Hey there, that Leadership looks good on you!

“I need to be in the Credit Union system for a long period of time to have an opportunity for leadership”.

“Leadership is only evident for Management”

“What does leadership look like for me?”

Do any of these questions look or sound familiar?  7+ years ago, I had these same perceptions, thoughts, and questions in my own mind…..

As I grew in the Credit Union system, I obtained a lot of skills.  I learned a vast amount of product knowledge, was able to experience success in several branch roles, and had a lot of energy.  I really enjoyed what I did but like any passionate employee, I wanted more.

I knew I had some great experiences but in order to take the next step, I thought I was lacking in one key area…….the opportunity for leadership.  I did have an opportunity to be part of a Career Pathing Program and do some skills assessments, in addition to speaking with staff in roles of which I had interest.  It provided insight to learn about the roles, their qualifications, and the courses and/or designations needed to get them.  What didn’t they have?  Specific ways to obtain leadership experiences and the motivation and inspiration to go after it.

My perception of both success and leadership changed after attending my first Sask Young Leaders conference in 2010.  I was opened up to similar experiences and similar myths of leadership that others were going through, but more importantly the determination that many other Credit Union youth were applying to overcome this skills gap.  I was amazed at both the large number of non-managers in attendance and the vast amounts of leadership qualities they possessed.  Leaving that conference kept me in touch with several of the attendees, both inside and outside of my own Credit Union, and the empowerment to take my career in my own hands if I wanted to take it to the next level.  I learned that Leadership is not 1 specific thing, it looks different to everyone.  It might be improving communication skills and expanding your focus to include motivating the people on your team to help them develop their own skills.  Or it might just be that you work with someone through adversity beside them, not above them.

7 years later I am in an exciting Managerial role, part of the Sask Young Leaders Committee, and Chairing the inaugural Affinity Young Leaders committee.  I have learned so much from SYL, our participants, and the contacts I’ve made.  SYL is one of the Credit Union System’s best kept secrets and it remains the utmost importance of this committee to ensure we let our Credit Unions know that the secret is out!

Whatever Leadership means to you, the willingness and motivation to seek it, understand it, and apply it is vital.  True Leadership can never be mandated, it can only be earned.  Try it on for size!  I bet it will look good on you……

Tyson Klapak, Affinity Credit Union

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

“You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

— Brian Tracy

I started my Credit Union career as a summer student in 2011. After I finished school I returned back to my MSR position until May of 2012 when I took a temporary 1 year term as the Learning & Development Coordinator. Knowing that this was only temporary I was on the hunt for ways that I could develop myself further to have a chance at future opportunities. The first opportunity that presented itself was the SYL’s “Your Future is in Your Hands” conference. There were many things that I took away from this conference, but the biggest takeaways were something’s Devin Selte had said. “Take a chance and invest in yourself” and “Don’t let setbacks stop you from continuing on your path to be that leader.” Now these aren’t earth shattering quotes, but for where I was in my career, knowing that I really needed to make my time in my temporary role count because my time was limited – these stood out.

I came back to work with many new ideas and started making changes. At the beginning it was very awkward for me because I wasn’t sure how the new ideas would be accepted. I wanted to do something else that would force me out of my comfort zone and benefit me in the long run in my career. So I applied for the SYL Committee and was shocked when I received my acceptance letter. As Sam mentioned the first meeting was definitely awkward and I felt out of place being as the majority of the committee members were in leadership roles. I felt that I wasn’t going to be able to contribute as much, as I didn’t have the leadership experience and very little time in the Credit Union System compared to the rest. I felt one of the turning points for me was when we talked about professional development and different offerings that are out there. Being as these are conversations that I have daily back in my role I took the lead on the professional development sub-committee. Taking the lead on a sub-committee was definitely something that I have never done; I have always watched someone else be the first one to offer to take the lead.

My experience on the SYL committee has been by far my favourite. Not only did I get to work with amazing people and meet so many others within the CU System, I was able to prove to myself that I am a leader, that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and succeed. I am happy to say that the time I took and invested in myself paid off as my temporary Learning & Development position became a permanent position at the end of my term.

I dare you to feel awkward and take a step out of your comfort zone and see where it takes you.

Amanda Thoen, Innovation Credit Union

“There’s More To You Than You Can See”

Have you ever been inspired? Had the “aha” moment that you hear about, and never knew what it was until it happened to you? That moment happened for me in my career in 2010, where I was able to attend the Saskatchewan Young Leaders Conference. The theme of the conference then was “The Future is in Your Hands”. And that theme still applies today, and that’s where I learned that I wanted not just a job, but a career that I worked hard for to be where I am today, and where I want to go in my future.

