By Glenda McCarthy
When Adam Anderson was deciding what to pursue as a career during his last year of high school, he wasn’t focused on starting his own business or having people in his employ. His goal was finding something he was passionate about.
As a young boy Adam spent a lot of time in the woods exploring with his father and taking part in activities such as hiking, hunting and fishing. Although he knew he had a love of the great outdoors, he wasn’t sure how to leverage that into a career.
He knew several people who had gone through CNA’s Forest Resources Technician program so he set up a meeting to speak to its instructors about the program – a meeting that solidified his direction.
“A major question I asked myself was, did I want to get into a five-year university program right away that I may or may not like a year down the road? CNA was an opportunity for me to become a technician after two years, and if it was something I wasn’t that interested in, then it was two years in and I actually had something to show from it rather than be two years in at university and leave with nothing.”
Adam started in the Forest Resources Technician program in 2000. As it turns out, he loved the program, and upon graduating went to work right away in various forest technician jobs in places like Northern Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia. After some real-world experience, he realized he loved the work and decided to make it his full-time career.
His next step was returning to post-secondary, enrolling in the University of New Brunswick (UNB), where he says the two years at CNA gave him a leg up over some of his classmates.
“The technical skills you gain at the college are so beneficial. When it came to implementing field programs in the university setting, a lot of people didn’t have the technical experience like the practical hands-on experience that I had coming out of CNA. I, and some of the people who did similar programs at tech schools, took the lead and showed people how to use the tools and how to do the surveys because they just hadn’t had that practical experience.”
Adam graduated from UNB in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and then took a position in Northern Ontario, but he eventually ended up back in his home town of Corner Brook after several years outside the province.
“When I started working in the forest industry in Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland, I saw some things I thought could be done a little differently or ways managing practices could be changed.”
Adams says he couldn’t see how to make changes in the industry with any of the positions he was being offered. That, and a push from a former employer, led him to start his own company.
“A boss I had at one point saw something in me and said, ‘You should really look at starting something up in Newfoundland because you have a lot of good ideas.’ That’s what I did as soon as that contract finished.”
That’s when he discovered Navigate, a business consulting service designed to address the needs of potential entrepreneurs in the pre start-up phase of business development, connecting individuals with resources, programs and agencies that can help.
A year after graduating from UNB, Adam opened his consulting firm Resource Innovations. His company focuses on providing forest management and planning services which promote healthy forest ecosystems, sustainability and environmental stewardship.
“One thing I love is the constant ability to learn something new every day. It seems like every day something new comes up that we didn’t think about or there’s something that I need to go learn; whether it’s a new project, hiring new a staff member, or dealing with some project related issue or a software failure,” he says.
The leap of faith to start a business has paid off for Adam and it allows him the opportunity to provide careers for young professionals here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The company employs 13 people full-time, with the majority located at the Corner Brook office, while others operate out of an office in in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Staffing numbers can fluctuate, depending on the project, but Adam says at one point they employed 50 people.
Adam says when he’s looking for new employees he often times looks for CNA alumni. Of his 13 employees, nine are graduates from CNA’s Forest Resources Technician, GIS Applications Specialist and Fish and Wildlife Technician programs – all programs that are exclusive to Corner Brook campus.
“For a number of years, even when we were running the business, there were no opportunities for young professionals like myself which was part of the reason we started the business. Now we have 13 people and all are relatively recent graduates. It’s a young, vibrant team.”
With over a decade of experience under his belt, Adam is passing his knowledge on to new entrepreneurs. His experience with the Navigate program was so essential to his journey that Adam now sits on the board of directors. And while his business continues to grow, Adam has carved out time to develop some of his other innovative business ideas.
“I always had a lot of ideas in my head – some whacky and some that seemed to apply. The more education I received, the more the ideas applied to real world and actual working scenarios. I’m running a consulting firm but I’m still acting on other ideas. CNA helped to foster my entrepreneurial spirit and thought processes by providing a solid educational foundation in the natural resources sector. It really helped me to focus on and implement business ideas that promote sustainable management of our natural resources, and gave me the foundation necessary to start and grow a successful consulting firm.”