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Brothers, and Dal alums, adapt and learn to achieve career success

Posted by Connor Dalton on January 26, 2024 in Alumni & Friends, News
Trevor (left) and Richard Arthurs (right) supported each other during their time at Dalhousie

When Richard Arthurs (BComm’93) arrived at Dalhousie University in 1987, there was a familiar face on campus.

In his first-year physics course, his older brother, Trevor Arthurs (BEng’89, MEng’90), was one of the teaching assistants.

Richard says Trevor, three years his senior, had always been successful academically, and if he received similar grades it was because he “worked three times harder than him.” To make sure he passed the course, Richard asked his brother to tutor him.  

Trevor, who also remembers their relationship as being competitive, says he enjoyed helping his younger brother.  

Now, on the eve of retiring as a material scientist with Intertape Polymer Group, Trevor says although he and Richard have worked in different fields, there are strong similarities to how they’ve approached their careers.

“We're both driven by an insatiable curiosity,” says Trevor. “If something is important to us, we're both driven to know how it works.”

Opening eyes to career possibilities

When Richard enrolled at Dalhousie, he started in the Bachelor of Science program and was considering dentistry.

Richard, now a partner with MNP, a national accounting firm, found his calling by happenstance. He had taken an accounting elective, and after finishing top of that class, he switched from science into the Bachelor of Commerce program.

Richard found his groove right away and became the chapter president for a student society called AIESEC, the French acronym for International Association of Students in Economics and Commerce. As Dal’s chapter president, he travelled for work terms in Zimbabwe, Ireland, Thailand and Ecuador.

“My time at Dal opened my eyes to all the possibilities, especially internationally.  The more I thought about those, the more motivated and passionate I became in my studies,” says Richard.

The value of a tight-knit team

Trevor’s career has kept him closer to home.

He is based in Truro, Nova Scotia, and has worked at Intertape Polymer Group for almost 30 years. They are a global leader in packaging and protective products, such as tapes and fabric membranes for buildings.

"I wanted to be an engineer before I even knew what that was,” says Trevor. He selected a Dalhousie program called Engineering Physics which, at the time, only had six other students in the class.

Those six other students and Trevor shuttled between science classes at Dalhousie and engineering courses at what was then the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). “All of us supported each other,” says Trevor. “I realized what a team can do — because we made each other better, ” an experience he believes helped him succeed as a manager.

Currently, the VP of Research and Business Development, Trevor helped create a product called NovaShield, a membrane structure fabric that forms the external skin of a building. Manufactured exclusively in Nova Scotia, it’s sold globally and has helped the Truro location of Intertape Polymer double their sales.

Responding to crisis

In 2008, Richard moved to the UK to join the executive of the local General Mills division and he was proud to be the first non-British person on the team.

Then two weeks after he arrived, the financial crash began.

Having just uprooted his young family to settle in a new country, he says it was a “challenging and overwhelming” time. But Richard is nothing if not resourceful.

Working with a team of 300, they adjusted the pricing of their food products, including selling their premium ice cream brand, Häagen-Dazs, at a steep discount.

With his guidance, their division achieved their highest ever sales during his tenure. His resourcefulness and adept problem-solving are skills he attributes to his time at Dalhousie University.

Richard spent 13 years with General Mills in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada. His last role was in 2012, at their world headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as Director of Global Internal Audit and Risk Management.

Surrounding themselves with knowledge

Reflecting on their careers, Trevor says he and Richard have succeeded because they continue to learn from others.

“We understand the importance of surrounding ourselves with people that are great,” says Trevor. “A lot of the people that I've managed are in leadership roles in the company now.”

After years of working internationally for General Mills, Richard returned to Canada and began a new challenge in 2012. Not just a partner at MNP, he’s also the National Leader of Internal Audit, Enterprise Risk Services.

In addition to leading a national team, which in 2023 utilized over 600 professionals, Richard’s role requires rigorous devotion to learning about new risks facing their clients, such as cybercrime, privacy laws and artificial intelligence.

“If you want to be good at this, you have to learn new things every day and you have to be willing to change all the time,” he says.

Investing in their relationship

After 34 years in his industry, Trevor will retire in May of 2024. He is excited to spend time hiking, canoeing and bird watching throughout Nova Scotia.

Even though their families have often lived far apart, Trevor and Richard have made trips to visit one another and remain close. They’ll be travelling to Thailand together this summer.

“As we're getting on in our careers and age, we’re realizing that putting more effort into this relationship is important,” Trevor says.

Richard isn’t retiring yet, but when he does, he wants to keep busy by volunteering and possibly teaching. “I know myself — I'll still be seeking that intellectual stimulation,” he says. Wherever they end up, one thing is for certain: these two brothers will be supporting one another.