Prior to joining the HSS team in 2013, I trained and obtained my designation at a firm in Timmins, Ontario. I was very fortunate to have many great learning experiences there and to have met many great community members who I still stay in touch with regularly and whom I consider to be lifelong friends.
Moving up there at first was mainly for work as I did not know anybody from town. However, I learned very quickly about the warmth and kindness of the community members. I made friends very quickly with my colleagues who exposed me to all of what Northern Ontario living had to offer, including the great outdoors, ice-fishing and snowmobiling. However, I must say, the most fulfilling part of my stay in Timmins was in getting involved in the community through my role as a treasurer for a local charity.
Presently, and for the past three years, I have been the Treasurer of an education-based charity called Science Timmins Inc. I was first introduced to the organization through a colleague of mine who was a committee member and whose children were enrolled in its programs. She told me how the organization had a presence in the community for over 40 years and that its members worked very hard to send Northeastern Ontario students to national competitions like the Canada-Wide Science Fair. She also told me that there was an opening on their Board for someone with financial expertise to act as their Treasurer.
I felt this was an excellent opportunity for me to give back to the community as well as to help develop my networking and communication skills and so I decided to run for the position. I had never been on a Board of Directors before. I knew from my experiences as an auditor that this type of role would give me a personal insight as to how organizations are run and how decisions are ultimately made.
My first call of duty from the organization was an easy one in helping to organize its upcoming regional science fair. Many students from various school boards had worked hard to put together amazing projects thanks to the teachers and the mentors of Science Timmins’ help and guidance. I was responsible for handing out awards, certificates, medals and even scholarships on stage to the successful students. From this vantage point, I could see many things; the joy and excitement on the faces of the students for what their hard work had produced; the proud teachers and educators rallying behind their students, and even community businesses showing their support through sponsorship and donations. What I noticed even more was how passionate the community was in coming together to celebrate science.
As time progressed I learned that Science Timmins Inc. had developed a full calendar’s worth of programs that helped grow its name and reputation in the community over the years. Programs such as the Robotics Challenge and Software Engineering allow students to learn and discover applied scientific methods as well as explore their creativity and ingenuity. The Outreach program enables the organization to perform visits to communities throughout Northeastern Ontario and involve people of all ages and backgrounds with workshops and interactive activities. From getting involved in these other activities, I was able to further appreciate the diversity and breadth of our organization’s reach.
What I particularly enjoy is in working with a bright set of directors. Our Board is comprised of a diverse set of individuals in education, legal, medical and IT and engineering professionals. I have taken great pride in working closely with these dedicated individuals and for having the opportunity to communicate and share my financial and business insight. I have had the chance to develop my communication skills by presenting financial reports and budgets during our board meetings, discussing policies and by-laws and recommending courses of action for our organization. In addition, I prepare our charity returns and perform the organization’s government reporting. Two other important skills that I have learned from my role as Treasurer include fundraising, which I have done by organizing and hosting Seafood Dinner galas, as well as grant writing for both provincial and federal applications.
This role of Treasurer has enabled me to see the operational side of a business and wear a different hat that I otherwise would not wear. I feel that the role continuously challenges me and develops my skills in critical thinking and judgment and I believe that it has helped me to better understand my clients and their operations when serving them. In hindsight, I truly believe that Science Timmins’ slogan of “Play, Discover, Learn,” is a good way to describe what the journey of being its Treasurer has meant to me!