Serving the community

CPAs can be found in every industry, being experts at more than numbers – and they’re great with those, too.

Every month, CPA Manitoba spotlights the diverse and dedicated professionals that prove CPA is more than a designation. 

Our flood responses from 2011 and 2014 were powerful experiences, ones that I won’t soon forget.

In July of 2014, the City of Brandon declared a state of local emergency as a very unusual summer rain system swelled the Assiniboine River up and over its banks. Dean Hammond, CPA, CMA, Treasurer and General Manager of Corporate Services for the City of Brandon, was up in a helicopter to survey the area and help lead the City’s emergency response efforts.

“Our flood responses from 2011 and 2014 were powerful experiences, ones that I won’t soon forget,” explains Hammond.

Although Hammond has served the City of Brandon for the last seven years with his accounting and business background, he wasn’t always sure that the accounting path was right for him.

“I started working for my family’s business when I was 14-years old and worked there until I completed university. It was such a great experience. I learned so much about customer service, our community and business in general. I knew from that point on that I wanted to do something business related,” says Hammond.

After graduating from Neelin High School, he went on to complete his Bachelor of Business Administration at Brandon University, where he was originally interested in a marketing career. “I didn’t like accounting at the start,” Hammond recalls with a laugh.

“But when I got into some of the senior level courses in university, I grew fonder of it, especially accounting in a manufacturing setting. That interested me.”

Following university, he worked as a parts manager in an agriculture supply store. After a few years, Hammond was looking for a new challenge and wanted to reconnect with accounting in a manufacturing environment. He found an opportunity at Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon.

“It was around this time that I knew that I wanted to do more with my education. I considered going back to university, but pursuing an accounting designation stood out to me. I’m so glad I made that choice.”

Dean worked at Maple Leaf Foods for 10 years in a variety of roles and received his designation in 2009. While at Maple Leaf Foods, he specialized in Six Sigma strategies, which were implemented to improve the lean manufacturing processes and helped provide continuous improvement at the plant.

“My finance and Six Sigma roles allowed me to work on many great projects -- It was a really good experience. I got the complete picture of how the facility worked and learned how my accounting skills could help to improve business efficiency,” says Hammond.

In fact, that experience helped him get a position with the City of Brandon in 2011. As the Treasurer and General Manager of Corporate Services, he is responsible for a wide variety of departments, including Finance, Information Technology, Emergency Communications (Provincial 9-1-1), and Risk and Emergency Management.

The CPA designation is powerful and it can take you wherever you want to go.

“In addition to my own departments, the role is very much about providing leadership to other departments and to provide strategic planning for the organization. With regard to risk and emergency management, the importance of planning and preparedness in this role is extremely critical as it’s more than just numbers - it's accountability for the safety of a city population over 50,000 people.”

If disaster strikes, he and other city teams are prepared.

"In an emergency scenario, my accounting hat goes out the window and I become the Director of Emergency Social Services, which means I’m helping to coordinate with our emergency response partners in the event that evacuations are needed.” Hammond knows what it takes to help his community in an emergency, having already experienced the 2011 and 2014 flood responses, as well as the 2018 fires which engulfed Brandon’s downtown area. It was during the 2014 flood that Hammond went up in the helicopter to capture video and photo footage of the impact.

 

 

“We needed video for our flood response planning, but we also wanted to show the rest of the world how big of an issue we were facing.”

While it’s unpleasant for some to think of worst-case scenarios, Hammond’s role requires him to study them in detail. Those plans include not only the immediate responses but also other considerations like how the city will rebuild in the months and years afterward.

 

Hammond’s role requires him to study them in detail. Those plans include not only the immediate responses but also other considerations like how the city will rebuild in the months and years afterward.

“You can’t control things like the weather, but the reality is you plan and prepare for situations, and then conduct practice scenarios,” adds Hammond.

The city's motto is 'Serving and Building Community' and I take that to heart - I want to see it become even better.

No matter what the role requires him to do, Hammond’s focus always come back to what’s in the best interest of the community. For him, assisting with annual budgets, liaising with city council members and working on various city projects is more than just a job, it’s the ability to help Brandon grow.

“My wife and I have lived in Brandon all our lives, so of course it’s our home too. The city’s motto is ‘Serving and Building Community', and I take that to heart - I want to see it become even better."

 

 

Having a CPA designation has helped Hammond create an engaging career while serving his community.

"There’s so much diversity in the accounting world. I’ve worked in manufacturing and now in government. I always tell people that I can have my steel toe boots on and be down at the landfill working on a project in the morning and then in the afternoon, I’m with the water utility team working on something completely different. The CPA designation is powerful and can take you wherever you want to go.”

His advice for future CPAs? “Figure out what it is you like doing and where you want to work. Regardless of what role you may have, your accounting designation will serve you well and help you achieve your goals. You’re going to have a rewarding career.”