currently works in cybersecurity risk as a Security Technical Program Manager at Amazon Web Services. She is the founder of CyberToronto, a startup that provides free cybersecurity training and education, and is an instructor at Toronto Metropolitan University and York University's School of Continuing Studies.

As the former President of the (ISC)2 Toronto Chapter and founder of CyberToronto, she has highlighted the contributions of underrepresented groups in cybersecurity, specifically women and minorities, by organizing public panels on diversity and inclusion.

Victoria is both an academic instructor and a student, currently working towards her PhD at the Toronto Metropolitan University's Cybersecurity Research Lab.

From her passion for leveraging psychology to her championing of equity, diversity and inclusion, Victoria is focused on building the “human factor” in cybersecurity.

Salman HussainSalman Hussain

Salman Hussain, CPA, CA

Since joining Novo Nordisk Canada in 2016, Salman has demonstrated the true agility and skill of a CPA.

Promoted to the role of Head of FP&A and Supply Chain after leading the Financial Operations team and excelling in multiple roles within the organization, he now provides strategic direction and business insights to drive growth and guide the financial health of the organization. Salman is a two-time winner of the Circle of Excellence Award at Novo Nordisk, the highest honour recognizing those who create extraordinary value for the company.

Salman is also passionate about the future of finance, pursuing robotics and automation tools to understand their capabilities and benefits, and then bringing his key learnings back to the team.

Salman has worked behind the scenes and supported projects with a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of communities, including a partnership with the University of Toronto to support healthier populations in urban areas to fight against diabetes and other serious chronic conditions. Passionate about people development, he has launched a CPA development program at Novo Nordisk, and their first CPA student has now passed the CFE.

Salman is recognized in the organization for his leadership, effective communication skills, and his ability to simplify complexities to deliver results under any circumstances.

Bradley JessonBradley Jesson

Bradley Jesson, CPA, CA

Principal at Northwood Family Office, one of Canada’s first and largest multi-family offices and an active guest lecturer at the Rotman School of Management, Bradley has made family the core of his work in a professional setting and in the community. He is on the cutting edge of helping families manage wealth in a complex world, navigate innovative social impact investments, and support more effective philanthropic impacts.

Bradley is also the co-founder of JW Developments, a real estate group focused on developing the “missing middle” by increasing density in mature neighborhoods across Canada with the goal of helping to solve the housing affordability crisis.

Personally involved with numerous charitable and philanthropic initiatives, Bradley has sat on the Board of the Pride Centre of Edmonton, the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights, Mind Your Plastic Canada, and Free Play for Kids, which has given over 40,000 vulnerable and underprivileged youth the opportunity to play in a safe environment at no cost to them or their families.

Through his passion for technology, his enthusiasm for innovation and his skills as a CPA, Bradley has helped his clients and the non-profit organizations he works with refocus their attention on reaching their goals.

Chessa JopeChessa Jope

Chessa Jope, CPA, CA

Known for her expertise, collaborative spirit and strategic mindset, Chessa is a trusted finance leader whose advice is sought after by her colleagues. 

As a Finance Director at Ontario Power Generation Inc., Chessa has been instrumental in the success of several key initiatives, including its acquisitions of hydropower and gas facilities, the development of its climate-related financial disclosures and various programs that advance OPG’s commitment to become a net-zero carbon company by 2040. Also serving as Vice Chair of Electricity Canada’s Finance & Accounting Committee, she offers a finance lens to emerging issues affecting the utilities industry.

A champion and a mentor, Chessa is also dedicated to the future of the profession, mentoring several CPAs through the Common Final Exam and qualification process and volunteering as a panel member evaluating the Capstone 1 Oral Presentation.

In 2022, she was elected to a four-year term on the Queen’s University Council as a University Councillor, focused on building meaningful connections with alumni and supporting an inclusive and financially accessible experience for all students. 

Chessa has a reputation for actively seeking out diverse perspectives and ideas, and for investing her time and energy in the development and growth of her teams.

Raina KamdarRaina Kamdar

Raina Kamdar, CPA

Raina is dedicated to helping others thrive and succeed in their CPA journey. As a working professional at Grant Thornton, Raina has been an internal CPA leader, facilitator, mentor and trainer who has helped various colleagues prepare for CPA PEP programs and modules.  She has delivered over 20 workshops for over 100 colleagues across 15 Southern Ontario offices over the past two years.

Raina has volunteered her time to supporting first-generation secondary students at the Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW) Program and at student-run projects where she has helped deliver financial literacy workshops. She has also mentored first-generation post-secondary students through the First in the Family Program at the University of Toronto.

Raina is also a key member of the Grant Thornton Community Leadership program as lead advisor for the Junior Achievement’s Company Program, helping youth develop the financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills that they need to succeed.

Raina has seen first-hand the transformative and positive impacts of mentor relationships in her own experiences as a mentee, and she is passionate about paying it forward.

Shahbaz KhanShahbaz Khan

Shahbaz Khan, CPA, CA

As the accounting profession undergoes rapid transformation, finding new ways of working and identifying efficiencies are a top priority for every firm. In this changing world, Shahbaz brings a unique perspective to the impact of technology on the future of the accounting profession.

