Tara (McLean) McQuade – Alumni Success Story

March 16, 2022

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Tara (McLean) McQuade – Alumni Success Story

Tara (McLean) McQuade

Bachelor of Business Administration, Class of 2015

I started out at Crandall during the winter of 2012 after barely passing a first semester science course at another University. Realizing that a science degree was not in the cards for me, I decided to give the business program at Crandall a try. I knew several accountants who landed jobs immediately after graduation, and it seemed like a safe choice given my love for math.

Little did I know that professor Heather Steeves would both terrify me that first year and also light a fire in me! She encouraged me to do my very best in all things accounting. She is the kind of person that demands respect without ever asking for it. She made me want to do better, learn more, and be prepared. There were many late nights catching up to other students who already had a semester under their belt, but I never felt alone. That is the best part about Crandall – it’s like a family. For better or worse, the faculty is truly there for you. I never felt like I was bothering someone with a question or a stop by their office for help with a project. They take an interest in you as a person, wanting you to leave Crandall with more than just a piece of paper.

I had several Crandall business professors come together to help me land a co-op term at Grant Thornton in Moncton, which ultimately led to full-time employment there upon graduating in 2015. It was there that I started the CPA program, and also met my husband. Yes – my world is filled with accountants.

Completing the CPA program while working full-time in public practice is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I think I would rather give birth again than re-write the CFE, just to put things in perspective. I know for a fact that my passing of the CFE, earning the highest mark in New Brunswick and being among the top 1% in Canada, can be linked back to my time at Crandall. At least 90% of the credit goes to the professors there and the phenomenal case-based approached they have built the business program on. From your first Intro Business course to final days of Advanced Accounting, you work on cases constantly. All of this practice prepares you for what the CFE requires – the ability to think critically, articulate effectively, and provide a practical solution to the issues at hand. The other 10% of the credit goes to our goldendoodle, Dexter. There is truly no better de-stressor than puppy snuggles!

I moved on from public practice to work for Major Drilling, a public company whose head office is in Moncton. I worked as a Financial Analyst, moving into the Controller role, and made lasting friendships, my network of accountants growing stronger. During my time at Major Drilling, I was able to visit different parts of Canada and learn a great deal about mining, financial reporting, and strategy. They supported me when I had my daughter, Olivia, and I feel lucky to have spent 4 years with them.

Recently, an opportunity came up to work at Mount Allison University as Assistant Controller. This role sparked my interest as I feel passionate about the experience I had at Crandall University. I knew the impact that my university experience had on my future, and I wanted to be a part of that process for other students! That personal connection is the best part of being an accountant. It’s not what most people picture when I tell them what I do. Sure, I sit behind a desk and excel is my best friend, but I also get to travel, talk to people in all different fields about their financial concerns and help resolve them, and am constantly learning.

I am also very thankful that Crandall helped get me to where I am today. If I could go back, I would not do a single thing different when it comes to my education. I am so thankful that I nearly failed Biology, because it brought me to Crandall University and ultimately led to my career and family. I would not change that for the world.

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