I’ve been in the industry for more than 27 years. My career path has been shaped by the places that I’ve worked. I started in 1990 at Crown Life, in its commercial mortgage department. I then moved to a small trust company, where I got my first exposure to underwriting. Then I moved to CIBC, spending 13 years there, first in sales and then in people management. From all of the structures and cultures that I was lucky enough to experience, I learned the value of flexibility. I was also fortunate to have amazingly supportive managers, who saw things in me that even I didn’t see and helped push me to my potential.
What’s made me successful:
I have always tried to stay humble and respectful of everyone. While I have focused on honing my expertise and growing my reputation as an expert, I’ve never been shy to admit when I needed help or someone else’s expertise. Networking, longevity in relationships and collaboration have been invaluable to helping me become the professional that I am today.
Why I chose First National:
At first, pure curiosity. First National was a competitor, so I knew about the company from that perspective. But like everything, it came down to timing. My boss was about to retire, so I began to wonder what a similar role would entail at First National. When I eventually started here, I was immediately struck by the culture and structure. First, senior management took a genuine interest in everybody. The culture valued ambition and drive, but never at the expense of respect, fairness or fun. Second, I came from an environment with a lot of red tape and difficult, cumbersome decision making. First National was a breath of fresh air in comparison, because there were no hoops to jump through or layers to navigate. I also really valued the autonomy that I was given and the trust in my judgment. To this day, I’m empowered to make decisions and execute on them. There is more freedom to cultivate ideas, and it’s a genuinely personal and collaborative environment.
How I’ve applied my expertise:
I’ve been able to be a change agent here, which is very exciting and rewarding for me. Leveraging my years in the industry and the diversity of my roles, I was able to spotlight potential policy and procedure improvements and then tackle those issues in new ways. I’ve also tapped my insights and perspectives on dealing with challenges to become a better, more engaged manager for my team members, empowering them in new and innovative ways.
My advice and perspective:
I see problems as opportunities. People sometimes lose perspective, but nothing is ever as bad as it seems. It’s important to identify the problem, find the best solution, fix it and move on. And leverage the people around you. If you don’t know the answer, there is always someone who will. Find your experts. Find your people. Ask a lot of questions. Own your career. Take charge of your development. Most importantly, work hard, set goals, achieve them – and have fun doing it! That approach has enabled me to have a very validating and empowering career, underpinned by inspiring collaboration and amazing relationships.