Ask a CEO – Volume 16

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As part of our 2021 “Ask a CEO” relaunch, each quarter BCYL members will be asked to submit questions to our featured CEO. Questions will be compiled and one random BCYL member’s questions will be highlighted on our website.

Questions submitted:

  1. What’s your opinion on remote working and has your company culture changed as a result of roles moving remote?
  2. What strengths did your organization leverage to overcome a specific challenge over the past year?
  3. What professional advice would you give your younger self?

Christine Bergeron, Vancity

What’s your opinion on remote working and has your company culture changed as a result of roles moving remote?

I think there are two types of remote work. There is remote work during a pandemic with social constraints and public health orders, and then there will be remote work in a post pandemic world. I think that remote working is very nuanced with some clear benefits such as less/no commute and the possibility of better overall flexibility. But it can also come with some challenges such as challenges to building deeper personal connections with team members and at times more difficulty in “disconnecting” from work. Finding the future balance of what many are now calling “hybrid” work with some days in the office and some days at home, will likely require a lot of adjustments until both the individual and the organization get it right.

It’s difficult to really pinpoint how remote work has changed the culture at Vancity as we have also gone through a CEO transition and adjusted our overall plans. Our culture is one that deeply cares for colleagues and for members, and through the Covid-19 pandemic, we certainly saw our team members step up and support both each other and our members. So, in that sense, remote work has not changed what makes Vancity so great!

What strengths did your organization leverage to overcome a specific challenge over the past year?

As a values-based financial co-operative with more than 550,000 member-owners, Vancity is founded on the idea of members helping members. We’ve built financial strength over the years while building a values-based business.

At a time when people are facing significant financial hardship, Vancity has been using its strength to help our members and communities through the pandemic. Our priorities have been to provide needed financial support to our members, protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and members, and supporting the most vulnerable in our community.

Our support has involved mobilizing the resources and actions of our members to help us all meet the crisis together. From cutting credit card interest rates to 0%, providing tailored loan programs to women and self-employed entrepreneurs, translating government Covid-19 supports into multiple languages for our communities, supporting impacted local businesses, advocating for governments to put in place supports needed, we continue to listen to our members and communities and adapt our business to help in any way we can.

What professional advice would you give your younger self?

You don’t need to take a straight path in your career. Take on new roles and challenges that are interesting to you and don’t worry about what you “should” do next. Fulfilment from work is so much more important than anything else.  I’d also say take every opportunity that presents itself to learn something new, meet someone new, and contribute back to the community. Every individual you meet can teach you something along the way – so always start with an open mind and appreciate every interaction.