This Finance Professional Moved to Canada, Found a Job, Purchased a House and Passed Her CPA, All in a Year

The Finance Story

  • Hi! I am  Kienzle Mody, born and raised in Mumbai (India), a Chartered Accountant from India and a CPA from Canada.
  • We immigrated to Canada in Jan 2017 and my journey so far in Canada can be best described by Carol Dweck’s quote - Love Challenges, Be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy the pain and effort and Keep on learning!
  • Presently, I live in Mississauga, Ontario with my husband and our twin boys. I work as a Finance Manager at Eaton Electrical Canada Company.
  • Here is my journey so far.

Immigrating to Canada

My life in Bangalore was great with an excellent job at Schneider Electric, India.

My husband, Bhavik’s career (he is a Ph.D. in Aerospace) was also going on well but we felt there would be more scope in this field outside of India. So, I convinced my husband to explore opportunities outside of India where Aerospace had a larger scope and presence.

That's when we decided to immigrate to Canada.

We started our immigration process when I was pregnant, expecting our twins. My husband managed the entire immigration process all by himself. No agents, nothing! The whole process took about 14 months to complete.

January 2017. We received the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) with just 20 days to expire (which meant that we had about only 20 days to start a new life in Canada).

We could extend our COPR, but the extension of validity meant delaying our immigration to Canada by another 6 months. And delaying our move would make no sense at all. So, we decided that all four of us (our twins were 11 months then) would travel to Canada and do a soft landing first to complete the PR formalities.

After our soft landing and completing the formalities, I returned to India within two weeks while my husband stayed back in Canada looking for a job. Traveling alone with two infants and that too all by my own, was the most difficult 18 hours of my life!

So, we gave six months to ourselves to move permanently to Canada, which meant that we had to find a job in Canada within six months! Else living in Canada with two infants and without a job would be a very expensive affair.

Fear and Anxiety of Moving To Canada

June 2017. My husband had to come back to India due to a personal emergency. He wanted to go back to Canada, but I was unsure as none of us had a job.

A family in Canada has expenses like rent, food, commutation, daycare expenses etc. to the tune of at least CA$ 2000 a month for the four of us. I was freaking out and immediately started questioning our decision to immigrate.

Was it worth the risk? What will happen if none of us finds a job? We had already spent a fortune on our immigration, tickets for us four, living expenses, and much more.”

However, my husband was determined that it was time we move to Canada together.

I finally agreed to take the risk and resigned from SE India. I started my mandatory notice period of three months at SE.

July 2017. After a month of resigning, thanks to networking and a referral from my French Manager and a Senior Finance leader; I was offered the role of Project Controller at Schneider Electric Canada! And the location was Mississauga, Ontario (close to Toronto). Everything seemed to be falling in place at last. We were so excited and relieved.

Even though the job offered was two steps backward from my current role, I was happy as at least one of us had a secured job in a new country! And we would not be required to start from zero in Canada.

Aug 2017. Finally, on 15th Aug 2017, we moved to Canada! But, were you thinking that was the happy ending? Well, it was the beginning of challenges and the actual journey. Keep reading.

Canada – Wait for us!

August 2017. I had to start work on the 21st of Aug'17 and, my husband had to re-join his internship (unpaid) on the very same day.

During his stay between Feb to May, he had enrolled for free for a bridging program from the Canadian Government. The bridging program gave an opportunity for an internship for six weeks with a company that candidates select by themselves. This is a good stepping stone to gain some Canadian experience and entry to the Canadian job market for newcomers.

This meant that we had five days to find a day-care for kids in a new country, a new city where we had no friends or relatives.

Finding day-care was the first challenge of many to come. We successfully enrolled our kids in a day-care close to office with a price of CA$25 per day per kid (got a CA$5 discount as two were enrolled and the lady was kind).

The most challenging part was returning home to another full-time job of cooking, cleaning, feeding and then preparing for the next day (I really missed my local help back in India). A point to be noted - help services like cooks and cleaners are quite expensive in Canada, costing around CA$ 20 an hour.

Meanwhile, we moved two homes already – two weeks in Airbnb and then two weeks in a basement.

Sep 2017, we finally rented a 1-bed apartment with an open kitchen. A few colleagues from Schneider helped us enormously in settling. We also got some refurbished furniture from furniture banks as part of the Newcomers program.

Oct 2017. My husband completed his internship of 6 weeks and landed an hourly job as a Quality Inspector at an Aerospace company! (A Ph.D. getting an hourly job of data entry on the shop floor – the truth of struggle in Canada!)

Jan 2018. Finally, in Jan, he too got a job with an R&D company with a travel of 55 km one way. The job came by again only through networking.

In fact, both of us got our jobs in Canada through mere networking and connections, so you can imagine the importance of networking in Canada!

The Quest for CPA Begins!

When I was applying for jobs in Canada from my home country (India), I realized that having just an Indian CA qualification would certainly not help with my career progression. And every passing day in the country re-affirmed that belief.

January 2018. I registered for the Canadian CPA without having any thoughts of failure. I made no attempt to understand the pattern of the exam or let the fear of not studying for years take on. However, the pressure of a full-time job and two toddlers weighed heavily on me.

A friend introduced me to a WhatsApp group of CAs preparing for CPA. This group helped me network more in Canada. People in the group were considering coaching classes and had already got books. I had nothing to start with. Luckily, a friend provided me the book for just CA$68.

I slowly started to recollect from my CA days and experience, however, Taxation was still far stretched. Also, once I enrolled for Capstone, the CPA Institute provides you with study materials. That material was useful to me.

