With the ink drying on his Master of Public Administration degree, Donny van Dyk took a job with the district municipality of New Hazleton, B.C., about two hours north of where he grew up in Terrace. It was an ideal start to his career.
In the four years he was there, he progressed from deputy administrator to chief administrative officer, while dedicating his evenings and weekends to becoming a Certified Management Accountant. New Hazelton is also where he met his current employer, Enbridge Inc., which, at the time, was advancing its Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal to connect Alberta’s bitumen to the West Coast and international markets.
In its meetings with New Hazelton, Enbridge got a sense of van Dyk’s ability to engage in meaningful dialogue both in the boardroom and in the community. So, in 2013, when Enbridge needed a manager of coastal Aboriginal and community relations, it offered van Dyk the position.
“I had a couple great years in Kitimat. I was our campaign manager for the plebiscite,” he says.
Van Dyk’s group probably knocked on a couple thousand doors in that campaign. In the end, however, the residents of Kitimat voted against the multi-billion-dollar Northern Gateway by a margin of 58.4 per cent to 41.6 per cent.
Despite the disappointing outcome, van Dyk’s career at Enbridge was already well-rooted. He took on a new role as manager of B.C. community relations in Prince George—where he met his fiancée—and later added responsibilities as manager of corporate services.
Donny van Dyk is one of the Fluor/Oilweek 2018 Rising Stars. To read all of their stories, click here.
With the prospects for the Northern Gateway scuttled by the Trudeau government, Enbridge offered van Dyk the job of government affairs for B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Based in Calgary, he’s now working on the Line 3 Replacement Project and major Enbridge expansions.
“They’re all really large projects. They’re all unique and exciting…. But it’s a tragedy really that Northern Gateway didn’t have the opportunity to get built,” he says longingly.
Having grown up in a large family and having worked in small-town Canada, van Dyke knows first-hand how important infrastructure projects and resource development are to these communities. Equally important in remote areas that often struggle economically is providing quality local higher education.
“Northwest B.C. was hit very hard over the years economically so when I considered how to spend my volunteer hours, I chose to serve on the Northwest Community College board, which was the college I attended after high school,” van Dyk says.
In fact, all three of his brothers attended the Northwest Community College as well.
“We’ve all been very lucky to have this really outstanding educational opportunity at our doorstep,” he says.
Van Dyk’s other community work aligns with education but also includes his passion for commerce. He coached the University of Northern British Columbia’s JDC West team between 2009 and 2011, in 2015 and 2016. These commerce competitions typically involve about 10 case teams and 50 student competitors.
“When I was at the University of Northern British Columbia in 2007, I competed and was successful in winning the accounting championship, so coaching was a lot of fun,” he says.
Education: Diploma in Business Administration, Northwest Community College (now Coast Mountain College), 2005; Bachelor of Commerce, University of Northern British Columbia, 2007; Master of Public Administration, University of Victoria, 2009; Certified Management Accountants of British Columbia, 2011
Favourite charity: Katie's Place Animal Shelter, Bird Studies Canada, United Way
First job: Gas station attendant (a humble beginning in the industry)
If not for your career, what would you be doing: I’m fortunate to work in a field I’m passionate about, but on my retirement to-do list is to start a travel podcast and begin blogging about my experiences searching for the perfect chicken wing.
Best advice received: Epictetus summarizes it best: “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
Favourite pastime: Golfing
Favourite book: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
Other interests/passions: Running, reading, playing cards, travelling, and cheering for the Vancouver Canucks & Toronto Blue Jays