After over 30 years of service with Westoba Credit Union, Shawna Wilkins – Financial Planner, will be retiring on January 29th.
Shawna will be missed in many ways, but one of her key attributes was her knowledge of Westoba and how integral each position in the organization was tied to another. Shawna began her career at Westoba in 1990. She started out as Bank Teller (now Member Service Representative). She worked her way through roles as Head Teller, Member Service Representative (now a Financial Consultant), Office Supervisor, and into her most recent role as Financial Planner with Westoba Financial Solutions Ltd.
When asked about where her interest in financials came from, Shawna shares it runs in the family. “Our dad was always asking us math problems and equations,” Shawna adds. “Actually, three of my four sisters were working in financial institutions at the same time. One of my sisters was a financial planner at the same time as me, with a different credit union. We’re kind of about finances.”
Having a heart full of compassion and an innate curiosity helped grow Shawna’s career. When she started at the credit union, she had the desire to keep learning as much she could. She recounts studying in the late 90s for her certified financial planning designation while regularly taking her sons snowboarding in Bottineau, North Dakota.
“Even as an MSR, I was taking my financial planning courses. I would take my books when my kids were snowboarding, and I would study at the same time. I’d sit at the picnic table and do my homework. Sometimes outside,” says Shawna.
Shawna’s longest role was as Office Supervisor in the Killarney branch which was for 10 years. She recalls one summer taking on the position of professional “office bug swatter” while serving members during renovations. “They did construction on the building, they redid the whole thing, and it was half gone as we worked. There were bugs all over the floor, it was a nightmare,” laughs Shawna.
Renovations of Westoba’s Killarney Branch (Courtesy Shawna Wilkins)
In her supervisory role, Shawna crossed paths with many employees, including one MSR in Michelle Dyck, who is now Assistant Branch Manager in Killarney.
“It has always been a pleasure working with Shawna, she is friendly and very knowledgeable in what she does. Shawna has always been very community-based; she is on a few boards. What made her good at her job is she was always learning and listening. She will be missed when she retires,” says Michelle.
Jackie Olver, Training Specialist with Westoba, worked with Shawna at the Killarney branch starting in 2014. They met as Shawna was transitioning from her role as Office Supervisor into Financial Planning; she was a great resource for those just learning the ropes.
“Shawna is a very kind and caring individual and really loved working with members. She’s the type of person that would help you out with whatever you needed whether it was job–related or not without judgement,” says Jackie.
“She also talked about some of the motorcycle trips that she and her partner took on their Honda Valkyrie motorcycle. I never did see her all decked out in her leathers, but I am sure she was a closeted renegade,” adds Jackie.
As for advice for those entering the financial services sector. Shawna believes her drive to be a life-long learner allowed her to progress professionally. “I just think things are changing so fast, and you have to keep up. There are so many great courses online, I think training is important.” Shawna reminds us that in the rural communities, like she served in, the credit union plays a vital social role. “With the older people, we want them to get online and do their banking at home, but it’s the one time they get to talk to somebody in person. For some, it’s their visit of the week.”
As the restrictions hopefully ease, Shawna looks forward to spending time with her two sons that live out of province and her two grandkids. With that, her interest in travel will also be ignited as she looks to more adventures with her husband and getting physically fit. Living very close to a golf course, Shawna isn’t shy to admit many more rounds of golf may be in her future.
“This last year has put into perspective what’s important. If I wasn’t thinking about retiring before, I am now because I should do it while I can travel. I want to see my kids. I want to see my grandkids. I want to see my Mom. Life is short.”
Rhonda Oakden, Manager of Financial Solutions lauds Shawna’s many great traits on display in her last role at Westoba. “Judging by the work that Shawna has done with Westoba and all of the things she has contributed, I’m sure her retirement will be more than fulfilling. Best wishes on your retirement, Shawna.”
Shawna has contributed thirty years of experience to Westoba Credit Union, and her achievements will not be forgotten. Join us in wishing Shawna the best in the next step of her life – wherever it might take her.