Centralia College names 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient
Rick Anderson, chairman and chief executive officer of Moss Adams, is Centralia College’s 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient. Anderson, a 1971 graduate of Centralia College, is the 34th recipient of the college’s highest honor.
2011 Commencement speech by Rick Anderson (doc)
Moss Adams LLP, an international business organization, is the 11th largest accounting and consulting firm in the United States, and the largest headquartered in the West. Founded in 1913 and headquartered in Seattle, Moss Adams provides accounting and consulting services to public, private and nonprofit enterprises in many different industries. It has 20 locations in five western states and has a combined staff of over 1,700.
“I am very proud of this honor, yet I’m humbled,” said Anderson. “This recognition really caught me by surprise and I’m very appreciative. Centralia College was an important part of my education.” He is quick to credit firm partners and staff for tremendous support and encouragement throughout his career.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without that,” he said.
Anderson is one of two Moss Adams leaders to be named to Accounting Today’s 2010 Top 100 Most Influential People edition. Anderson was included for heading the West Coast’s largest accounting firm and chairing the high-profile national Blue Ribbon panel on Private Entity Accounting Standards. He is also a former trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation, the organization that oversees the establishment of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for the United States.
In addition to his recognition at Centralia College, Anderson, a 1973 Western Washington University graduate, was named WWU’s Distinguished Alumni in 2005. He is also receiving that university’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
Anderson is a 1969 graduate of Adna High School. After completing his college education, he became a Certified Public Accountant and joined Moss Adams. He has been with Moss Adams since 1973. Anderson rose through the firm’s ranks, serving as director of Auditing and Accounting, director of Operations, and then rising to become president and Chief Operating Officer from 1999 until 2004 when he was named chairman and CEO of the firm.
When he came out of high school, Anderson chose Centralia College partly for economic reasons and partly because of family.
“No one in my family had ever been to college so I had no frame of reference in choosing a college. I had no reason to believe I wouldn’t be getting an education that would be as good as I’d get some place else. Coupled with the economics and the concept of staying a little closer to home for those first couple of years made coming to Centralia College an easy decision,” he said.
And Anderson believes that his experience at Centralia College served him well when he moved on to WWU.
“I expected that I was going to get a good education. I expected to learn. I expected that I would be prepared when I transferred. And Centralia College absolutely met my expectations,” said Anderson.
While attending Centralia College, Anderson worked part-time loading boxcars at National Frozen Foods where his dad was plant superintendent. “I had to start at the bottom, just like everybody else,” he said.
Anderson’s career goal, when he first came to college, was to be an engineer. But he discovered that, while he enjoyed the general classes, he didn’t really like the specific classes required of an engineering major.
“I went to the counseling office and took a career interest test. Those tests indicated that I’d be pretty good in accounting or in a financial career. So I took the first class in the accounting sequence. I liked it and the subject matter was easy, it just came to me. I never looked back,” he said.
Anderson’s rise to the top of the Moss Adams firm mirrors the advice he would give to college students today.
“Stay focused on the job that you have today,” said Anderson. “Be cognizant of opportunities that are out there but know you have to do a good job where you are. Doing the very best that you can today will serve as a springboard to further success.”
Past recipients of the Centralia College Distinguished Alumnus Award are listed on the Foundation's Distinguished Alumnus Award web page and also on our Publications web page.
Anderson will speak at Centralia College’s commencement on Friday, June 10, and will be honored at events taking place during that day.