Dylan Anderson always remembers saving.
The alumnus of MHC’s business administration program learned the value of a dollar at a young age, but never imagined that he would one day have a career in accounting, much less be an associate in a leading firm before he turned 30.
Anderson describes his upbringing as modest, but says his parents made up for their lack of material possessions by giving him and his brother something more important.
“Our parents were good at teaching us the value of hard work. They couldn’t give us things but they taught us how to save,” says Anderson who, as a child, was paid $20/month for helping his parents with their janitorial services. “That might be where my financial and accounting background all started.”
Anderson had his first real job at the age of 10, delivering newspapers in his hometown of Eston, Saskatchewan. He remembers the importance of good bookkeeping even then.
“If I didn’t keep good books, I would have to write the Star Phoenix a cheque. That was money out of my pocket.”
He quickly added another paper route and two years later, also had a job delivering groceries to customers’ vehicles at the Co-Op. He dropped the paper routes when he was 14 and started another job at the local restaurant and was working up to 30 hours per week.
School didn’t hold much interest for Anderson at the time, but working and vehicles did. His strong work ethic enabled him to purchase his first truck at age 14 – a 1988 Chevy truck.
“After I graduated from high school, I got in my truck, turned on “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, and headed to Medicine Hat,” remembers Anderson. With no intention of returning to a classroom, he landed a sandblasting job in the oilfield and was content for a while, but later found himself drawn to the business side of the operation.
Knowing he would have to further his education to find his place in the business world, but not knowing how he was going to pay for it, he met with a career advisor at MHC and enrolled in business administration accounting program in 2007.
“When I started the program I knew if I was going to do this, I was going to go all the way. College was different. In high school I was maybe too naïve to understand that it was important, whereas going to college or university I was there because I made the decision to be there.”
Anderson recalls sitting in class with a backwards ball cap, still wearing his steel toe boots. “I definitely stuck out from the business world,” he says with a smile. “There was no suit and tie for me.”
In his second semester, he attended the Connecting Students to Business dinner, an annual event that provides students an opportunity to network with local business leaders. He went in motivated with high hopes of finding a steady job to help pay for school.
“I remember sitting at the table, feeling very nervous. Half of us were students so that wasn’t bad, but the other half were very successful people. It was intimidating.”
One of those successful business people came over to the table, announced his company wasn’t hiring so students shouldn’t bother asking, and sat down.
“I was actually really relieved. The pressure was off and I was able to relax. The next thing I know, I’m being introduced to the general manager of Meggitt,” says Anderson. He must have made a good impression because he was offered a job the following Monday. “They asked if I had steel toe boots, which was funny because I was wearing them all the time.”
Although the position was not in his field, Anderson soon had an opportunity to demonstrate his aptitude for accounting. His valuable advice on a matter led to a permanent position in Meggitt’s finance department.
Back at MHC, he started his commerce degree while finishing up his accounting diploma. Offered by Athabasca University onsite and through distance learning, the degree option usually requires an additional two years of school following the completion of a diploma program, but Anderson was determined to shorten that timeline. He worked through a course every three weeks and would sometimes be writing his mid-term and final on the same day.
The days were long but the hard work paid off. Anderson finished his commerce degree in just one year. Knowing he would have to move to a public firm to continue his education, he met his next employer – JMH&CO. Chartered Professional Accountants – at another Connecting Students to Business event.
Trading his ball cap and boots for a suit and tie, Anderson no longer stuck out from the business world. As the firm's new farm expert, he began the lengthy process of completing his professional designation. In 2013, he became a Chartered Professional Accountant and in 2016, was named an associate at JMH&CO.
Now when Anderson attends a college networking event, he is someone who students are looking up to as a successful business leader - whether he feels he deserves the recognition or not.