Thank you. I can’t believe it’s 25 years; time went by so quickly. For me, First National is more than just somewhere I work, it’s a second family.
What brought you to First National?
Prior to joining, I worked at Laurentian Bank. I wasn’t enjoying the bank atmosphere. Kathy Lillie and I previously both worked together at a company called Adelaide Capital. Kathy referred me to a position in Commercial and I’ve been here ever since.
It pays to know people.
I’ve been fortunate because every job I’ve ever had was the result of a referral.
What was it like when you started here?
My first position was in Commercial Funding. I quickly realized that it was necessary to be able pivot to do what needed to be done. We all wore many hats. In addition to my role in funding, I also looked after what’s known as borrower-pays-own-taxes files, mortgage renewals and a daily shift covering reception. I remember distinctly that Moray Tawse would empty four fax machines and give me the stacks of paper to handle. That was important because deals were faxed, and that meant revenue.
Speaking of fax machines, what was technology like 25 years ago?
In comparison to today, we were in the stone age. We had a big blue typewriter that we used to type CMHC 530M forms. I still remember that typewriter because it was noisy and you never wanted to make a mistake because if you did, you had to start the form all over again. Back then, we had one full-time IT person – Rick Stewart.
You joined not long before First National celebrated its 10th anniversary in business.
That’s right. I remember the celebration we had in the boardroom. That was the first time meeting the entire team. I figured the fastest way to get to know everyone was to pick up the trays of food and go around the room. It was the beginning of some lifelong friendships.
Has progress been made in building a more diverse, inclusive culture at First National?
When I started, women did not occupy any of the senior positions. Today, women aren’t just in management roles, they are also in executive roles. We have established a Women’s Committee where women empower each other and we celebrate Women’s Day.
What is your favorite career moment?
That’s tough because there are so many but if I must narrow it down to one, I will say being here when we reached our first $1 billion in mortgages under administration. That was a huge milestone.
Is First National still a place to build a career?
Absolutely. This is a company that puts a lot of emphasis on learning and development. We have a learning network and the option to job shadow in other departments. Our Commercial division recently created a Connections program to match mentors and mentees and it’s been a huge success.
How do you measure your success?
Seeing my former colleagues succeed in reaching their goals and knowing I played a role as a mentor and motivator. Their success is my success.
If you’d like to join us in congratulating Rita on her career milestone, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.