We all need to work hard for what we want in life. And sometimes that means stepping out of your norm or your comfort zone to really find the inspiration that’s in you. And that’s what I did to move forward in my career – I stepped outside my comfort zone and applied for a committee position on the Saskatchewan Young Leaders. That committee saw in me what I now see today in myself – hard work, determination, passion, and ambition to move our thoughts and ideas forward.

The first meeting of SYL, my initial thought when looking around the table was “I don’t belong here.” I wasn’t a manager. I was working hard every day to climb the corporate ladder (or rather lattice as we learnt at our conference this year). There was no way I could contribute to the caliber of what was expected. But instead of those thoughts winning me over, I did what I knew I did well…and that was to listen. I listened to all the thoughts and ideas around the room, digested them, understood them, and then offered my thoughts. It turned out I was my own worst enemy, and the committee welcomed my ideas and my actions. ☺

There’s a quote – “Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” These words are so true, and a huge part of my decision to run for Chair of SYL in 2014. My fear of not belonging faded as I became more confident in myself and seeing that there really is “more to me than I can see” – a great quote that I took away from our conference. I was elected as Chair from my peers, and have learned that Leadership is not about titles, it’s about the trust and influence and motivation that you can bring to your group.

I am honored that I could provide the leadership to the Saskatchewan Young Leaders in 2014. However, I’m more proud to say to myself “I did it!” because it was so important for me to see that confidence in myself. Of course, I had an outstanding team alongside me every step of the way! I consider them confidantes and very good friends – something I didn’t expect when I first started.

Our closing speaker Joe Roberts quoted “There’s more to you than you can see.” Believe it! My best piece of advice I can give anyone – Believe in yourself. If you believe first in yourself, the confidence follows, and so does the success. And if you’ve ever watched the movie “Yes Man”, then you’ll know…“Every time an opportunity presents itself…you’ll say “Yes”. SYL is recruiting for four term positions starting January 2015. See this as your opportunity to stand out and become the leader that you know is in you.


Samantha Larsen, 2014 Chair of SYL

Bi-Annual Conference Recap

On September 24 and 25, Saskatchewan Young Leaders (SYL) hosted its bi-annual conference at the Hilton Garden Inn, Saskatoon. The weather was fantastic, the company was great and the learnings were bar none. Let us explain!!!

Wednesday evening kicked off with Jean-Franҫois (JF) Carrey, Canada’s youngest man to successfully climb the peak of Mt. Everest. After 6 years of training and over $100K invested, his dream became his reality. His message spoke of perseverance and reminded us to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Entertainment for the evening was Saskatoon Soaps, an interactive improv show that allowed us to have a great laugh with our fellow young leaders. This was followed by some great networking.

Now onto our big day… Erin Robinson from VanCity Credit Union opened the morning with a discussion on Climbing the Corporate “Lattice”. She reminded us that our careers will not move straight up, but may move laterally, backwards and in unexpected directions. We learned about her success and how she has strategically looked for gaps in her experience and actively sought ways to close them. Congratulations to Erin for her dedication to the Credit Union System and for her successful career thus far.

“Fearless Conversations” was the topic of Rachelle Brockman’s session at the conference. Many of our SYL followers may recall her webinar “Leadership Communications” earlier this year. Her session at the conference reminded us of the importance of communicating and pushing past the “fear” that we feel when we need to have difficult conversations with those we spend our time with. Great strategies and learnings, some real takeaways for sure.

Our panel in the afternoon was full of amazing leadership within the credit union system and was brilliantly facilitated by Ian McArthur, Manager, Business Advisory & Core Services at SaskCentral. Innovation Credit Union’s CEO Dan Johnson spoke on Collaboration in the Credit Union System; Laurie Smith, Senior Human Capital Consultant with SaskCentral, led us through Successful Careers from an HR perspective and Rich Harries, VP of Branch Operations with Access Credit Union in Manitoba, spoke about Personal Development, Goal Setting and Taking Action. The session allowed groups, arranged in a branch like structure, to have meaningful discussions based on the information presented. There was a lot of laughter, words of wisdom and inspiring conversation around the room.

Last and certainly not least “Skidrow CEO” Joe Roberts, inspired us with a message of overcoming adversity, addiction and homelessness to being successful in life and in a career. He strongly believes there is more to people than is seen or understood and with his organization “The Push for Change” he is hoping to “inspire as many people as possible to create a positive impact on @RISK and homeless youth in Canada”. The young leaders in the room were graced with an emotional, impactful and inspiring message. Please check out more about Joe and his great cause at www.thepushforchange.com.

