NOMINATED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SWAN VALLEY CREDIT UNION
Alex Eggie was nominated for an Order of Merit award by the board of directors of Swan Valley Credit Union (SVCU), where he served for 24 years, from 1988 to 2012. Among the many highlights of his service was the introduction of patronage payments — in 1997, when equity surpassed 10 per cent — a strong selling feature of SVCU that continued strong for several years. He was also active on SVCU’s new building committee, which in 2008 successfully built one of the first LEED-certified credit union buildings in Manitoba. He also brought the idea of owning an insurance agency to SVCU, which would have one of the first credit union-owned insurance agencies in Manitoba. SVCU now has an insurance agency in Swan River and The Pas.
Alex also devoted himself to serving the wider system. He was an early member of Presidents’ Forum, the precursor of Executive Forum, which brings together presidents and chairs, and now all directors, for two days of governance professional development and knowledge sharing. In 2000, credit unions in his district elected him to represent them on the board of Credit Union Central of Manitoba (CUCM), where he served nine years and chaired the Audit & Conduct Review and Resolutions & Bylaws committees and was a member of the Investment Committee. He was a vocal supporter of having elected local directors represent districts on the CUCM board.
He was quick to share knowledge he gained through the CUCM board, or elsewhere, with his own and other credit unions in his district. He embraced innovation, technology and education. At his suggestion, CUCM directors received their own computers to reduce paper and to communicate more efficiently.
He stressed that credit union board members attend the convention and CUCM annual meeting, to have the opportunity to network and learn firsthand what was taking place in the system, at all levels, and in the industry. He also insisted that SVCU directors be trained properly through CuSource and continue their education through workshops, seminars and other CUCM meetings.
In his view, directors should be involved directly with the community by being visible at local events and supporting credit union initiatives that benefitted the community, and CUCM’s commitment to larger projects that benefited many Manitobans.
Alex’s community service started in 1962, as a leader with 4-H. He would go on to serve as a board member or director of the Big Woody Community Centre (55 years and counting!), Wellman Lake United Church Camp, Canadian Co-op Implements, and the Swan River United Church.
Alex and his wife Betty farm with family in the Big Woody District of the Swan River Valley. Originally farming with four brothers, sharing machinery, time and talents is testament to Alex’s Co-Operative nature. He continues to farm with family.
Alex has asked that the $1,000 Manitoba Credit Union Order of Merit bursary go to a student graduating from Swan Valley Regional Secondary School who plans to pursue post-secondary education in business, agriculture, or a related trade; is a current or former member of a Swan Valley-based 4-H Club; and is active in the community through volunteerism, coaching or participating in sport.
NOMINATED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF STEINBACH CREDIT UNION
Russ Fast served on the board of Steinbach Credit Union (SCU) for 23 years, over which time he sat on or chaired seven committees, including its executive committee. Despite that impressive length of valuable service, he is best known in the provincial and national systems for his 18 years as Chair of the CUCM board. He retired from both boards in 2019.
Russ was elected as SCU’s representative on the CUCM board in 1998, a time when CUCM’s business and funding models were beginning to evolve into their current form. Russ played an important role in those changes, and many other significant initiatives and developments during his tenure, whether in the form of shepherding CUCM’s efforts or bringing his considerable knowledge and expertise directly to strategy. Not least of these were perennial national and regional conversations about the centrals themselves, about which his position was steadfast: that any new central configuration needed to provide more benefit to Manitoba credit unions than they were already getting from CUCM.
Russ was involved at a high level on affiliated boards and committees, including his chairmanship of the CUMIS and Credential Financial boards, as well as the board of the Canadian Credit Union Association and two of its committees, Governance & HR, and the Hall of Fame. On the CUCM and SCU boards, he chaired or served on most of their committees over his many years of service.
Half of his tenure was during double-digit asset growth which, combined with major system initiatives to bring improvements to credit union core and back-office services, required a steady, knowledgeable chair and board.
Upon his retirement, incoming CUCM Chair Paul Holden, pointed to Russ’s focus on the relationship between CUCM and the Deposit Guarantee Corporation, where Russ “always clearly articulated (his) views on the important issues affecting credit unions and advocated for a balance between regulation and the system’s ability to grow and be effective.
“Russ (also) oversaw many improvements in CUCM’s governance processes, including the implementation of a director peer assessment process and a more competency-based director nomination process,” Holden said, adding that “his ability to identify new opportunities and new ways of getting things done served CUCM and credit unions well.”
As an entrepreneur and business executive, he is President and CEO of the Russ Fast Group of Companies, a private equity firm he founded in 1989. Outside his business and CUCM work, he is past chair of the Fresh Water Fish Marketing Corporation and South East Helping Hands, a Steinbach-area food bank. Boards of numerous other for-profit, non-profits and community development committees have benefitted from his service over the years.
Russ has been recognized across Canada for his governance and strategic capabilities, and in 2015 was chosen as the Executive in Residence for the Rotman/CUES Governance and Leadership Institute.
Russ has asked that the $1,000 bursary attached to his award go to a student graduating from Steinbach Regional Secondary School who will be pursuing post-secondary studies in business.
NOMINATED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF ENTEGRA CREDIT UNION
Gord Kirkwood spent his entire career in the Manitoba credit union system. His first job was at Astra, in 1977, tearing carbon paper out of T-5 slips. After four years’ working his way up and through a variety of positions there, he moved to CUCM to become a Customer Service Representative (CSR), where he remained eight years before Assiniboine hired him as Controller in 1989.
His hiring in 1997 by Holy Spirit Credit Union began an impressive revitalization of a credit union that many at the time believed could no longer survive. Under his leadership, Holy Spirit (now Entegra) grew from $75 million in assets at one branch to, at the time of his retirement in 2017, four branches with $650 million in assets, an online division, a commercial banking centre and a wealth management office. For many years, Entegra was recognized as one of Manitoba’s fastest growing and most successful companies.
Gord played an integral role in advancing technological innovation in the Manitoba system. He was actively involved in the earliest deployments of ATM technology in the province, and was on the lead conversion team to deliver the Profile (CUBS) banking system to Manitoba credit unions, including creating the very first Asset Liability Matching (ALM) module for the banking system. As he progressed in his career, Gord led other innovative projects, including the introduction of computer network infrastructure (LAN) technology and data mining/business intelligence analysis. He also helped introduce digital video board marketing technology to the Winnipeg retail landscape.
Over the years, Gord served on the Technology Governance Council, DGCM’s and CUCM’s Management Advisory Committees, CUCM’s Democratic Control Review Committee, and chaired Entegra’s district. Organizations such as Celero Solutions relied on Gord’s counsel in his long-standing role on the eroWorks Retail Banking Governance Council. Gord always carried out his duties with the best interests of the credit union system in mind, which was reflected when he was chosen, in 2015, to represent his district on the CUCM board, where served as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.
Outside the system, Gord was involved at his local community centre for several years.
Gord has asked that the $1,000 bursary attached to his award go to a student graduating from Maples Collegiate who has demonstrated, through volunteering and other activities, a commitment to community service. Entegra has a longstanding relationship with Maples Collegiate, which is across the street from the credit union’s Jefferson Avenue branch in Winnipeg’s North End.