On February 5, First Credit Union welcomed its new chief executive officer, Linda Bowyer. Bowyer started her career with Westminster Savings Credit Union and comes to the role with more than 30 years of leadership experience in the financial services industry, including senior roles with TD Bank Financial Group and CIBC. An opportunity to return to her credit union roots initially attracted her to the new role, said Bowyer.
“The reason I wanted to get back into credit unions was all about the corporate social responsibility,” said Bowyer. “This is the time in my career to give back, and First Credit Union aligns to those values.”
Bowyer took over from former CEO Dave Craigen, who retired after a 25-year run that saw the financial institution grow to include nine credit unions and insurance branches in six communities with more than 10,000 members and 40,000 insurance customers.
“Dave left me a gift with this organization,” said Bowyer. “The organization is in great shape and I have an amazing leadership team.”
The feeling is mutual among staff, according to vice president of communications Sandra McDowell.
“We are thrilled to have Linda step into the CEO role,” said McDowell. “Her wealth of experience and passion for people and community make her an excellent fit for our organization, and the community.”
Five weeks into her new role, Bowyer said she is learning and discovering ways to enhance what the organization is already doing.
“We’re proud of the role the credit union has played over many years in this community,” she said. “It’s just about taking that to the next level.”
One way of achieving that is reaching out to younger people and educating them on the credit union philosophy, which Bowyer said she believes mirrors values important to young people today.
“There’s an opportunity, especially with our youth who tend to think about banking as very digital, to actually help them understand what credit unions are all about,” she said. “It actually aligns to their values.”
Bowyer said she has had an active role in community and economic development in every city or town she has lived. Her previous roles have included past president of Kelowna Downtown Business Association, past chair of BC Children’s Hospital Telethon and membership in different community Rotary clubs.
Involvement is something Bowyer said she hopes to continue in Powell River, and so far she and her husband have been kept very busy here and made to feel welcome.
“The community has been awesome. People have been amazing in terms of wanting to get to know us,” she said.
Bowyer and her husband had never visited Powell River before travelling here for her interviews last October, and she said the community continues to surprise them with the depth of different interests and achievements for such a small place.
“The thing that’s been really interesting to me about Powell River are the layers,” said Bowyer. “The arts, the music; it’s a really interesting community and people. It’s not just about hiking.”