Do something that counts
Volunteer. Problem solver. Tax titan.
Michelle Malin may not have fantasized about being an accountant when she grew up—she didn’t dress up in power suits or play with calculators as a little girl—but that doesn’t mean she didn’t end up with her dream job.
I was like most kids—I dreamed of becoming everything from a rock star to a forensic psychologist to a veterinarian,” Michelle smiles. “But I love what I do. It’s not something I’d ever considered, but I ended up in a career I love.”
The assistant professor in accounting is the first to admit her career choice was based more on pragmatism than passion, and she’s 100 per cent cool with that. In her recent presentation for the School of Business NextUp series, she told students that it’s okay to not follow passion—just bring it with you.
“ Accounting isn’t all numbers; it’s also working with people.”
“I made practical choices—I chose accounting for income earning potential and job security. And once I got into the field, I found some areas that interested me and ended up doing some things I’m really passionate about.”
Michelle says that the stereotype of an accountant as someone stuck in a room poring over revenues and expenses, income statements and balance sheets doesn’t tell the whole story. Michelle loves the problem-solving part of her profession, and the challenge of applying her understanding of the rules to fit various situations. She also loves helping people.
“Accounting isn’t all numbers; it’s also working with people. I specialized in tax because I love problem-solving, but I also really enjoyed the client-accountant relationship. The clients really value the services you’re providing for them.”
Her decision to specialize in tax accounting was a difficult one; she worried she would close off career opportunities by focusing on one area. It turned out the opposite was true. That decision to specialize eventually led to teaching, and a volunteer position as treasurer on the board for the Edmonton Women’s Shelter (WIN House)—two roles she loves that feed her passion for her career.
“I like teaching for the same reason I like tax—the problem solving. I like to figure out how to take these complex subjects and break them down into understandable pieces. And I’m always amazed by students and their thirst for knowledge, their ability to comprehend these complex topics and their passion.”
As for her treasurer position for WIN House, Michelle feels it’s important to connect with the community and help where you can, and she’s passionate about encouraging accounting students to get involved with not-for-profit organizations as a way to give back to the community.
“You get to use your accounting skills to help an organization that really does some amazing things. WIN House saves people’s lives, and I get to be a part of that because of my accounting skills.