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Two BCIT Grads Reinvent the Global Workforce While Creating Socioeconomic and Environmental Impact 

What comes to mind when you think of traditional accounting firms? Taxes? Audits? Stress-induced cardiomyopathy? What if I told you there’s a firm that specializes in performing more operational accounting and financing for companies, rather than just filing taxes or auditing clients? Sounds too good to be true, but there is one!

For several years now, Tandem Innovation Group (Tandem IG) has been working to act as an incubator for startup businesses and be more involved in operations than traditional accounting firms are.

What makes this even more exciting is that one of the co-founders is a BCIT alum. Tania Lo graduated from BCIT in 2002 with a diploma in financial management. I had the chance to interview her to learn about her journey.

Before becoming a co-founder of Tandem IG, Tania, always very entrepreneurial, had created a publishing company called Momentum Magazine. It was initially a cyclical print publishing program, but it moved to digital publishing once enough capital was raised.

But, as Tania recalls, “being a publisher is a really tough place to be when Google and Facebook are your competitors.”

She knew she needed to do something else but wanted to find a career that encompassed what she loved most about publishing: bringing groups of people from various backgrounds to work toward a common goal.

Soon, she met Sean Hodgins, an accountant who had been running the firm Tandem Accounting Group on his own for ten years. Tania said she liked Sean’s approach of “bringing small groups of people together and playing more of a co-founding role in startups to understand the potential opportunities.” 

She joined the firm in 2016, working with Sean in “mentoring other folks to join [them] on how to build these mini-teams and…work with startups in the finance [and] accounting role.” 

By 2018, the firm had changed its name to Tandem Innovation Group. And fast-forward to early 2022, Tandem IG has grown to more than 250 members and 20 internal staff. It has amassed a network of consultants working remotely from all over Canada.

When asked what makes Tandem IG unique from other accounting firms, Tania states, “when clients choose to work with Tandem Innovation Group, they get a team that takes ownership of where the company is going. [We] fill a whole missing talent space with many people [with different skills], as opposed to just one or a few, with this constant network of people cheering them on.” 

And this is one of the keys to the success of Tandem IG. Having many people involved allows mistakes that get missed by one person to be efficiently caught and corrected. It also boosts the group’s morale to have those who have your back, like “tell[ing] you you’re totally out to lunch.”

A notable challenge for Tania during her time with Tandem IG has been “keeping the lights on” for startups. “When we don’t have financial literacy around how we’re going to get to these places with the right finance partners, we lose daylight. And daylight can be your biggest challenge as a startup before somebody else comes up with the same idea.” Another area for Tania continues to be working with people in the startup world who need budgeting and financial planning skills because they come from different backgrounds. 

In this interview, I also had the pleasure of speaking with Renee Mitchell, another BCIT alum working at Tandem IG. She graduated last spring with an advanced diploma in business management. 

Renee says, “I previously started a business degree back in the late ‘90s and remember going to business school thinking, This is so backward from how I want business to be done and how I feel it needs to be done for the planet…”

With a passion for business, she worked in the industry “organically” after earning that degree. Eventually, she decided to return to school—BCIT was her choice. Studying here, she was satisfied with her business education because it contained all the pieces missing from previous studies.

Now, Renee prides herself in working for Tandem IG because of its commitment to goal 13 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action. In fact, it had the opportunity to work with the cutting-edge company Carbin Minerals.

This company specializes in removing carbon emissions for companies that mine the metals necessary for the massive energy transition, which will continue to take place over the next 20 years. It has received a $1-million grant from the $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition (from the Musk Foundation) to fund their continued efforts to produce net-zero mining emissions. And this is just one example of the many state-of-the-art companies Tandem IG works with.

Today, Tandem IG continues to set itself apart from others in the finance and accounting industry. And they are not just an accounting firm; they are mentors and investors that help incubate businesses in their early stages to help them get off the ground. I look forward to watching them further expand to global markets.

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash