First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

February 06, 2012 13:45 ET

First West Credit Union Names Shelley Besse as President of Envision Financial

From Teller to President-Besse Shares Her Keys to Success

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 6, 2012) - First West Credit Union today announces that Shelley Besse has been named president of Envision Financial. Since joining the company as a service representative in 1984, Besse excelled in her career, holding a number of increasingly senior positions within the organization including her most recent role as First West's senior vice-president of operations, sales and member experience.

"I am thrilled that Shelley has accepted the role of president in our Envision Financial division," says First West CEO Launi Skinner. "Shelley is a life-long Lower Mainland resident who understands the unique needs of our local communities. She has also worked in almost every area of our organization, enabling her to bring a deep understanding of our business and our priorities to her new role. As a champion of Lean, the continuous improvement strategy we are embedding enterprise-wide, Shelley is a leader in elevating our member experiences."

"The Envision team is talented and committed to making a difference in the lives in our members and in our communities," says Besse. "I am proud of their ability to build deep and meaningful relationships with our members, enabling us to deliver the products they need to achieve their life goals. I am excited to build on our past successes as we continue to expand our relationships and increase our presence in our local communities."

Besse's journey at Envision is an incredible one. Since joining Envision 27 years ago as a service representative, she has held a number of positions in the organization including branch manager; manager, financial planning; assistant vice-president, branch operations; vice-president, sales and service and vice-president, risk management and operations. In 2009, Besse was appointed to lead First West through its transition efforts, successfully bringing its two regional brands, Envision Financial and Valley First, together under the First West family and evolving the organization's new operating model.

Besse credits three key learnings that have led to her success:

Life long learning is important-at the right time

When Besse first joined Envision, she had completed one year of university but was uncertain about her educational direction. "I was just learning for the sake of learning," she comments. "When I joined the credit union, I discovered I had a real passion for working with people and numbers. When I went back to university it was with a new sense of purpose-I wanted to be able to contribute more to my team. Formal education provides a real framework for making decisions and helps you look at ideas from different perspectives."

You don't always need to look up

"When you're looking to grow your career, sometimes the best move isn't moving up," says Besse. "To increase your knowledge and breadth of experience, you may need to look laterally to similar positions in other areas of the organization. I have always been willing to take on responsibility for new areas in our organization. This has given me invaluable experience, widened my perspective and made me a better leader."

Never underestimate your people-or yourself

"Along the way, people have always taken chances on me-even when it may not have seemed that I had all the credentials or experience," says Besse. "This has taught me to never underestimate people's abilities. We don't always need to look outside of our organization to solve problems or come up with new ideas. Our people have the knowledge and capability needed to achieve great things and they have shown this time and again."

Among her many credentials, Besse holds an MBA from Royal Roads University, a certificate in financial planning, and she is also a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, specializing in strategy and organizational design. Most recently she received an Operational Risk Management professional designation from the International Council for Operational Risk Management, and she currently serves as a director for the Surrey Board of Trade.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $6.2 billion in assets under administration, 167,000 members and 1,300 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit

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