Shaping Your World…Career Pathing


We live and work in a world of constant change.  Change is continual and the nature of change is changing.  Years ago, stability used to be the driver of a successful business – prices only changed slightly, people stayed in the same jobs for their entire career…life was good!  Now, rapid technology change, global competition and changes in socio-demographic trends require credit unions to be ready for constant fast-paced change.  I asked myself recently how I can be ready for and adapt to change.  The connection I made is that I need to focus on managing my career in order to lead change within SaskCentral and the CU system.  Here are 7 tips and tricks that I have learned on career development:

  1. Own it – your career is just that: YOUR career.  Career development should be employee-owned, manager facilitated and organization sponsored.  Take control of your own career.  Your manager should be there to support and challenge you and ask rather than tell you what to do.
  2. You can never have too many self-assessments – In order to manage your career, you must understand your strengths, values, skills and weaknesses.  This is about reflection of who you are and what you like to do.  One easy assessment tool is to select your seven top values in your career. A few of my top values are working in a team environment, feeling challenged intellectually and having flexibility and time freedom.  What are your top values?  List them in order of importance.  Then identify those values that are aligned with your current work situation.  If one or more of your values are not being met, ask yourself, what steps can you take to move towards alignment?  It is important to look for alignment between your top values and your vision of career success.  There are many self-assessment tools available, such as DiSC Profile or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and also many free tools online that you can use.
  3. Validate your self-assessments – Once you have completed the self-assessments, it is important to validate those assessments.  The key here is to ask your co-workers, manager, friends and family – people who know and work with you – to share feedback on the strengths, values, skills and weaknesses you have come up with.  Do they agree with the strengths, values, skills and weaknesses you have identified?  Ask them to identify additional areas you can focus on or additional strengths and weaknesses you might not have thought of.
  4. Establish a career vision and set goals – I recently attended a career development workshop where the facilitator shared how to create a career vision and set goals to achieve the vision.  The facilitator shared an interesting perspective on how to establish short and long term goals.  She believed that career management is less about the next position you want to attain and more about building skills and experience.   Often, you may focus on achieving a certain role or position within a company, rather than focusing on the skills and experience you need to have a successful career.  Think of it this way – if your goal is to become the next CEO or general manager at your credit union, but the CEO position is filled with a younger leader who will likely be in that role for 10 or 15 years, you are likely to be disappointed because your chances of getting that position are low. The facilitator also suggested that we work on 2-3 week timeframes when setting short term goals.  This allows the goals to be smaller and more manageable.  So establish a career vision by determining what career success would mean for you.  Then use short timeframes to achieve your career success.
  5. Be prepared to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” – This is a classic interview question but is one that you should be ready to answer in all situations.  The key is that rather than focusing on the position you have or where you have worked, you should come up with a 30 second elevator pitch that addresses your skills, attributes and values.  Here is an excerpt of what I have come up with to answer the question:  “I am confident individual, role model and coach who strives for excellent performance and challenges my team to meet our department and corporate goals.  I embrace accountability and openness to creative ideas so that I can encourage problem solving and work towards a culture of continuous improvement.”  As you can see, this doesn’t state that I am a senior analyst at SaskCentral.  Instead, it focuses on the skills and values of what I do in my role as a senior analyst.
  6. Challenge yourself – Development of skills doesn’t occur within your comfort zone.  Once you have identified the skills you would like to develop to achieve career success, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone in order to develop those skills.
  7. Build your network – This is about getting to know people with different skills and viewpoints in order to expand your own skills and experience.  Try to expand your network further than like-minded people – look for people whose strengths are your weaknesses.  When you are building your network, it is important to have three types of people as part of your network: 1) Mentor, 2) Good listener and 3) Devil’s advocate.  Your network should include people with different perspectives and individuals that can help with various aspects of your career.

