Veronica. Accomplishments, Success and Significance

posted March 25th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Veronica what she considered her proudest accomplishments at work to be and she said: “I would have to say two things.  I would have to say in terms of sole contributor effort I am still very, very proud of the way in which I drove CIBC kicking and screaming into the modern century with my How to Close the Books manual.  You have no idea what an enormous innovation it was.  In B.C., instead of it taking the Accounting Department four weeks to close the books – remember we had no computers – they closed the books on the night of October 31st by five o’clock in the morning with not one error from any of the branches and I can’t remember how many damn branches there were all because I had had surgery that summer and I sat in my hospital bed and wrote out methodical steps about how to do it because we had all these new kids who had no clue and new managers, too, because there was always lots of turnover.  I’m very proud of that. The other thing I’m really proud of is the success of the Committee on Women’s Issues. I do see that as hugely successful and I see the success of that not coming from the leadership of the Human Resources executive but rather from the committee itself.  When the Chairman took our recommendations to the Board, they refused to approve the time line which was part of the recommendations developed by the committee which said we will achieve these goals within five years. The Board said we agree with the plan but we are not prepared to publish or agree to the time line because nobody has done this before and we do not want to set the organization up for failure.  The Head of Human Resources made the presentation of our recommendations to the Board and he told the Chairman that the committee would not accept the Board’s position and would not change their recommendations.  And when he came back from the meeting and informed me, I was so mad, I burst into tears.  I said you have no right.  You absolutely, do not speak for the committee; the committee speaks for the committee.  You did not have the authority to take this position and I am totally outraged; this is not appropriate.  So I gave the head of Human Resources the lecture.  I said I do not know what the committee’s view will be but it’s not respectful to the committee to say, okay, your deal got turned down by the Board.  I said we’re business people; we can choose to negotiate or not.  Let’s find out if they want to negotiate.  So he said, well, I’ve told the Chairman and I said well perhaps we can call him again and in fact, the view of the committee was, yes, we accept this amendment because it’s too big a risk for the institution not to do this and we will proceed on faith.”

 

I asked Veronica what she considered to be her greatest success. She said: “It was the genesis of the Committee on Women’s Issues. I felt very, very responsible because of the way I had been the one to march down to the head of Human Resources with a woman from the credit department because one of the women in the credit department had been passed over for a promotion which she truly deserved and we just said, okay, why is this happening.  Why are we bringing in this guy from out there in the boonies and not promoting this very qualified and capable woman. And as a consequence, we arranged to get a bunch of women together to see what the women’s view was within the bank. That was the start of the Committee on Women’s Issues. My success came from the people who walked with me, right, because truthfully I have to give points to specific individuals in Human Resources, because in one case, he was the guy always standing there with me.  I told him I’m really not happy about this and he said ‘I will go with you’.  I said, good, because I need a witness but if I kill anyone, I’ll have to kill you too.”

 

Veronica said she considered her work on the Committee for Women’s Issues one of her two proudest accomplishments and her greatest success at work and her work of greatest significance.

 

I asked Veronica what was next for her. She said: “Oh wow.  Right now we’re in the middle of a very, very big commitment on the family side of things which is also work-related. My son who is now 40 years old is in the building business and has 140 people working directly or indirectly for him. We have financed him by providing the equity for the development of a new construction concept he has come up with. I am probably going to spend two or three years helping him with that while trying to keep my other clients happy and then I think I might just be done and enjoy my grandchildren but I don’t know.”

 

What Strikes Me?

Our work of greatest significance and our greatest accomplishments often require considerable courage

 

We do not act (or succeed) alone

 

Our support can come from men and women

 

 

What Strikes You?

 

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