Friday, 11 August 2017 06:42

Swift Current business chamber appoints new CEO

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The new CEO of the Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure the chamber is a strong voice for the business community.

Karla Wiens, a financial planner and long-time resident, spoke about her role after the formal announcement of her appointment, Aug. 2.
“I want to ensure that our membership receives value and service and to make this happen is going to require a huge commitment of time and effort, and I’m up for the challenge,” she said. “I want to know your business stories, what challenges you currently face, so I can address those issues at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. I will champion for the continued success of our business community, from which we all benefit as residents of southwest Saskatchewan.”
Her priority is to connect with the chamber’s membership base and she wants to ensure the activities of the chamber are relevant to the business community.
“My biggest challenge will be connecting with our membership,” she said. “That’s going to take some time, but I’m eagerly looking forward to sitting down. My goal is to meet and have a conversation with each and every one of our chamber members and also actively try to recruit new businesses to belong to the Chamber of Commerce, because I firmly believe we have a lot to offer. There’s all kinds of opportunities that businesses can take advantage of if they’re aware of it.”
She is passionate about business and the role of entrepreneurs in the community, which is also the reason why she decided to apply for the CEO position at the chamber.
“The easy answer for me is I love the entrepreneurial mind,” she said. “I love talking to business people – the innovation, the risk taking, the constant change in the face of their business environments. It’s always interesting conversations, and I firmly believe that a thriving business community is essential for the rest of the community as well to thrive in and continue, and Swift Current is doing a pretty good job so far.”
She considers the Swift Current area to be an attractive investment opportunity for the private sector for various reasons.
“We have a thriving business community here,” she said. “Our City Council is firmly established and fully supports our business community. We have a very strong active board who wants to promote the local business community, and I think we have a loyal base of residents here in Swift Current and surrounding region in southwest Saskatchewan that we’re all engaged to keep our businesses thriving.”
She has lived in Swift Current for 44 years. Her parents moved back to Swift Current when she was a young girl. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture, horticulture and landscape design from the University of Saskatchewan and she is a certified financial planner who has worked for various financial institutions. Her husband was born and raised in Swift Current and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Brock Friesen, the chairperson of the Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said the appointment of the new CEO is an exciting moment for the organization.
“Karla brings a lot of qualities that we’re looking for in a CEO,” he mentioned. “She graduated from here, actually she’s from here, she has a family here, she’s got a lot of financial planning background, she’s a mortgage specialist. So she’s got a lot of numbers on her side and knows a lot of people here. I think that’s going to help her hit the ground running as we go forward.”
The chamber’s search for a new CEO started after the resignation of the previous CEO, Clayton Wicks, on June 23. The position is a contract for services, and the board issued a request for proposals that closed on July 10. A three-person evaluation committee reviewed the submitted bids and interviewed the qualified candidates.
“We had some highly qualified applicants come forward, which I may add, really reflects how talented our business community really is here in Swift Current and surrounding area,” he said. “We had a committee that did an extensive job to evaluate these applicants and they brought forward a strong recommendation.”
According to Friesen there was some urgency for the chamber to find a new CEO to attend to the organization’s affairs.
“During the summer months there’s a lot of preparation that needs to go in for certain events, especially SCBEX,” he said. “It’s a big event for us coming up in October and we need someone in place that has a solid idea of where we’re going and we needed to fill that position very quickly.”
This appointment will assist the chamber to maintain momentum with regard to regular events such as Chamber on Tap, a networking event for businesses, and the Lunch and Learn educational sessions.
“I think that’s an opportunity for us to speak to our members and our non-members alike,” he said. “We need to keep the ball rolling on that. … We really need to get our name out to our non-members that haven’t really seen us in the public, going out, pounding the pavement so to speak to the companies and businesses that we haven’t seen yet, get some recognition that way, and I think Karla is the one to do that.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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