A huge thank you to our many sponsors, without you this day would not have been possible. Please visit our conference page for a full listing.

Can’t wait until the next conference in 2016. See you there!

Are You Ready to Take Action?

September 24-25, 2014
Hilton Garden Inn, Saskatoon

The Saskatchewan Young Leaders Youth Leadership Conference – CU Forward – is less than a week away!

What you can expect:
A jam-packed agenda full of motivational speakers, leaders from our Saskatchewan Credit Union System, as well as great young leaders across the province for you to network with!

Wednesday September 24
6:00 – 7:00 pm   Registration
7:00 – 7:15 pm    Opening Remarks
7:15 – 8:00 pm    Keynote Speaker Jean-Francois Carrey
8:00 – 9:00 pm   Appetizers and Networking
9:00 – 10:00 pm  Evening Entertainment – Saskatoon Soaps
10:00 – 11:00 pm  Networking continued

Thursday September 25
8:00 – 9:00 am   Breakfast
9:00 – 9:15 am    Opening Remarks
9:15 – 10:00 am   Erin Robinson – “Climbing the Corporate Lattice”
10:00 – 10:15 am  Health Break
10:20 – 11:30 am  Rachelle Brockman “Fearless Conversations”
11:30 – 12:30 pm  Lunch
12:30 – 2:30 pm  CU Forward Panel – Daniel Johnson, Laurie Smith, Rich Harries
2:30 – 2:45 pm   Health Break
2:45 – 3:00 pm   SYL Update – Samantha Larsen, Chair and Maranda Sheahan, Vice-Chair
3:00 – 3:45 pm   Keynote Speaker Joe Roberts – “Skid Row” CEO
3:45 – 4:00 pm   Closing Remarks

What to bring:

  • Make sure to pack your business cards! Not only will you want to hand these out to our young leaders, but you’ll need one to enter into our great prizes given to us from our credit unions! And we all love Saskatchewan – what better way to show it with wearing some Prairie Proud Apparel gear! You’ll have your chance to win that too! Follow Prairie Proud on Twitter – @prairieproudapp
  • Speaking of Twitter – if you’re not following SYL, do it…now! @skyoungleaders. We want to see your tweets at the conference – and yes they will be live on the screen! Just remember to use #skcuforward in your tweets! If you haven’t joined Twitter…you may want to now! Maybe we can convince you at the conference.

What to wear:

  • In the business world, we dress to impress! However for these two days – we are relaxing the dress code ever so slightly! Dress is business casual – there could be some differing opinions on what that exactly means…so, jeans will be acceptable. If you remember when you registered, we asked for your t-shirt size. We’re making it easy for you to pack, and encourage you to wear your t-shirt that will be provided to you in your package on Thursday. We are excited to launch our new logo designed by Kelsie Valleire of Macklin Credit Union and what better way to do that then for all 130 participants showing it off! Please be sure to congratulate Kelsie on her awesome design of our new logo – we can’t wait for you to see it!

If you have any questions in regards to the conference, send us an email!

See you on the 24th!

The countdown is on…

The countdown is on – 16 days until our #skcuforward conference! To gear you up for the conference check out this video from our closing keynote speaker Joe Roberts – “Skid Row” CEO

The countdown is on…

Are you ready to TAKE ACTION?

September 24 & 25 are the days where our future leaders will move their thoughts, ideas and careers forward in the credit union system!

The SYL Committee has been working hard to provide our youth with an outstanding conference that will leave you feeling energized and motivated to take action in your credit union! There’s only 25 tickets remaining for the conference – Have you registered yet? Don’t wait – Registration closes on September 2nd!

Check out our conference page of our website – www.skyoungleaders.com for all the details and to register. You don’t want to miss this!!

We’re Getting a NEW Logo!

Congratulations to Kelsie Valliere – the winner of our SYL New Logo Contest!

Kelsie takes 2 contests in a row – winning the new design of the I <3 my CU t-shirt contest for the National Young Leaders, and now our SYL logo contest. Kelsie nailed it with her creativity of a fun, innovative and youthful logo of SYL!

Want to see the new logo? Attend our #SKCUForward Conference where it will be unveiled!
Register today!

Facebook: SKYoungLeaders
Twitter: @SKYoungLeaders

SYL Professional Development – Understanding The Team

The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual – Vince Lombardi

As a committee, SYL was recently reminded of the benefits of understanding the strengths, dispositions and priorities of individuals on a team, as well as the team as a whole.

