Going the Extra Mile
Growing up on a dairy farm near Stratford, Ontario, Harvey Willows didn't have a clear career path. "I only knew I wanted a job where you actually showered before you went to work!" he says. So after high school, Harvey got a job in a local bank. A co-worker suggested that he might do well working for the same company as her husband so he applied and a successful career in accounting began.
But it wasn't always easy. As his career progressed, so the need for more qualifications increased and Harvey spent several years at night school earning a CGA designation and a business degree from York University. His hard work paid off and he eventually became financial controller for a large company in Toronto.
With his own career established, Harvey decided to help other people acquire their accounting designations and began teaching night courses at a variety of schools and colleges in the Toronto area.
"I liked teaching much more than accounting," he says. "It agreed with my personality and I knew how important these classes were to so many people."
When he heard Centennial was looking to add to its business faculty, Harvey decided to take the leap and in 1986 became Professor of Accounting and Financial Services, adding Coordinator of Financial Services to his duties some years later. In January 2014 Harvey retired from the College with no regrets.
"I had many opportunities at Centennial and made many close friends," he says. "Of course Centennial was much smaller when I began and the Financial Services staff and faculty were a close knit group. We used to joke that we'd still come to work even if we weren't paid!"
It wasn't just the faculty and staff that made Centennial special for Harvey – it was the students.
"I saw what it took for many of my students to be there," he says. "They didn't come from wealthy backgrounds and often had families to support. In addition to being full-time students they often worked long, long hours in low paying jobs. They sacrificed a great deal to get an education."
During his early years at Centennial, Harvey remembers berating a student who was constantly late for a morning class.
"It was disrupting and I told him so," he said. "The student apologized and explained he'd been driving a taxi all night. I never again criticized a student for being late."
Determination and motivation has, over the years, defined the Centennial student – and Centennial faculty and staff.
"Our students went the extra mile to succeed," he says. "So we wanted to go the extra mile to help them make that happen."