Alum of the Month: Dennis Año

Dennis Ano is a VIU Master of Business Administration alumni

January 28, 2021 - 5:00pm

Doing his master’s degree at VIU while working up to 30 hours a week as a Community Health Nurse was one of the biggest challenges Dennis Año (Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in International Management ’15) has ever taken on. After graduating, Año worked as Nurse Manager for the Island Community Mental Health Association and then as Director of Wellness for Amica at Douglas House – a position that combines the Human Resources management, strategic financing, budgeting and marketing skills he learned in VIU’s MBA program with his nursing background. He is now the Human Resources Manager for Island Crisis Care Society, combining his skill sets in community health nursing and harm reduction with his more recent training in finance and human resources management to make a difference in the lives of people in crisis.


What was doing a master’s in a completely different subject from your undergrad degree like?

First off, I had a non-business undergrad (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), so grasping business concepts was a steep learning curve, all while completing a steady stream of presentations, high-quality papers and exams. Also, I opted to work almost full time to support myself, which I would not recommend to anyone. One upside to that is that I was able to apply what I learned almost simultaneously in a work setting.


What gave you the idea to add business training to your nursing background?

The world is very dynamic right now. We always say nursing is the art of caring supported by science and research, and the body of knowledge we have access to increases exponentially each year. The onus is on nurses to keep abreast of changes and new knowledge. Now add another layer – what if the nurse also understands the driving force behind management’s financial decisions and how the company functions to serve the patients much better? In my case, it gave me the opportunity to pursue other careers and interests.


What are you doing now?

I work full-time as the Human Resources Manager for Island Crisis Care Society, a role I began in October 2020. Island Crisis Care Society is a non-profit organization based in Nanaimo and Oceanside that operates housing and outreach programs that help people in crisis stabilize and find the support, resources and services they need to recover and be well. For me, it fulfills my personal mission of finding a role where I can give back to the community. With my front-line background in harm reduction from my time as a community health nurse with Nanaimo and Area Resource Sources for Families (NARSF), combined with my background in finance, human resources management and operations management, I feel I am a great fit for this role.


What do you like most about your job?

Working with a great team, supporting and working with program managers, dealing with staff (almost 140 of them), unions, other agencies and just knowing I am making a difference in the lives of marginalized people truly makes me happy day in and day out. Every aspect and every component of my job which I think is integral is the fact that my personal vision and mission coincided with who and what we are as an organization. For more information and to find out how you can help and make a difference, visit the Island Crisis Care Society website.


What advice would you give people who want to follow in your footsteps?

I am not sure I am worthy enough to be emulated, but I would advise people to stick to it and not give up too easily. Harriet Beecher Stowe put it aptly: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems as if you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” 

Tags: Master of Business Administration | Our Alumni

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