Andy Yu – living with cerebral palsy & reaching for the top

Andy Yu is a young man with a bright future.

At just 34, he’s the corporate controller at a BC-based company, Taseko Mines, which had annual revenues of $290 million in 2013. Andy, a chartered professional accountant, is responsible for overseeing the business’ finances. He’s newly married, expecting his first child, and has somehow found time to also earn a master’s degree in business administration!

Andy is also a person with a disability; he is the president of the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia.  Living with cerebral palsy is something he has dealt with his whole life, but he’s never let it slow him down.

His motto? “Never give up. There are setbacks along the way but don’t get disheartened. If you have enough faith and confidence, you can do anything and you need to make it happen for yourself,” Andy says.

Andy Yu Taseko Mines

Just the beginning

Andy acknowledges that he has had some great support throughout his life: his mother,his wife, Stella, and some key teachers. A native of the Philippines, Andy recalls a big moment in his life was his family relocating to the Lower Mainland when he was 15.

For a career preparation class at New Westminster Secondary School, he landed a one-month job placement at the Royal Bank, which opened the door to a summer job.

“From my first work experience, I wanted to prove that, despite having cerebral palsy, despite having a disability, I could function like an able-bodied person.”

He has done just that and hasn’t looked back. Not only is Andy driven to perform to expectations, he’s determined to exceed them.

“I need to do better because I didn’t get this position because I have a disability, it’s because I can do the job.”

Taking the next step

Johan de Rooy, an accounting professor at UBC, recognized Andy’s talents and drive. After not being accepted by a couple of accounting firms as an articling student, Andy was feeling down and was questioning whether being a chartered accountant was for him. De Rooy helped him find an opportunity that suited him, an articling position at a local accounting firm, and Andy put in the work to win the job. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll find you a firm and you’ll be a chartered accountant some day,’” Andy recalls.

That articling experience also meant he had to re-try for his driver’s license as he was expected to drive all over the Lower Mainland to see clients.

“That mobility to me was a whole new world,” Andy says now.


Dream big, plan big

So what’s in the future for the dynamic Andy Yu, long-term?

The sky’s the limit. “My goal is I want to become a CEO. Through my experience through the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, I realize that being in a CEO position, in a president’s position, you can really shape the strategic direction of an organization. I would like to be in such a position that would oversee the greater breadth of a company.”

These days it’s not totally rare to hear of businesses that fully include people with disabilities into their workplaces. But there still are hurdles. There still is a lot more work to do in reducing stereotypes and removing barriers. Andy is one of those people who is leading the charge and getting the broader community to make some of those changes and we’re looking forward to hearing how his pioneering journey continues.