Our generation (Generation X and Y) generally looks for variety and we are likely change jobs more frequently than the Baby Boomers.  Remember that your career will be a winding path, not a linear one.  I will leave you with one last point to kick start planning your own winding career path.  Ask yourself what do you do that makes you feel most successful and fulfilled in your career?  What activities were you involved when you felt most successful or fulfilled?  Who were you working with?  What skills were you using?  If you can answer these questions, you will be able to start to understand what you will define as career success.

Ashley Kennedy, CPA, CA
Senior Analyst, Accounting & Reporting, SaskCentral

2016 Spring News

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy

Who we are
The Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee serves the Saskatchewan Young Leaders Community Members (SYL Community Members). The SYL Committee exists to:

  1. Strengthen the Saskatchewan Credit Union System;
  2. Develop the leadership skills of SYL Community Members; and
  3. Provide opportunities for SYL Community Members to apply those leadership skills.

Building Personal Success: 2016 SYL Retreat

We want you!
A SYL Community Member is an employee 35 years or less in the credit union system that is looking to enhance their leadership skills through new opportunities and applied learning. They must be passionate about strengthening the credit union system through new connections and skills.

You Are: 

  • Focused on improving self professionally and personally
  • Willing to learn and grow/open to feedback
  • Team player – focused on winning for the group
  • Interested in making others better and helping them to succeed
  • Passionate about the CU System and cooperative values
  • Committed to action
  • Problem solver/solutions-orientated

How You Prove It:

  • Honest and trustworthy
  • Fun-loving
  • Positive outlook
  • Embraces change
  • Spirit of inquiry
  • Challenges self and others
  • Takes personal responsibility and accountability

If this sounds like you, we have a great opportunity to share with you!
This is your chance to take part in shaping the future of the credit union system. The retreat is designed to bring together Saskatchewan Credit Union leaders who will take part in scenario‐based learning on Leadership, Career Planning, Succession Planning, Staying in the CU system, Communication and more!

August 23 and 24, 2016

Shekinah Retreat Centre
( index.php/about-shekinah/directions)

Thanks to our sponsors there is no cost for SYL Community Members to attend the retreat!
(Click here to see our 2016 Credit Union Sponsors)
*Please note your Credit Union is responsible for any travel related costs.

How to Apply?
Applications will be accepted from April 29 through May 31, 2016; space is limited so apply today! Applicant selection will be completed by June 15, 2016.
Click here for more information, or to apply now!

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs

“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.” Queen Elizabeth II

Over 800 delegates from all over Canada will be meeting in Saskatoon May 1‐4 to attend a variety of workshops and events that will help to grow and evolve Credit Unions in keeping with the conference theme of “Framing Our Future.”

As noted on the CCUA website: “The conference will feature prominent leaders, industry experts and bestselling authors offering a blend of strategic thinking and real world experience. The conference will provide a balance of keynote speakers and forum discussions designed to draw out best practices within the industry and promote networking and partnerships among credit union decision makers.”

Follow the action throughout the CCUA Conference App, or through any of these channels:

CCUA on Facebook
CCUA on LinkedIn
CCUA on Twitter

Join us at the booth to meet committee members of both NYLC and SYL committees and get more information about these committees and upcoming events!

Follow us during the conference:

NYLC @NationalYoung
SYL @SKYoungLeaders

The SYL committee is thrilled to be part of this event right here in our home province!

We will be volunteering with the CCUA throughout the event to assist with keynote speakers, registration, social responsibility and social media updates.

We have also partnered with the National Young Leader Committee (NYLC) whose mandate is to strengthen the Credit Union System by bridging generations of leadership. Together, our committees will be present at the tradeshow from May 1st through 3rd promoting the importance of developing future leaders and focusing on social responsibility. This year, NYLC will be collecting donations at their booth that will be shared with the Co‐Operative Development Foundation of Canada. Donations up to $1,000 will be matched by NYLC.

The NYLC will also be hosting the CU NEXTGEN Leadership Intensive May 1st and 2nd in conjunction with the four day conference.

NEXTGEN is designed for emerging CU leaders 40 years and younger and will include a presentation from the Filine Research Institute, a Human Library, various debriefs, and a NextGen & Friends Social Event.

