“CWB has the capabilities of a big bank while still maintaining a personal touch with its clients and its employees,” says Vanessa, who started with CWB as Assistant Vice President on the Credit Risk Management team and has worked on a multitude of special projects since her arrival at CWB’s Edmonton headquarters four years ago. “I love the access to our leadership and the openness to moving new ideas forward.”
Two months into her position with CWB, Vanessa approached the human resources team to propose an employee-led initiative with a vision to inspire, support and develop women at CWB. With almost 30 years experience in commercial banking, Vanessa has taken on many leadership opportunities to support women in finance, both internally and externally, and wanted to bring this energy to her new employer.
“What an incredible response I received! Right from the start, I had a green light and great support to make it happen,” says Vanessa.
Fast forward a few years, this team, called CWB Women, now has Women Champions in every branch and partner company. The team has hosted over 20 events engaging over 1,000 individuals, and has raised over $100,000 for organizations in our communities. “The bank at all levels, right to our board members who have been active in our events, has been 110 per cent behind our initiative.”
Opportunities for success
Being involved with special projects whenever possible is something that has become engrained into Vanessa’s work environment at CWB. One initiative she co-led to help move forward a major project with the bank earned her a CWB Pillars of Excellence Award, the prestigious honour presented to team members for their exceptional leadership efforts, cultural contributions and business results.
“We put together an amazing team of 25 individuals from across the bank, and encouraged them to have a voice in shaping our project. They brought fantastic ideas to the table, and these ideas helped us not only meet but exceed even the stretch goals we were tasked with.
Always quick to raise her hand for new opportunities, Vanessa explains that working on so many different special projects has helped familiarize her with various areas and teams within the bank she would have never encountered otherwise.
Buy-in for change
Vanessa sees the bank as an environment where people are at the forefront of everything that’s being done. Right up to the executive level, Vanessa sees how invested the bank is in the employees, and how any new initiative is always viewed through an employee lens.
“Whenever there’s a new change coming through that impacts our teams, we don’t take a ‘one size fits all approach’ but instead, we have a People First team that takes a focused look at the change and how it impacts our various teams,” explains Vanessa. “We make sure we address the needs of each impacted group in a way that will support their needs.”
And the People First team isn’t the only group looking into the employee culture impact with change. “When we have launched major initiatives, such as the recent launch of our new brand, our entire executive team is involved in delivering in-person presentations to our entire staff,” Vanessa notes.
“That is a tremendous commitment to our people, and as an employee, it makes you truly feel the investment the bank is making in you.”
People first — always
Moving to what she’s found to be a family-like atmosphere within CWB’s work culture has helped Vanessa connect the passions she has for supporting entrepreneurs.
“I have been a commercial banker throughout my career, and it is wonderful to work for a bank whose key focus is to be relentlessly proactive for business owners in Canada,” says Vanessa. Communicating to the market that we are “obsessed with your success” is a bold passionate statement that really resonates with the relationships we want to have with our customers.
“We’re not trying to be all things to all people. We have a clear focus on who we are supporting, and we have the right teams to deliver on our promises.""It is an exciting time to be at CWB, and I am proud to be a member of the CWB team.”