It was with great sadness that Cardiff Business School learnt of the untimely death of Malcolm Anderson on 19 February 2018.
Malcolm was born on 22 January 1970. He grew up in Cramlington, Northumberland. The schoolboy Malcolm also showed a flair for leadership - he became Deputy Head Boy and captain of the school football and cricket teams. He also displayed other characteristics which were to become very familiar to all who knew him later in his life. In a testimonial supporting Malcolm’s university application, the Headmaster of Cramlington High School wrote: “Malcolm’s attitude to his work is exemplary … He is able to work very well on his own … He has a clear style which displays his arguments forcefully and logically using both sound analysis and his dry sense of humour”. Thirty years of academic life failed to diminish these qualities.
Malcolm came to Cardiff as an undergraduate in the autumn of 1988. He read Economics and Economic History, graduating with First Class Honours in 1991. He was immediately recruited as a research assistant in the newly-formed Business History Research Unit led by Dick Edwards and Trevor Boyns. Malcolm quickly displayed his aptitude for academic research. He found his niche in the rather esoteric area of accounting history. With Dick and Roy Chandler, he investigated the perennial problem of the auditors’ responsibility for detecting fraud.This enquiry had impact at the time of the Polly Peck and Maxwell corporate scandals; in 1993 their published results won the prize for the best paper in Accounting and Business Research.
The first major project on which he assisted was an ESRC-financed project headed by Dick and Trevor on the topic of ‘The development of accounting information as the basis for management decision making’ which lasted between August 1992 and April 1995. He became an important part of the ‘Cardiff School’ of accounting and business historians, making significant contributions to the research efforts of the Unit, working alongside Dick, Trevor and Derek Matthews, with whom, in various combinations, he contributed to a number of journal and book publications in the 1990s. In particular, his work on the influence of accountants in the boardrooms of British companies – “the priesthood of industry” - produced results that may have surprised many. He was promoted to lecturer in September 1995 and added to his qualifications gaining an MPhil and a Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance from the ACCA. Over the next 15 years, he developed a body of work which ranged from widely read professional journals to some of the top 3- and 4-star journals with a more select readership. A piece that he particularly liked was his collaboration with eminent scholars who were not Cardiff-based, Stephen Zeff and the late Bob Parker, Major Contributors to the British Accountancy Profession: A biographical sourcebook.
Despite his impressive research output, Malcolm will be best remembered for his passionate dedication to learning and teaching, and in the pastoral support he provided to many current and past students. Malcolm was an excellent teacher with the rare ability to enthuse the large numbers of students who attended his lectures even on topics that could be technical and, of themselves, not especially inspiring. Starting with the award for the Most Effective Teacher in Cardiff University in 2011, Malcolm won an award every year whether for teaching excellence, feedback or student support. The many tributes that have been received from past and present students are testimony to how highly Malcolm was regarded not just as an outstanding teacher but also as someone who was caring and unstinting in the time he would give to them.
The excellence Malcolm brought to the lecture theatre was matched by the professionalism he brought to the various organisational roles he was assigned by the School. His meticulous attention to detail and his determination to strive for perfection inevitably singled him out for some of the more arduous tasks – to the relief of his colleagues who knew that not only had they escaped but the job would be done as well as humanly possible. This was especially so when he undertook to bring the School’s teaching timetable into the electronic age – a mammoth task of itself in terms of courses/classes, staff, class sizes, and so on but with the added issue of the many demands made by staff about their preferences for when, and where, they wanted to teach. He was assisted by his colleague, Louis Vallis, who recalls the passion Malcolm had for a job that many would have regarded as drudgery. Malcolm contributed his organisational skills, his professional dedication and commitment, but more than these he brought his own particular qualities – he was modest, unassuming, respectful of his colleagues and always prepared to deliver the best for them. Irrespective of the outcome, colleagues knew that Malcolm would have tried to meet their many and varied requests, often this came at personal cost as he would put himself down for some of the early morning starts.
In 1996, businesses in South Wales welcomed the opening of the Second Severn Crossing. Malcolm, too, was delighted since the new bridge shaved 30 miles off the regular trips to watch his beloved Swansea City – thought by some to be an unusual choice of team for one born and brought up in the North East of England.
The sense of loss his colleagues feel at his passing cannot be measured but is insignificant next to that felt by his wife Diane and his three daughters, Hannah, Rachel and Bethan, to whom he was devoted, and by the rest of his family.
An online book of condolence is available for those who wish to leave messages in Malcolm’s memory.