Riley Daku, CPA
Making a Difference in the Community
March 8, 2021
Like Riley Daku, CPA, many professional accountants work in not-for-profits, leveraging their unique skills to tackle various environmental, economic, and social challenges. The CPA skill set is highly sought after in the not-for-profit industry, where financial knowledge is critical to ensuring sustainable, positive impacts on society.
“Because I was so young, so new in my career, and with little management experience, it is very unlikely I would have been considered for my current position without my CPA designation to set me apart.”
Riley Daku, CPA is the Director of Operations at the YWCA Saskatoon, a community-based charity that provides preventative and emergent services to women, men, and children in Saskatoon. These services include a crisis shelter and residence, a child development centre, education programs, and employment programs.
As an Arts and Science major at the University of Saskatchewan, Riley never planned to become an accountant. She transferred to the Edwards School of Business to pursue career opportunities in business. Riley landed a summer position working in audit at a public accounting firm, which transitioned to a full-time job upon graduation. Riley earned her CPA designation in 2017, and then, when the YWCA Saskatoon was hiring a Director of Operations, she took a chance and applied.
“The person I owe my current career to, who saw some potential in me and took a risk hiring a 25-year-old Director of Operations, said the reason she hired me was based on one of my interview questions. When asked why I wanted to work for the YWCA Saskatoon, I said that I wanted to take the skills I learned through my CPA designation and my background in audit and apply it to an industry that I am passionate about and can make a difference in.”
Riley's responsibilities are diverse. Creating sustainable positive impacts can be a challenge for many not-for-profits, who often rely on grants, charitable donations, and revenues from their services, to operate. However, Riley credits the skills that she developed during the CPA program with allowing her to manage her diverse responsibilities - from financial and budgetary oversight to event planning and media relations, and much, much more.
Riley would like aspiring CPAs to know that there is much more to being a CPA than people might think.
“Every major decision that is made in any business needs analysis to support it. As a CPA you can choose to work in any industry because your skills are always needed… Accounting can lead you down so many different paths, so don't let the myth of what it means to be an accountant deter you from following the path you've chosen.”