Nominated by Erickson Credit Union
Over the course of her 43-year career, Val Soltys has held almost every position within Erickson Credit Union, including general manager (since 2006). Under her leadership, the credit union has grown by an average of 7.75 per cent per year. Asset growth is just one way to measure success, though, and Val’s contributions to the credit union, the wider system and the community started much earlier than 2006.
As described by the Erickson board in their nomination for this award, Val has played an important leadership role at the credit union for many years. She motivates staff to perform to the best of their abilities, gladly steps into any role when she’s needed, and focuses on solutions when challenges present themselves, such as recent ones to systems and reporting requirements.
In serving the wider system, Val has been a long-serving member of the Credit Union Small Market Planning Committee, a group that meets regularly to share best practices of operating in smaller, primarily rural, communities. The group discusses and often forges alliances in such areas as banking systems and technology, marketing, human resources and management.
Erickson is the epitome of a credit union with a ‘community’ bond of association. Throughout her career, whether on behalf of the credit union or from a sense of civic duty (we suspect it’s both), Val has served her community well. At the board and committee level she has served the Canadian Legion, Erickson Curling Club, Recreation Association, Erickson Jamboree, local blood donor clinic and, for the past 13 years, the Erickson Chamber of Commerce. She has taught co‐operative courses at the elementary and high schools and mentored other staff to get involved in the teaching process. She reaches out to First Nations communities and attends their functions.
In 2010, the citizens of Erickson elected her mayor, a post she held until 2014. “As mayor, Val approached all matters with an open heart and mind,” the board wrote. “Her support of the community has made this a great place to live, and her style of leadership has inspired others to stand beside her to carry on building this community. She took our community from competing with other communities to co‐operating with them.”
In 2014, from a field of nominees across the west including Brandon, Val was nominated for the YWCA’s Western Manitoba Woman of Distinction Award. Initially reluctant to accept the nomination, she did so because she felt it might inspire young women in the community to rise to their potential. She won the award.
Val has asked that the $1,000 bursary attached to her Order of Merit award go to a student graduating from Erickson Collegiate who demonstrates leadership and mentorship qualities, concern for community and a commitment to personal growth and learning.
Nominated by Portage Credit Union
Dave Omichinski started his career in the system in 1972 as a management trainee with Portage Credit Union. In 1973 he left to embark on a path that took him to Co-operators Credit Union (1973–78), CUCM (1978–83), DGCM (1983–85, where he co-led the first Performance Improvement Program, working with financially impacted credit unions to rethink and retool how they, and other credit unions, conduct business), Heritage and Cambrian (1985–89), then DGCM. The skills he developed in those two decades allowed him to return home in 1992 as general manager (CEO) of Portage Credit Union.
The credit union has thrived under Dave’s leadership. His career experience instilled in him a healthy appreciation for good governance, which became a focus for the board after he arrived. Portage broke $50 million in assets in 1988, $100 million in 2000, $200 million in 2010 and currently sits at just under $300 million. Equity sat at 6.19 per cent in December 2014.
He began serving the wider system in 1978, working on CUCM committees dedicated to model lending and personnel policies, liquidity and financial management, and orderly development. He also serves or served on CUCM’s Management, Human Resources and Insurance advisory committees and the Manitoba Credit Union Collaboration Group. Nationally, he was a member of the Cumis National Appeals Committee.
Dave has been a very active member of his community. Currently president of the Portage & District Chamber of Commerce, he serves or served on the Portage & Area Beautification Committee, Portage Golf Club, Portage Public Art Steering Committee, and Downtown Business Association, which he co-founded. He also sat on the Premier’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Aboriginal employment and moderated two civic election all-candidates forums. In addition to formal committees, a long list of organizations and initiatives dedicated to crime prevention, community engagement, redevelopment, and other efforts have benefitted from his enthusiasm, knowledge and expertise.
His belief in community service is contagious. In 2000, Portage Credit Union employees were awarded the Volunteer Award for Manitoba Business from the Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg. For 17 consecutive years, 100 per cent of PCU employees have supported the United Way through bi-weekly payroll deduction.
Dave received the chamber’s Executive of the Year award in 2002, the credit union was named Business of the Year in 2004, and in 2013 Dave was named Portage la Prairie’s Citizen of the Year.
“Dave lives and breathes the co-operative principles, willingly acting as a valuable resource to community members as well as fellow credit union system members,” the Portage board said in its nomination of Dave. “He’s a testament to people helping people.”
Dave has asked that the $1,000 bursary attached to this award go to a 2016 graduate of Portage Collegiate Institute who will be furthering their education, with a preference to a student going into the business world.