Meet Justine Gaskell CPA, CA. A partner here at RLB with a devotion to mathematics. In honour of National STEM/STEAM Day (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), we wanted to share the story of how math shaped her career.
Growing up, Justine was always drawn to numbers. She has a natural aptitude for math and would take every math class available in school. She also enjoyed tutoring younger kids in math for many years. Throughout school, she competed in various math-based competitions and went on to win prestigious titles in provincial divisions. Beyond the classroom and competitions, she found herself looking for patterns and numbers in everyday objects. She loved puzzles, card games and riddles, and still plays them to this day.
With both of her parents working as accountants and her clear connection with numbers, it would seem as though Justine was destined for a life in accounting herself. Despite this supposedly clear path laid out for her, she didn’t initially feel drawn to accounting over other courses. “I have always enjoyed mathematics and numbers and wanted something that would allow me to continue to involve it in my day-to-day life.”
While trying to decide her career path, she met with an advisor and completed multiple aptitude tests. Justine enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University and the Bachelor of Math (BMath) from the University of Waterloo double degree program. Uncertain of exactly where this would lead, she was open to different occupations: accounting, finance, actuary, etc. In the end, accounting aligned more holistically with her business education and was what she grew to enjoy doing the most in her studies. Subsequent to her post-secondary education, she earned her CPA, CA designation.
In her accounting practice, she works with a range of clients in a variety of industries. She loves analyzing results and consulting with clients to meet their business and personal goals. Working as part of a team, she enjoys passing on her analytical skills to the junior team members. She also excels at assisting clients with cash flow projections and assisting business start-ups. She is known on the team for her ability to solve complex calculations and is the go-to for deciphering difficult formulas. (She’s saved many headaches with her superpower!)
Now as a mother, she watches her young sons and wonders if they will follow their mother’s math-loving heart. “Brantley has been doing mental math problems since the age of 4” she beams. “He loves card games of any kind and I remember being the same way as a child.”
What advice does Justine have for anyone looking to make a career out of math? “If you have a passion, whether it’s math or something else, you can follow it.” she says. “My path is different than anyone else’s, even if we all have the same education. Just have an open mind and trust the process.”