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Connecting with members is her top priority: a "virtual" member herself, 2006-7 FEI Canada Chair Kathy Stevenson aims to use the technology advantage for making more connections to keep FEIC in the direction it's been going--and more.

During her upcoming year as FEI Canada chair, Kathleen Stevenson, known as Kathy, says she'll shoot for 100 percent member retention. Now, she understands that's an impossible goal, but she wants to make sure that "we are adding enough value to the professional lives of our members that they don't even think, 'Should I stay a member?'"

Often cited as a reason for leaving, "I can't get to meetings" hammers home the importance of the number one benefit that members list: networking. However, Stevenson explains, with demands on time and distance, getting to chapter meetings is indeed difficult. "We've got to ensure that people feel connected--whether in-person, at meetings or through technology." She'd like the definition of "networking" to fit the 21st century model: "There are other means for networking, and we need to ensure that members are aware of what we offer."

Stevenson is senior vice president and CFO of Interior Savings Credit Union, Kelowna, British Columbia. The credit union provides a full range of financial services. When she first joined FEI in 1995, Stevenson lived in Vancouver, and attended local chapter meetings. Now, living about a four-hour drive from Vancouver (one hour by plane), she laments she attended only two meetings this year.

There are a couple of members where she is, in Kelowna, and one suggested starting a chapter. She believes there are opportunities to meet with those members and use FEI online resources to watch seminars from the National Sponsor Series, or webcasts, and not have to deal with planning meetings, speakers, etc. for a very small group.

So, Stevenson wants the national organization to consider how it will continue to provide and enhance support outside the large, urban areas, and how it can offer as much as it can to the chapters to assist them with what they need to do. FEIC has made great progress supporting chapters in the last few years, she says, with its national sponsors and Breakfast Seminar Series. She wants to continue extending the resources so that online networks are created. "Those are the types of connections we've got to encourage more," she insists.

She would also like to bring more awareness to the work of FEIC's Issues and Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC) and its Committee on Corporate Reporting (CCR). She's "not so sure that our membership has a really good handle on what our CCR and IPAC committees do, what we are working on behind the scenes and what value they bring."

CCR works with the Accounting Standards Board and the Emerging Issues Committee of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. IPAC looks at "changes in the landscape," outside of corporate reporting and of importance to industry groups, in areas such as government, taxes and capital markets. It studies issues and changes and publishes position papers. Within the last two years, the growing committee was structured into six or seven sub-committees.


Isabel Meharry, FEIC President & CEO, is looking forward to working with Stevenson. "Kathy and I joined FEI at the same time--she in Vancouver and I in Toronto, until I moved to Vancouver, where she was a local leader. She's done a wonderful job on anything she's taken on, and she's good at getting groups together and hearing everyone's views," says Meharry.

Stevenson began her career in 1981, at Thorne Riddell, Chartered Accountants in Kamloops, British Columbia, and has worked with Arthur Young, Chartered Accountants, in Christ-church, New Zealand; Marathon Telecommunications in Vancouver; Vancity Credit Union in Vancouver and Interior Savings from 2002 to present. She also chairs the audit committee for the board of the British Columbia Lottery Corp. and is a member of Rotary International in Kelowna.

She holds a BA in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, earned her Chartered Accountant designation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia and was elected as a Fellow Chartered Accountant in 2004.

On the home front, Stevenson, 47, says her family "brings me a lot of joy." She is married to Gerry since 1985, and they have two sons, Jay, 13, and Sean, 10. As a self-confessed woman with a "tendency to get involved in a lot of things," Stevenson says life can get a bit "trying, sometimes." With her parents nearby now, she's greatly appreciative of how very supportive her family is. When home, she spends as much time as possible with the children; the family enjoys winter weekends skiing, and she also enjoys running.

It was her boss and mentor at Vancity, Jeremy Hooper (who was then the Vancouver Chapter President), who first got her involved with FEI. At that time, she says she was "keen to meet other financial executives and benefit from the networking and ongoing learning opportunities."

She has served as Vancouver Chapter Director since 1997, holding various positions, including Vice President and President 2001-2. She's been a National Board member since 2000, holding positions including: member of the Finance and Audit Committee, Operations Committee, National Conference Committee member for the 2005 conference, Treasurer, Chair of the Chapter Presidents' Council and Vice President.

"I found fairly early on in my time with FEI that getting involved in a leadership position really gave me a lot more out of the organization. I was able to cement relationships better and understand the services being offered a little better," comments Stevenson. She also finds working with FEIC's national board "very rewarding--especially in the past few years. We've definitely seen some significant growth in the organization and expansion of the services we have to offer members, and thus the value we're adding, and I'm excited to be part of that."
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Author:Heffes, Ellen M.
Publication:Financial Executive
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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