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Forty under 40 Award winner profile: David van Hemmen

Vice-president, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

BIV is proud to recognize David van Hemmen, vice-president of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and 39 exceptional business leaders with 2022 Forty under 40 Awards.

Each recipient is featured in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine, and will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 22. Profiles of each award recipient – originally published in the magazine – will be available at in the days ahead.

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

Likely my Dutch Protestant heritage. My grandparents immigrated to Canada and became farmers. Dairy cows don’t take vacation. A good work ethic was essential to put food on the table.

What drives you?

I feel a lot of gratification when a job is done and done well.

A favourite book you would recommend?

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. We can’t all lead like Lincoln, but we can learn to get the most out of people.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your 40s, what goals have you set for yourself?

I want to be a good husband and good father to our three daughters, be a good friend to those around me and keep working on interesting things with good people.

What was your childhood career dream?

I grew up in a remote town on Vancouver Island, so I wasn’t exposed to much. If I had to choose, I would say professional basketball player despite my 10-inch vertical.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Leaving a stable, interesting job in the public service in the federal government to return to Vancouver and eventually start my own consulting firm.

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

Become a lot more tech savvy.

What is your best habit?

Gratitude and curiosity.

Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I fought over 100 forest fires in B.C., which helped pay my way through university. If you are in school and like to be active, go get this job. You won’t regret it.

Best piece of advice ever received?

“When you aren’t sure what to do or what career path you should take, start by matching the gifts/skills you’ve been given with your passions” – Chuck van Hemmen.

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

Good ideas are meaningless if you aren’t communicating them appropriately to your audience and decision makers. While working for Indigenous communities, I had to reorient the way I communicated. If I didn’t change, I wasn’t actually helping at all.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

Playing a leading role in the 2015 federal budget. It was a privilege to work with every department to solve problems and make investments for Canada’s future. I thought spending $290 billion was a big deal, though today’s budgets beg to differ.

What’s left to accomplish?

I want to play a role in solving some of the big challenges facing Vancouver – housing, homelessness, a lack of human connection and community, reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and economic development that supports families staying and thriving here.

Read the profiles of all 40 award recipients in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine. Register to recognize this year's winner at the Forty under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 22.