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Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Dylan Van Rooyen

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Dylan Van Rooyen, vice-president of the Surrey Fire Fighters Association, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

My proudest career achievement is my ongoing role as a four-term elected executive officer of the Surrey Fire Fighters Association and Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, where I currently serve as vice-president. This position has allowed me to actively engage with the community and contribute to over 85 significant charitable initiatives. Collaborating with a dedicated team of career professionals who volunteer countless hours has been both inspiring and motivational. This role has reinforced my commitment to making a positive impact in our community and continues to be a source of immense pride and fulfillment in my career.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

During my ownership of Code Red First Aid Training amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a pivotal decision had to be made. We had to choose between swiftly developing an online training platform to replace traditional in-person training or temporarily suspending operations. We opted for the former, demonstrating adaptability and a commitment to providing life-saving skills in uncharted territory. Additionally, overseeing a charitable society heavily reliant on events, we had to innovate to continue raising nearly $1 million annually, showcasing resilience and dedication to our mission.

How do you lead?

In my leadership style, I prioritize assertiveness and pragmatism while remaining committed to achieving results. However, I also place a strong emphasis on people-focused leadership. To me, leadership signifies empowering individuals, setting clear goals and skillfully guiding the team towards success. My leadership approach is results-driven, ensuring efficient, resolute task completion while also fostering personal and professional growth among team members.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

The most significant lesson I've learned in business is the importance of resiliency. Not everything proceeds as planned, and achieving results necessitates a continuous evaluation of outcomes and a willingness to adapt. It's advantageous to have an alternate plan ready if the initial approach doesn't yield the desired results. Adaptability and the ability to persevere in the face of setbacks are key to long-term success in the business world.

Best piece of advice ever received?

The best advice I've received is to extract valuable insights from ineffective leaders and less-than-ideal work experiences. By discerning what went awry and comprehending the underlying factors, I've been able to incorporate contrasting qualities into my leadership style. This approach often leads to a more positive and productive work environment, marked by open communication, empathy and collaborative teamwork. It serves as a reminder to lead by example and be the leader that you wanted.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

If I could advise my 20-year-old self, I'd say: Work diligently, maintain your focus, don't fret over minor details, concentrate on the bigger picture and the ultimate objectives, and never allow negative influences or individuals to obstruct your path towards achieving your goals.

What's left to accomplish?

My passion for community work is a field that keeps me motivated to continue making a positive impact. There will always be opportunities to enhance and expand our efforts, whether it's through supporting new initiatives, reaching more individuals or addressing evolving community needs. The goal is to keep striving for a stronger, more connected and resilient community, making it a never-ending yet fulfilling task.

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.