By the Numbers: A Quarter Century at UTM

Darren Clift, IMI Communications & Media Intern
Photo credit: Darren Clift

David Linden

David began his career in 1980 while earning his undergraduate degree from University of Toronto, St. George campus. Professionally starting with the Business Services department in 1990, he transferred as Accounting Assistant to the Departments of Management, Economics and Political Science December 2005. David brings a wealth of operating knowledge and an in-depth understanding of how the financial and reporting systems work at the University.

Over your 25 years at UTM, how has the school community changed or evolved (other than the size of the student body)?

“Originally, Erindale College was considered a small, suburban campus, with 5,000 students and perceived as completely surrounded by wilderness. I started in Business Services, where our job was to liaise with central accounting, which only had 12 staff members in their office for the entire university. Business Services had the only computer terminal on campus connected to the accounting system; any departments had to come to us if they wanted a report on their accounts electronically. Most people who worked here knew each other well… if a new campus police officer was hired, he or she would be introduced to the various departments by the chief of police. The size of the campus afforded a more congenial ‘family’ atmosphere back then.”

Do you have any advice for an undergraduate commerce or management student looking to establish themselves in a long-term career such as yours?

“Take advantage of the external, extracurricular programs that the department offers. As an example, proficiency in Microsoft Excel is considered a requirement by many employers today, but Excel isn't covered in the standard management and commerce courses that cover theory. Practical applications are just as important, because they teach you ‘how to tie your shoes’ as it were. Because management and commerce are part of the deregulated program structure, more funds are allotted to the external programs that teach essential business skills. Use these programs and resources to your benefit.”

What is one of your proudest or most exciting achievements during your career at UTM?

“My job often involves fixing what goes wrong… obviously, I can't go into those details. But, I did help to resolve problems related to the funding of deregulated programs, like how the money is distributed among the departments and programs. The previous budget model didn't reflect how much funding was sourced by specific departments; which would determine the revenue the program should receive. I contributed a solution to the budget model issue, performed the necessary calculations, and imputed that data appropriately.”

Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work that you are particularly passionate about?

“I’m not an inherently passionate person, but I volunteer my time doing lighting with a community theatre group, which I find very enjoyable despite my fear of heights. Hanging lights from a ladder has helped me deal with my fear a bit, even though I'm still not fond of high places.”

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

“Travel is hard for me to do, but if there were no limitations, and I had the money, I would travel to Australia. Australia looks like a unique place to visit, and it offers a social experience similar to Canada. I wouldn't have to learn another language too… I would love to travel to China, but my lack of the requisite communication skills would worry me.”

Thank you David for taking the time to discuss your impressive career at UTM. Management and commerce students can definitely learn from your experiences and success. Good luck in the future; may wherever life takes you be an exciting and insightful journey.