A degree in psychology and economics is an unusual starting point for a career with one of the world’s top accounting firms, but unsurprisingly, it was the perfect background for Wayne McFarlane, an Executive-in-Residence at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.
“My friends were all joining accounting firms when we graduated from university, so I talked my way into an interview,” he said. Once on the job, he took courses for three summers before sitting for the Chartered Accountancy exam. Even for many accounting majors, it’s a challenging test, and people often take it two or three times before succeeding. Not McFarlane: he passed it on the first try.
Despite his skill in accounting, his interests lay elsewhere: in human resources, dealing with people, not with formulas. He blended the two talents and forged a career path that he loved: working in human resources for an accounting firm, first as the Human Capital director for the Toronto region, and finally, Canada-wide. His job took him all over the world, and he helped put together the global merger that blended Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse into PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). McFarlane remained with PwC as Human Capital Leader until his retirement in 2005.
At TRSM, McFarlane focuses on coaching Ted Rogers MBA students and undergraduate students in the Top 200 program. They get the benefit of his extensive business and human resources experience, as well as the people skills that made his stellar career so enjoyable. McFarlane also facilitates strategic partnerships between TRSM and industry. Another area of focus at TRSM is McFarlane’s work to engage top tier employers with MBA Careers team and the Business Career Hub. He sits as a Senior Fellow at the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre and is also a member of TRSM’s School of Accounting and Finance Advisory Council.
“I think Ryerson is absolutely special, and I wish I had gone to school here,” he said. “The students are solidly taught and they are ready to hit the ground running when they graduate.”
McFarlane believes building a personal brand and networking is the way of the future for job seekers. He is eager to help students, especially new and first-generation Canadians, find their way in the working world.
“There are young people coming from all parts of the world,” he said. “I want to help the students assimilate into our Canadian business culture in both the public and private sectors and I feel fortunate to be able to coach the next generation of leaders.”