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Phone: 519-661-2111, ext. 84959

This newsletter has been made possible through a generous donation from CGA Ontario.

Certified General Accountants of Ontario

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Fall 2012

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Making accounting come alive

Agnes Chan

Maria Ferraro is quick to point out that she never intended to be an academic. Yet she is a popular accounting professor in Western’s DAN Program and has been honoured as the CGA Professorship in Accounting (made possible through a generous gift from CGA Ontario).

Ferraro grew up in London, Ont., the daughter of immigrants who valued education. Unsure of her future as a young woman, Ferraro began studying for her CGA designation. “I thought it would give me some skills to get a job,” says Ferraro, who quickly discovered a love and talent for the field.

Starting as an accounting clerk in a law firm, Ferraro joined a larger corporation for several years, and then moved into the hospitality industry. Before long she had become the “trouble-shooter” for a hotel chain, travelling across the U.S. to help with acquisitions, divestitures, training and much more. “For eight years I was doing everything, learning about everything. It was great, but eventually I came to a point where I couldn’t keep travelling so much.”

She accepted a one-year teaching contract at Western, which has stretched into seven years of deeply satisfying teaching.

Ferraro admits that many students have misconceptions about accounting. She starts her first-year accounting course by pointing out to students there are no TV shows or movies about dashing accountants who save the day. But she persuades them that accounting is relevant, valuable and always changing. “By breaking down concepts into their most basic components and relating them to my experience, I aim to bring the subject alive,” she says.

The CGA Ontario gift to the DAN Program announced in the autumn of 2012 has been used in a variety of ways, Ferraro says. She has created three accounting theory awards to recognize success in student research projects. In addition, funding is available for students to receive career counselling and tuition waivers to start their CGA courses, and for faculty members to upgrade their skills.

“The gift from CGA Ontario is having a huge impact,” she says. “Students and faculty members are benefiting.”

Above all, Ferraro says the Professorship is helping make students more aware of the CGA option. “There are many paths to success in life. I’ve been a CGA for a long time, and it’s opened a lot of doors for me.”