SYL had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Laurie Smith, Human Capital Consultant, Client Delivery with SaskCentral at our June quarterly meeting. Here she completed an Everything DiSC® Workplace Profile on us individually and as a team. Through this process we learned how to better relate to and communicate with each other, as well as align tasks with individual preferences. This will make us a more effective and efficient team going forward. Overall, we have a very well rounded team, a little heavy on the Influential and maybe a little lighter on Conscientiousness. We had a few surprises and were enlightened by the results.

How does SYL profile?

Keeping in mind the four quadrants (or a combination of two). Do you know us well enough to place your committee?

  • Dominance: Direct, Results Oriented, Firm, Strong-willed, Forceful
  • Influence: Outgoing, Enthusiastic, Optimistic, High-Spirited, Lively
  • Steadiness: Even-tempered, Tactful, Accommodating, Patient, Humble
  • Conscientiousness: Analytical, Precise, Reserved, Private, Systematic

Hint: Our team styles – 1-iS; 2-iD; 1-S, 1-DC, 1-SC, 2–i

DiSC® or True Colors, HBDI® or Meyers-Briggs

With so many options to choose from, if given the opportunity to take any of the above assessments, be open to learning more about yourself and those you work with. Selfawareness is key to your personal development and means having a clear perception of your thoughts, beliefs, motivations and emotions. Learning about others will help you understand and better adapt to your team.

If you have not had a chance, consider it part of your career path and discuss attending a session with your supervisor or manager. Perhaps it’s possible to have your team as a whole participate – allowing your team to develop the way the SYL committee has.

For your consideration: What if credit unions focused on placing people based on their strengths? Focused less on shortcomings? What could happen to our overall results?

The results of your profile may help direct you on your career journey.

For more information talk to your Credit Union or SYL.


SYL Shout Out to Kristy Miazga – NTCUE Top 15

The Saskatchewan Young Leaders congratulates Kristy Miazga – Regional Manager at Synergy Credit Union, for making it to the TOP 15 of the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive Competition!

Kristy has worked for Synergy Credit Union for the past 8 years, with a combined years of service in the financial services industry of 14 years. Kristy’s primary function as Regional Manager is to lead, coach and support her team of branch managers to achieve success within their branches and communities. She is a passionate team leader and developing coach who respects and encourages her team to be fully accountable and the best that they can be!

Kristy also currently holds the position of Chairperson on the Synergy Emerging Leaders committee.

Kristy’s NTCUE Pitch:
Creating the Means to Grow Incredible Credit Union Leaders

Synergy Emerging Leaders is our Credit Union’s internal employee program and committee that is made up of existing leaders and up-and-coming leaders who are striving to further develop and enhance their careers. We come together quarterly to create and participate in networking and leadership development activities, as well as have some fun! The committee consists of 4 regions, allowing all employees from any branch to participate. There is no age restriction or limitations to joining the committee; we are continually recruiting new and existing employees to be a Synergy Emerging Leader. We also concentrate a large focus on leading two financial literacy programs for the youth; one of which was fully created by some of our very own committee members last year.

Ultimately, it is our emerging leaders who are the future of our Credit Unions and I’m striving to further advance our program by increasing employee engagement, retention and development of their leadership skills.

“Being nominated, and selected as one of the TOP 15 applicants is extremely exciting and a truly humbling experience — Not to mention, being 1 of only 2 Canadians in the Top 15 in this competition, the *butterflies* set in!”

What has Kristy learned from this experience?
“Being involved in the CUES NTCUE competition has provided me with new professional contacts, has helped expand my networks, my professional knowledge and is helping further develop me as a leader. It is providing me a platform to display my skills, passions, and abilities, while promoting a passion I have working in the Credit Union System helping to develop our emerging leaders.”

Kristy’s words of advice:
“If you are ever faced with an opportunity like this one – Take the chance, put yourself out there…you won’t regret it. Be creative, have fun, engage others in your journey and enjoy the ride. There is so much to learn about yourself and the others you meet along the way.”

Kristy is proudly representing not only Synergy Credit Union, but Saskatchewan and Canada. Show your support – Follow Kristy’s journey!
Twitter: @kristymiazga

Calling for 2015 SYL Committee Positions

Are YOU interested in:

  • Enhancing your personal development?
  • Growing a professional network?
  • Positioning credit unions as an employer of choice?
  • Contributing to the growth of our youth in and for the CU system?

If so, apply to join the Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee

The SYL committee has four positions available for terms starting in 2015.