The SYL Committee is proud to be co-hosting the NextGen & Friends Social Event May 1st at 8:30pm, which will be held at Hudson’s Pub in downtown Saskatoon. We welcome you to join us for an evening of food, drink and engaging conversation!

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell

Mentorship Resources

On March 17th the SYL team hosted a virtual learning session on mentorship, with 2 guest speakers who spoke of the importance of mentorship, and their own personal experiences. Our presenters were: Corvyn Neufeld, Vice President People Solutions, Governance and Strategy at Cornerstone Credit Union, and Russ Siemens, Director at Innovation CU, Concentra Financial and SaskCentral. A huge thank you to each of them for their time and contributions to the session! Thanks also to all the young leaders who joined in on the call. Following the session, we asked participants to evaluate the session and although the results were overall positive, we heard loud and clear that you were hoping for some additional information on mentorship programs. So here it is!

  1. Several CU’s have internal mentorship programs for employees to become involved in. Conexus employees can follow up with Naomi Seaborg for more info. Cornerstone employees can follow up with Sheena Soke for more info. Ask your supervisor or HR department for more information about mentorship programs within your own credit union.
  2. Canadian Credit Union Association; National Mentorship Program
  3. TalentC; The Benefits of Mentoring, Mentorship Articles and Blogs
  4. Edwards School of Business; Introduction to Mentorship
  5. Edwards School of Business; The Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program
  6. Edwards School of Business; Opportunities for Edwards Students and Finding a Mentor

Finding a mentor on your own

Discovering and cultivating a good mentor isn’t easy. You should pick someone whom you would like to emulate – someone who excites you and gets you going and with whom you feel comfortable.

Mentors are people with whom you can share triumphs, defeats and new ideas, receiving in turn guidance, a nonjudgmental audience and constructive criticism. Take the initiative and approach the individual whom you think would make a good mentor. Consider exactly what skills you can learn from them.

Look for mentors in areas that will be relevant to your career and who will provide a reality check. Find someone who has experience in your chosen career field and is in touch with the real world.

Evaluate the potential mentor:

  • Is he or she encouraging and respectful of your goals?
  • Do you receive regular feedback?
  • Does your mentor facilitate your participation in organizations and committees, help you stretch?
  • Does your mentor make professional connections for you?
  • Can you communicate easily with your mentor? Do you respect them?

Where do you find them?

The best mentors help develop the insight and self-awareness that assist with integrating professional life, personal concerns and core values.

Do not rely on one mentor; no individual can supply all the guidance you need. Old-style mentoring has been replaced by the need to build constituencies. Just as you have to manage your own career, you have to create your own board of advisers. The best way to find multiple mentors is to join and attend professional organizations, networking with as many people as you can.
Resource: Doris Appelbaum, founder and president of Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc.

If you were unable to attend the Virtual Learning session in March and would be interested in hearing more, you can view the full webinar from our website

Stay Connected with SYL

Visit our website
Follow us on Twitter @SKYoungLeaders
Or send us an email

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team‐mates and customers.” Robin S. Sharma

Your SYL Committee
Amy Bott
Ashley Kennedy
Brittany Halkyard
Chantelle Doratti
Darren Enns
Naomi Seaborg
Sheena Soke
Summer Allen

Building Smarter Financial Consumers


Financial literacy… It’s almost beginning to be a “catch phrase” in today’s society. Everyone is talking about it, but what are they doing to help it catch on? What does it mean? How do we promote financial literacy to the youth of today?

Investopedia defines financial literacy as “the possession of knowledge and understanding of financial matters”. It describes it further saying “it entails the knowledge of properly making decisions pertaining to certain personal finance areas like real estate, insurance, investing, saving, tax planning, and retirement.”

Financial education should be life-long; beginning with parents in the home, continuing through elementary and high school and persisting into adulthood.

