By Matt Gergyek
Photos by Chris Roussakis

When Master of Accounting graduate Philip Mateo reflects back on his time at Carleton, two words stand out to him: compassion and understanding.

As a father of three trying to complete his master’s degree, while simultaneously navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Mateo. He recalls a particularly stressful period when his son was born in the middle of a busy semester.

Philip Mateo

Philip Mateo

“I was up until one or two in the morning finishing up course work, and then my son was born at four or five in the morning,” says Mateo.

“I remember messaging my professor, telling him what was happening, and he was so accommodating—I’m so grateful for that and for his understanding.”

Mateo says this kind of response from professors in the Sprott School of Business was the norm during his degree.

“My accounting professors really understood what students are experiencing,” says Mateo. “They’re listening and they’re making sure that our well-being is taken care of.”

Mateo, who was born and raised in the Philippines, lived across the globe before immigrating to Canada to study at Carleton. For his undergraduate degree, Mateo studied accounting and business administration at Brigham Young University in Hawaii, where he met his wife. Together, they moved around between Japan and the Philippines, where they decided to start a family.

While in the Philippines, Mateo began to build up experience in accounting and finance, working for both Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). But with his family growing, Mateo says he wanted to move to a place where he could further his education.

For Mateo and his family, landing somewhere in Canada was the obvious choice.

“It’s a melting pot of cultures, we felt so welcomed and accepted,” he says. “Canada is now our home.”

Mateo says the Master of Accounting program at Carleton helped prepare him well to be integrated into the corporate environment in Canada. “They really trained me how to strategically navigate through the profession and opened my eyes to all the opportunities in accounting and finance,” he says.

Through his degree, Mateo worked as an accountant at Firas Nasser Professional Corporation (FNPC), an Ottawa-based accounting, tax and advisory firm specializing in small businesses. After finishing his studies over the summer, Mateo is now reconnecting his career with PwC, where he will be working closely with both Canadian and international firms.

“I love that connection,” he says, “I love that I get to be a part of the solution for the client.” Five or 10 years down the road, he hopes to take on a more senior management and consulting role at his firm and to have his family more settled in Canada.

Mateo’s advice for incoming Carleton students? Challenges are a part of life, and you need to learn from them.

“Everyone has a plan in life, but there are always going to be some hiccups,” says Mateo.

“You have to grow from these challenges to become a better person and to better appreciate the things you accomplished.”

An accountant using a calculator

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