As leader of Wolters Kluwer’s API Program and Partners in North America, Shahbaz’s efforts in developing an API Marketplace of connected applications, ranging from cryptocurrency accounting solutions to AI powered scheduling software, will impact the way firms of the future leverage technology.

When not driving the profession forward through digital transformation, Shahbaz is an active member of his community. A self-described “product of mentorship,” he is a member of the Board of Directors at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton and Hamilton. Shahbaz also serves as co-CFO at the Muslim Awards for Excellence and MAX Scholarship Fund, not-for-profits focused on recognizing and accelerating the contributions of minorities in Canada.

Shahbaz is passionate about empowering others, from his fellow CPAs to the next generation, with the right tools and skills to succeed.

Alex MetaxasAlex Metaxas

Alex Metaxas, CPA, CMA

A proud CPA, a pro-bono member of the CPA Ontario Adjudicative Tribunals and a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Alex was distinguished with a Special Operations Forces Commanding Officer’s Commendation for management innovation while serving as a Logistics Officer.

His deployments with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Special Operations Forces Command have earned him the General Campaign Star (Expedition) and the Sea Service Insignia, recognizing his 180 days of service at sea. Alex was also recognized as the Royal Canadian Navy’s Top Logistics Officer in the Pacific Fleet and was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration for honourable service.

A champion for mental health and veterans, Alex has volunteered with various non-profit organizations, including Soldiers Helping Soldiers, and speaks openly about his own mental health journey with his CAF and Department of National Defence colleagues. A life-long learner, Alex is currently enrolled in law school at the University of Ottawa.

Alex has a strong leadership and personal philosophy built on teamwork, loyalty and responsibility. He inspires others through his relentless pursuit of excellence.

Sabreen SalmanSabreen Salman

Sabreen Salman, CPA, CA

Sabreen has traveled a unique path to arrive at her current position as Director of ESG Reporting and Measurement at Export Development Canada. Her interest in sustainability and social responsibility began during her business undergraduate studies as she led Schulich’s Corporate Social Responsibility Society as the Co-Chair, planning one of the largest annual undergraduate ESG conferences in Canada.

Since then, she has established herself as a valuable and unique ESG professional. With experience developing science-based GHG emissions reduction targets and measuring GHG emissions footprints, Sabreen plays an important role in helping companies transition to a low-carbon economy and make progress against their climate commitments.

Using her financial accounting and reporting background, she brings sustainability and climate reporting processes up to a much higher standard, allowing for accurate and complete disclosures.

Sabreen has a passion for sharing her journey and learnings with students who are looking to build an ESG career. Sabreen was interviewed by CPA Ontario as part of the Rise of the Warrior Accountant insights study and quoted in the CPAs and the New Social Contract research report published in 2021.

Whether it’s advancing transparency or driving the transition to a low-carbon future, Sabreen has made tremendous contributions to the betterment of environmental sustainability and social issues.

Rose ThuringerRose Thuringer

Rose Thuringer, CPA, CA

In Rose’s experience, being a generalist doesn't mean you're not an expert: it means you have the flexibility and adaptability to excel in a variety of roles and situations. A versatile, well-rounded leader, Rose knows how to excel in today's constantly changing world.

As PwC’s Products & Technology (P&T) Digital Enablement & Commercialization Leader, she leads a team charged with identifying key points along the PwC value chain that are ripe for transformation through new software and technology.

Through her promotion of innovation and technology, she has helped partners and staff do their work better, faster and smarter, while providing exceptional client experiences.

An avid skier and winter enthusiast, Rose spent time working in London, England as Chief Operating Officer for a ski company. She understands the importance of ensuring winters – and all seasons – will be around for future generations to enjoy. She leads the Vancouver Chapter of the not-for-profit Protect Our Winters (POW) Canada, which advocates for environmental policy solutions.

Rose believes that by taking a leadership role on climate change, she can empower individuals and businesses to help drive the transition to a more sustainable future.

Brenda VethanayagamBrenda Vethanayagam

Brenda Vethanayagam, CPA, CA

An inspiration and a role model to her colleagues, Brenda’s success story began with the role of Associate co-op student at PwC in 2011. Brenda is now a Director in Risk Assurance Services, specializing in SOC reporting.

During her tenure at the firm, she has explored many avenues, including upskilling herself in data analytics. As a member of the national Business Transformation team, Brenda led a team to design, develop, test and launch digital solutions that reimagine the way PwC can audit IT systems, and drives strategic people development initiatives, scaling those solutions nationally across PwC Canada Assurance.

She also leads the risk and controls function of PwC’s Halo Crypto solution, the global tool that supports the auditing of cryptocurrency.

Brenda also finds time in her schedule to serve as a Relationship leader, career coach and CPA Mentor.

She is passionate about coaching and mentoring newcomers to the country. She regularly volunteers her time with organizations dedicated to supporting immigrants looking to enter the workforce.

Brenda's motto throughout her entire professional journey has been "Don't wait for an opportunity, create it yourself." Pursuing her CPA designation has allowed her to create incredible opportunities to pursue meaningful and important work.