If you are at this point, you deserve a gold star for listening (or reading)! Here’s why: I have done many presentations to students from grades 9 to 12 in the past few months and the one common trend I see in these classrooms is the lack of interest in the topics around financial literacy. One question I always ask the kids is “Can anyone tell me what a credit card is?” The answers to this question have proven to be very alarming and at times, comical. These kids are 16 to 18 years old and can’t confidently tell me what a credit card is let alone how it works! I can’t help, but ask… How can we expect these youth to be responsible with a credit card in a few short months when they are able to sign for their own card?

Starting at home can be the easiest and most effective way to introduce personal finance as well as the financial concepts required to give kids the knowledge and confidence to be smarter consumers into their teens and adulthood.  I have broken down a small list of ways to help kick start these life skills at home. Try some of these out, your kids (and their financial advisor) will thank you!

  1. Be a savings role model.
    I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but kids are so good at copying behaviour! Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the bad habits but they do pick up on the good habits too. Use jars to organize your household finances – divvy up the money required for groceries, gas, utilities, and entertainment to help the kids relate to the money and to see how much it costs to keep the fridge full!
  2. Pay your kids cash… cold, hard, cash.
    I’m guessing you already give your kids an allowance, right? Give them the cash to earmark for either spending or saving. Give them a special jar or piggy bank for savings and a cool new wallet for their spending money.
  3. Use the 10% rule.
    Teach them to split that big birthday cheque from great-grandma and immediately take 10% and put in their piggy bank to save for the future.
  4. Start saving early.
    From their first allowance to the time they move out. Talk about their savings and be firm with goals they have set for themselves!
  5. Come on Dad… give them some dough!
    One sure-fire way to encourage saving is to match their savings effort. Jimmy is saving for his first car, challenge him to save at least half; if he can reach his target you’ll give him the same amount.
  6. Post pictures of the savings goal.
    There is nothing that makes you more motivated to save then staring at that new bike you really want! Post pictures to the fridge, bulletin board, or even the background of the computer and iPad!
  7. Measure progress and give rewards.
    Create a colourful savings chart for long term savings goals. Reward progress with stickers, screen time, candy, time with friends, or even a later bedtime!
  8. Teach financial concepts.
    Such as compound interest, credit cards, consumer rights, and cost of credit. These are important concepts that will ensure your kids are fit to make their own financial decisions and be a responsible consumer.
  9. Introduce banking.
    Take them to meet with a financial expert at the local financial institution (like the Credit Union) to open up their very own savings account. Let them have a discussion and build a relationship with the financial expert, this will be a valuable relationship for all three of you!
  10. Don’t forget the fun, Mom!
    By no means will these steps be easy, but you can use some fun to make it a bit more interesting! Use board games, challenges, online apps, fun videos, or other fun activities to encourage your kids to learn and grow their knowledge.

By using a couple of these tips, I hope you are able to help your kids feel valuable in your household, and give them the power to go out on their own and be financially healthy. By investing in your child’s financial knowledge, you can be sure it will have a life-long impact on how hey look at their own finances and they will be more likely to make smart decisions in the future.

Naomi Seaborg, Conexus Credit Union

Next Gen & Friends Drop in Event


NYLC & SYL Present :
Next Gen & Friends Drop in Event

Sunday May 1st 2016 (after CCUA Conference welcome reception)

Hudson’s Pub – Pacific Room
(less than 1km from TCU Place approx 9 min walk)
401 21 Street E Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan S7K OC5


Drop in for a drink, some appetizers and great conversations

Growing Season

Spring is in the air and I have been planning a new garden box and have been thinking about the lessons that are learned from growing a garden. From the planning stage through to harvest, there are successes and failures, but one thing is for sure, you are never in control.

