This Skills4Good Spotlight series shines a spotlight on some amazing corporate employees who generously share their time, talent and treasure with nonprofits as they help build resilient communities. We recognize and thank corporations and their employees for their meaningful social impact in strengthening nonprofits.
Shell Canada is a Skills4Good Client. It is a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell and one of Canada's largest integrated oil companies. It’s been continuously recognized as one of Canada’s Best Employers and Best Diversity Employers.
Skills4Good matched Rebecca with the board of the Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF), a nonprofit that recognizes and celebrates environmental achievements and stewardship in Alberta, establishing an example of excellence for all to follow.
Q: Why did Shell Canada engage Skills4Good?
A: Shell engaged with Skills4Good to provide the opportunity for high potential individuals to get exposure to nonprofit organizations. Specifically, they want to enhance and round out individuals’ toolbox to gain commercial and leadership experience. This provides a platform for individuals to learn from other experience board members, challenge their own skillsets and ultimately contribute to the nonprofit. In addition to this, one of Shell's values is to give back to the community and this is an avenue to do so.
Q: Why did you participate in the Skills4Good program?
A: After graduating university and only working with Shell for about 5 years, I knew I needed to continue to challenge myself and be exposed to new learning opportunities.
Skills4Good provides that opportunity to understand your current skillsets and assess the opportunities for development. By leveraging areas for growth, they were able to successfully pair me with a nonprofit that would develop my skillsets and that would grow me as an individual.
I am continuously driven by the board with the need to give back to foundations that bring a greater good to our community and provide a platform for people to be connected.
Q: Why did you choose to serve on the AEF board?
A: As the global economy embraces the energy transition, I naturally began to develop a desire for environmental needs and success stories. The AEF creates a platform for individuals in Alberta to be recognized and share their environmental contribution stories. Moreover, at this time the AEF was looking for new Finance Board members, and with my desire to bring in corporate knowledge and to be exposed to a Board setting, it naturally was the right direction and fit.
Q: What is the positive impact of your board service on your personal and professional goals?
A: On a professional side, it has given me the opportunity to be exposed to network with a diverse group of experienced individuals. Moreover, it has given be the opportunity to challenge my collaboration and influencing skills. It has also given me the opportunity to bring more of a strategic mindset to the table whilst balancing it with an operational mindset. From a personal side, it has given me the opportunity to be exposed to a diverse group of individuals and to expand my personal growth.
Q: What invaluable contributions do you bring to the AEF board?
A: Having an accounting background, I bring a strategic and financial focus to the board. I like to challenge the status quo to ensure we are delivering the goals of the nonprofit whilst continuing to stretch ourselves. Being new to the board (with several long-standing board members). I have taken the opportunity to ask questions that may not often be thought of while always taking a high-level perspective to ensure there is consistent alignment across the board.
Q: Would you recommend other professionals to serve on a nonprofit board?
A: Yes, I would recommend other professionals to serve on the nonprofit board. Regardless of where individuals are in their career or personal development, nonprofit boards provide a vast experience. It gives one the exposure to have leadership development and the opportunity to give back to the community.
Q: Could you share an inspirational story or insight from your board service?
A: There are several learnings and insights that one gains from board experience. I think the biggest for me is the lack of appreciation that I had for the hard work that an organization puts into ensuring the nonprofit maintains its vision and becomes a going concern. Often in the corporate sector, we tend to get caught up in our day to day activities; however, in a nonprofit the organization is always looking at every aspect of the organization to ensure it is running effectively. At AEF, the Executive Director and staff put their entire heart into the organization. They are always looking out for everyone and are constantly challenging themselves to ensure they are giving back to the community.
“Rebecca is the Board Treasurer of Alberta Emerald Foundation. While fairly new to this role, Rebecca has taken these responsibilities to heart providing the Board with clear and concise financial information and professional advice. She also brings to the Board table her life experiences and advice in executing the Foundation's mission and moving us towards our vision.
The AEF has struggled over that last few years with financial sustainability as the Alberta economy struggles. The Board has come together to address this challenge with a diversity of ideas and potential solutions. We greatly appreciate the new perspectives she brings to the table!”
- - - Mark Brostrom, Alberta Emerald Foundation Board Chair
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.