CFO/Managing Director, Finance and Accounting at McInnes Cooper
Class of 1997 - Business Accounting
Joselyn Legge is a self-described 'hockey mom.' She also happens to be the Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director of Finance and Accounting with McInnes Cooper, one of Canada's most prominent law firms.
Originally from Sussex NB, now residing in Halifax, NS, her career path includes CPA and CGA designations and a 25-year career in finance, but it all started with a two-year NBCC Business Accounting Program. Joselyn took some time to share her story, advice, and memories of NBCC.
What attracted you to the NBCC accounting program? What were your goals at the time?
When I was growing up, money was tight for our family, so I researched all of my options. While my parents supported me where possible, I looked at how I could achieve my accounting designation – whether at the time it was CA, CGA or CMA. At the time, the CGA program was the direction that I embarked on. My goal – when I entered post-secondary – was to obtain my accounting designation and further my career in the accounting field while taking on as minimal of student debt as possible.
Entering NBCC, allowed me to condense my schooling to two years of solid in-class learning and the opportunity for a work term.
Describe your career path since leaving NBCC. Did it follow the goals you had at the beginning of your program?
When it came time to the work term at the end of my program, I was given the opportunity to interview with Deloitte (Deloitte & Touche at the time), along with several of my classmates. I was successful in obtaining that work term, and it changed my life. Upon completion of my work term and successful completion of the college program, I was hired full-time by Deloitte out of the Saint John office. I was able to start my CGA designation that September and would continue on to complete it while working with Deloitte.
From Deloitte, I have worked with Atlantic Canadian small businesses, that were lead by entrepreneurs that afforded me the ability to work in the business industry, not just finance. I learned everything from how to construct and finance a fitness facility to how to obtain product recall insurance – and everything in between. I also had the great fortune of working in the pharmacy division of national grocer. That allowed me to sharpen my skills in managing large teams, internal audits, financial and management reporting, and operations of both an Atlantic Canadian and National pharmacy operation while being mentored by some incredible leaders.
All of that experience has led me to the role I have today as the Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director, Finance and Accounting for McInnes Cooper, one of Canada's 25 largest business law firms. This role is one where I am able to take my training from college and combine it with 25 years of broad experience and strong mentorship and apply it as a member of the Firm Wide Management Team and the leader of a team of 16 individuals across Atlantic Canada. No day is ever the same for me – I could be working on complex regulatory reporting or working on the budget, or looking at how to add value with an innovation project.
I'm not sure if I would say my career path followed my goals completely, but what I would say is that the foundation that I received at NBCC and the opportunity I received from my work term and subsequent placement set me on a course that allowed me to get to where I am today.
How did that NBCC Business Accounting program prepare you for the career you have today?
The NBCC program was a practical program – I took courses that set me up for the real world and gave me the foundational knowledge to be able to continue to learn. The instructors had practical knowledge of the business world, which helped to build realistic expectations of what life on the other side of college would look like.
What are your favourite memories of NBCC?
While my time at NBCC was almost 25 years ago, I keep a photo album of my time at NBCC that I look at from time to time with my kids. When I look at that album, I am reminded of the wonderful classmates and the fun times we had (in and outside of school) and the instructors who were experienced in the world of business. I still think of some of the instructors today and the things that they taught me.
What advice would you give to a student entering The Business Accounting program?
Be curious and ask questions.
What advice would you give to a student graduating from an NBCC program?
Don't be afraid to work outside of your comfort zone. Look for opportunities within your workplace that allow you to see the business from a non-accounting lens. These opportunities will pay dividends in the future.
What is the most important thing you learned at NBCC? How has it impacted your life since college?
During my time at NBCC, I learned that asking questions, being curious and thinking outside of the box would benefit my career. I learned that I could do anything I wanted and that my college education would be the foundation to this. Today, I hold a senior role within a large law firm, working with talented people all across Atlantic Canada – every day is different, and it is exactly what I love to do.
My oldest son Jordan is graduating from high school this year. In looking at what he wanted to do after high school, he made the decision to attend NSCC and has been accepted into the Culinary Management Program. He has heard how the community college program, whether it be New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, provides practical hands-on learning and that he can be achieving his dream of travelling the world working in the culinary industry by the time he is 20.
Why was NBCC the right choice for you?
NBCC allowed me to gain practical knowledge in a two-year period, minimizing my student debt, and setting me up to have graduated and to be enrolled in the CGA program at the age of 19 – a great kickstart to my career. I look at where I am at today and how my hard work has paid off. I have a job that I love, surrounded by mentors that I learn from every day and the ability to give back to my community. While I am a hockey mom, cheering on both of my sons at every opportunity, I am also the President of the TASA Minor Hockey Association – allowing me to give back to my community.