At the beginning we can plan the perfect location, prepare our soil and then sow our seed when the time is just right. Once that seed sprouts we start to nurture, train and protect the plants as they grow to maturity and hopefully, we have a bountiful harvest. Of course, it isn’t that easy. From the time the seed is sown to maturity, there will be a number of challenges and obstacles in the way of that harvest. We are better equipped than ever in dealing with the challenges, but without control there will always be variable results. You can do everything “textbook” and still have a crop failure or you can give up and later find a flourishing plant; sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

A gardener can only create the conditions for growth and as long as those conditions are maintained the growth will continue. As leaders, we need to provide the right conditions and be agile enough to meet the evolving needs and be able to react to the changing environment around us.

Steven Schwartz
Prairie Centre CU

SYL and NYL working together!


The SYL Committee is pleased to be partnering with the National Young Leaders Committee at the 2016 National Conference for Canada’s Credit Unions.  This year the Conference is being held in our very own province.  The conference runs from May 1-4, 2016 at the TCU Place in Saskatoon.

The first days of the Conference focus on the CU NextGenTM Leadership Intensive.  The NextGenTM Leadership Intensive is an exciting leadership development program hosted by the NYL Committee.  It provides Canadian credit unions with a unique opportunity to develop their young and emerging leaders by preparing them to be next senior decision makers in our system.   The remaining days of the conference will feature keynote speakers, forum discussions and a trade show.

The SYL Committee’s involvement in the Conference will include:

  • A booth at the trade show
  • Volunteering throughout the conference, specifically NextGenTM events
  • Co-hosting an event with the NYL Committee on the evening of May 1 (open to all conference participants)

The SYL Committee would love to see you at the conference. Registration to the conference is filling up quickly.  For more information on the Conference, as well as registration please visit: The Conference booklet can be found on the website.

As always, feel free to reach out to any of our SYL Committee members with questions or comments:

Ashley Kennedy | SYL Chair | SaskCentral | | 306.566.7746
Naomi Seaborg | SYL Vice-Chair | Conexus CU| | 306.365.2254
Brittany Halkyard | Crossroads CU | | 306.547.3213
Chantelle Doratti | Affinity CU | | 306.657.6836
Darren Enns | Luseland CU | | 306.372.4444
Sheena Soke |Cornerstone CU | | 306.786.2254
Steven Schwartz | Prairie Centre CU | | 306.967.1212
Summer Allen | New Community CU | | 306.653.5134
Amy Bott | Admin Support | SaskCentral | | 306.566.1227

Against The Grain


What does it mean to be a leader? I think it means that sometimes you need to walk on your own by taking or even creating your own path. Not all great leaders are appreciated at first; well actually some are even made to feel like an outsider. You have to be strong and stay strong, comfortable with being uncomfortable and committed to what you believe in. Especially as young leaders, when people might judge you on your lack of experience, knowledge or skills.

It takes a strong individual willing to stay committed and always being true to themselves in all aspects of life whether in business or personal to set us apart from those that just want to be a part of the crowd. By being your truly authentic self you will inspire the same for others around you and start a ripple effect.

Never lose sight that you are a part of a team that requires you to lead the way. Of course it’s always important to be a great team contributor but as a leader you will stand out in a different way. Continue to encourage and be aware of the influence you have on others, your influence should be used as a way to help strengthen those around you. Leadership isn’t just about doing what you would expect to do as a leader, but taking the chances where you might fail in order to have success around you.

The advantage of going against the grain is not being tainted by past experiences or failures and not being afraid to fail. You can come to the table with a fresh inspiring perspective, maybe something that has actually never been done before. I think it’s especially important for us, as young leaders in the credit union system, to constantly challenge ourselves. We face so many challenges and changes in our industry; a fresh new perspective is exactly what is needed from young leaders to come up with solutions to current challenges.

Credit unions have paved the way in many aspects, being innovators in the financial industry. I bet many of those ideas were the direct result of innovators that were initially turned down, but kept persisting. Some of those Credit Union firsts were inconceivable and had never been thought of or seen as bad ideas, but they turned out to be the way of the future and all the other financial institutions then followed along.

Set your own path in regards to leadership, but remember that going against the grain can be a positive, but difficult task that is in its own is very rewarding.

Summer Allen
New Community Credit Union