#WhatIDid: CPA is a case-based exam. I practiced cases that were provided in Capstone 2 (which was mandatory for Indian CAs in 2018). I studied at night after kids slept after completing all my house chores from 10 pm to 12 or 1 am and used to go to work the next day.

My husband helped me a lot but there were certain things which only I could do! Sometimes for days, I could not study due to scores of tasks. But I NEVER GAVE UP!

Read: What is the Pathway for Indian CAs Seeking Canadian CPA Designation

Rainy Days At Work And Passing CPA At The Right Time

Meanwhile, at work, things were changing rapidly.

October 2018. A new manager was announced for our team in Oct. Working with a new manager was getting very challenging.

November 2018. Finally, on Nov 30, CFE results were out. I had no hopes of passing but probably all the stars aligned looking at my challenges and I passed with flying colors. With a CA$68 book and numerous responsibilities and challenges, I passed CPA in the first attempt without any coaching classes too. I was now qualified as a Canadian CPA.

April 2019. Finally, on April 01, 2019, I started as an Accounting Manager at Eaton in a manufacturing profile which I loved the most.

I was finally starting to believe that we have almost settled in Canada.

“Should I quit my current role and move to Canada for a job hunt?”

After my soft landing in Canada and once back in India, I resumed my current job at Schneider Electric (SE) while my husband continued his job hunt in Canada.

Simultaneously in India, I started scouting within my current company for internal job postings in Canada. (I was lucky enough to be working in an MNC in India with an office in Canada!)

I applied to all the jobs available in finance in any given location within Canada. I did not limit myself to my grade or my level because having a job was the most important motive back then. I applied for a few external jobs as well. Matching the profile of the job was the only criteria I sought initially.

Unfortunately, my job application did not get the desired response! I secured a couple of interviews with recruiters; however, they all said – “No Canadian experience, no Canadian designation and not being physically in Canada yet; then why the job?”

Reality dawned that finding a job in Canada was quite difficult, particularly when you do not have a Canadian designation and Canadian experience and not physically present in Canada.

Feb - Jun 2017. During this time - almost a span of five months, neither of us had been successful in getting a job! It was mentally and emotionally straining. While my husband was still in Canada looking for a good job, I was juggling the family and financial responsibility with support from various family members.

Meanwhile while working at SE, India - I continued to network with finance leaders in Canada and secured a few telephonic interviews. However, no job offers were made yet.

“I need a job in Canada. Where should I start?”

Finding and applying for a job in Canada is a full-time job. Despite having a CPA degree finding a job was not easy and required - NETWORKING.

One can easily get frustrated due to lack of response to a resume.

Canadian jobs are very specific in terms of requirements like Big 4 experience, same industry, among many others. Moreover, not a lot of jobs open at the managerial level. Analyst or Senior Analyst level jobs are easier to come by than at the managerial level.

Also, a lot of jobs on the website get on hold due to varied reasons (more frequent in Canada). For many, internal candidates are already identified. And mostly job posting is a mere formality to meet the HR process.

Moreover, in Canada, resumes are filtered by an auto-filtration tool. Some specific words as mentioned on the job profile if not found on the resume, you will automatically be rejected (without even reaching the hiring manager). Therefore, while applying to every job, a cover letter, modification to resume matching the job is needed.

Besides, the resume could not be more than 2 pages, so a lot of experiences had to be shortened or omitted.

How did I get my job at Eaton? I went on the website and applied for the job and at the same time, they found me on LinkedIn! Therefore, for the Canadian job market, your LinkedIn profile must be up to date with key achievements highlighted specifically.

You can also enroll for a free bridging program from the Canadian Government. The bridging program gave an opportunity for an internship for six weeks with a company that candidates select by themselves. This is a good stepping stone to gain some Canadian experience and entry into the Canadian job market for newcomers.

"Buying a house in Canada in the first year?"

As CPA preparations were on, my determination to move to our own house was picking on me as the rental was very high.

Also, the housing rates in Ontario were on the rise and so getting a house sooner was important.

I used to search for houses and speak with brokers during my lunch break at work and fix up appointments for us to see the house in the evening. Again, networking and finding through friends and acquaintances is the key. Our efforts had no limits or boundary and each day brought its own challenges, but we were determined to sail through.

May 2018. We made an offer for our house, a dream come true. It is a townhouse based on our budget.

But in Canada, a lot of processes are involved like finding a broker, mortgage approval, lawyer appointment for closing, down payment, home inspection to highlight issues in the house, age of proof, furnace, flooring, etc.

Buyers and sellers do not meet for negotiations or closing. All the steps from offer to closing are between brokers, mortgage agents, banks and the lawyer’s office. The bank does not dispense the fund to the buyer, it instead goes to the lawyer’s account who deals with the sellers’ lawyer.

The keys to the house also come to the lawyer’s office and not directly to the buyer.

August 2018. We got the keys on Aug 15, 2018 (our Canada move’s 1st  anniversary). I did not plan it to the date, but it just turned out that way. Finally, we seem to have settled in the new country!

“Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it.”

Au Revoir...

It has been only a couple of years since we have moved to Canada but I am glad that we made the move while we were young, open to learning and full of energy and belief.

We learned a lot of lessons along the journey and are still learning every day – the Canadian working culture, tone of the language,  integrating ourselves with this beautiful country, and much more.

“It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. There would be no rainbows without sunshine and rain.”

Now It's Your Turn!

Have you considered immigrating to Canada? Or are you already in Canada?

Comment below and let me know.

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