The SYL is a committee with a mandate to work together to EMPOWER YOUTH to grow and prosper in and for the credit union system through attraction, retention, and development.

The SYL Committee has achieved great success over the years and 2015 promises to be another exciting year with an improved Sask CU Advance Competition and other great initiatives that we are keeping under wraps for now! Other activities the committee is typically involved in include positioning credit unions as an employer of choice among post-secondary students, offering leadership development opportunities for CU employees via electronic or in-person sessions, and supporting system alignment with the views of youth by offering a youth perspective on credit union initiatives.

SYL is comprised of 8 members and strives to be reflective of the SK CU system by having fair representation of credit unions (size, urban/rural, regional), as well as expertise and experience.

The SYL tenure is two years. Typical time commitments include approx. 4 two-day, off-site meetings per year, conference calls as required and a manageable amount of individual work as assigned.

To be eligible to apply, applicants must be:

  • Be aged 35 years or less at the start of the term.
  • Have not previously served as a member of the committee.
  • Attain full support from your direct supervisor.
  • Be prepared to be fully engaged in committee meetings, in executing our action plans, and during social networking events.

Applications will be accepted starting in October. Stay tuned for more details.
Applications will be available on the CUniverse.

 From left to right: Courtney Wishlow; Samantha Larsen; Maranda Sheahan; Rachel Obrigewitsch; Amanda Thoen; Cris Richer; Adam Johb; Amy Bott; Tyson Klapak From left to right: Courtney Wishlow; Samantha Larsen; Maranda Sheahan; Rachel Obrigewitsch; Amanda Thoen; Cris Richer; Adam Johb; Amy Bott; Tyson Klapak

Contact us: saskatchewanyoungleaders@saskcentral.com

What’s your Lollipop Moment?

Drew Dudley has a very insightful and entertaining TED Talk called “Everyday Leadership”  which shows the impact our actions can have on someone’s life. He talks about how we need to redefine leadership, and if we can change even one person’s understanding of what they’re capable of, we can change the whole world. He has a simple idea, but a large one, “that if we can understand leadership like that, I think if we can redefine leadership like that, I think we can change everything.”

Leading From Any Seat?

It’s a new era with a new concept – leading from any seat. Organizations have started to build leaders within all areas of an organization regardless of their title. This is not necessarily the norm for organizations, but we have started to see a shift and organizations are starting to make the change. This is a great change for those wanting to be a leader. However, if you want to become a leader regardless of your title where do you start?

I recently read an article titled “Managing Oneself” by Peter F. Drucker and a light bulb went off, one of those ‘aha’ moments. For this concept to apply to us as employees; we too must take responsibility and accountability of oneself. Yes, there is a shift in organizations to empower employees to lead from any seat and providing employees with opportunities regardless of title, but if I want to become a leader I need start leading myself and start leading my career.

“…with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t managing their employees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out your place…” says Drucker.

If you wanted to manage oneself and lead from any seat, where do you start? Start simple, think differently, and try these out:

Courtney Wishlow
Conexus Credit Union

Buy a T-shirt and Help Build a Better World

Making a difference in our local and international communities has always been an integral component of credit union business. Back in  2012, Credit Union Central of Canada’s National Young Leaders Committee (NYLC) designed and sold “I <3 MY CU” t-shirts, raising over $35,000 for the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF), which used the money to fund co-operative development projects in Canada and around the world

Earlier this year, the NYLC decided to do it again, and ran a contest to design a new logo.  Kelsie Valliere from Macklin Credit Union, SK won, and now her winning design is available for order!  In addition to t-shirts, the Committee decided to also put the logo on soccer balls.

– net proceeds from t-shirt and soccer ball sales will be donated to the  Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada’s (CDF) Build a Better World campaign, which supports hundreds of co-operatives and credit unions around the world in their efforts to help millions of people work their way out of poverty. They could not complete this work without donations raised through fundraising initiatives such as the Build a Better World campaign, which is a joint effort of the CCA and CDF.

The best part? Every time $1.00 is donated, it is matched up to $4.00 once the funds are assigned to a CDF project.  This means if the credit union system youth raise $250,000 alone, the actual amount dedicated to building a better world through co-operatives could be as much as $1,000,000!

If 225 credit unions raise $1,000 each – we will achieve and exceed our fundraising goal!

An order form is attached, and is also available through the NYLC’s Build a Better World web page.  Please – download the form, buy a shirt and send it to nylc@cucentral.com

Link to more information

Through the global youth community – together we can change the world.