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8/8/2017





Gayle Richmond, our Administration Team Leader, has been travelling from Saskatoon, SK to Anglemont, BC for her annual summer vacation since 2014. This year, she decided to make a few stops to visit some of our employer members along the way. With over 350 co-op and credit union employers who belong to the Plan scattered across eight different provinces and territories – and with Gayle often being the first point of contact for many employers – the opportunity to connect in-person was one that couldn't be passed up. Here she shares her story of her journey out west.

 

A couple of years ago, I thought it would be a great idea to tie in some work and visit some of our employers along the way to Anglemont, my summer vacation destination. A large part of my job involves assisting HR and payroll departments with administering the CSS Pension Plan to their employees, so while I've talked to a number of employer administrators on the phone throughout the years, I wanted to put a face to the name and meet them in person to create more of a personal relationship. This can be challenging when we serve so many employers in so many different locations.

I planned my route and stopped at as many employers as possible over a 1,900 km stretch. I realized there is a lot of highway in between some of the locations and spent a lot of time driving; however, it was worth it in the end.


​Observations along the road

I stopped to meet with seven different employers as I worked my way to the north Shuswap, making some observations along the way:

  • Kindersley Co-op, Kindersley, SK. After years of driving this route and simply passing Kindersley by, it was an interesting experience to pull off Highway 7 and actually stop here. Saskatchewan towns always have a quaint beauty to them, and Kindersley is no exception.

  • Central Alberta Co-op, Red Deer, AB. I stopped here on my way to Calgary mid-week. Anyone who lives in Saskatchewan knows the sense of awe of seeing a storm rolling over the prairie sky; what we sometimes forget is just how powerful Mother Nature can be. Driving into Red Deer the day after such a powerful storm put that reminder on stark display. Uprooted trees, broken power poles and even roof tops littered the streets. But, even with the damage and clean-up, it was business as usual in Red Deer and seemed to be just another summer day on the prairies.

  • Calgary Co-op, Calgary, AB. A familiar quote, "the only thing that is constant is change," is never more in play than in Calgary. I have travelled through and to Calgary more times than I can count; I even lived there briefly many years ago and what always remains the same is how much changes between visits. It is like visiting a new city each time. 

  • Rocky Credit Union and Rocky Mountain House Co-op, Rocky Mountain House, AB.  A sense of familiarity came over me as I neared Rocky Mountain House travelling from Calgary. The landscape was a reminder of the northern Saskatchewan lake country where I spent most of my childhood weekends and summer vacations. The differences, however, became clear as my journey west continued and the flat expanse of the prairies began to morph into the majesty of the Rockies.

  • Williams Lake Credit Union, 100 Mile House, BC branch. After spending the night in Salmon Arm, I continued to the 100 Mile House branch of Williams Lake Credit Union. I was fortunate enough to stay with a former co-worker from the Delisle Credit Union at the end of the work week. A perfect start to my official vacation catching up with old friends and exploring the natural beauty of the area. About 10 days after I was there, the area was evacuated due to the devastating forest fires. It was a surreal and somber feeling trying to comprehend what the residents of the area were dealing with and may still be.

  • Salmon Arm Credit Union, Salmon Arm, BC.  Heading to Salmon Arm from 100 Mile House, it occurred to me that this was my first time travelling this far west. Being on the Trans-Canada Highway, I couldn't help but be amazed at the sheer scale of the project to connect this country from end to end. Perhaps a high school history refresher is in order. My visit to Salmon Arm Credit Union was made mid-week and I 'commuted' to work from Anglemont, enjoying the view of the Shuswap Lake and the mountains. It was definitely a change from my normal work commute from Delisle, SK to Saskatoon. 

Connecting with employers

Along with reveling in the diverse scenery of where our members live and work, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with all of the employers, seeing how they go about their day-to-day work and getting feedback on the Plan from their perspective. I was able to answer some questions, drop off information about our employer administration procedures, retirement planning service, and myCSSPEN for members, where members can register and view their CSS account online.

We also discussed some of the work the Plan will be doing in the coming months and years to engage younger members with their financial future. While retirement may not be the most exciting topic, the Plan is consistently working to expand our digital presence to help strengthen our relationship with younger cohorts and make Plan information more accessible to our members who span from coast to coast to coast. As with any change, this will take time but we appreciate the employer feedback and feel we are on the right track.

It's a two-way partnership between the Plan and employers to help members prepare for retirement, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet a few of our employer administrators in person. While I put on a lot of miles, I enjoyed every minute of it!