Over the course of her 43-year career, Val Soltys has held almost every position within Erickson Credit Union including, since 2006, general manager. Under her leadership, the credit union has grown by an average of 7.75 per cent per year. Asset growth is just one way to measure success, though, and Val’s contributions — to the credit union, the wider system and the community — started much earlier than 2006.
As described by the Erickson board in their nomination of her for this award, Val has played an important leadership role at the credit union for many years. She motivates staff to perform to the best of their abilities, gladly steps into any role when she’s needed, and focuses on solutions when challenges present themselves, such as recent ones to systems and reporting requirements.
In serving the wider system, Val has been a long-serving member of the Credit Union Small Market Planning Committee, a group that meets regularly to share best practices of operating in smaller, primarily rural, communities. The group discusses — and often forges alliances in — such areas as banking systems and technology, marketing, human resources and management.
Erickson is the epitome of a credit union with a ‘community’ bond of association, and throughout her career Val has, whether on behalf of the credit union or from a sense of civic duty (we suspect it’s both) served her community well. At the board and committee level she has served the Canadian Legion, Erickson Curling Club, Recreation Association, Erickson Jamboree, local blood donor clinic and, for the past 13 years, the Erickson Chamber of Commerce. She has taught co‐operative courses at the elementary and high schools and mentored other staff to get involved in the teaching process. She reaches out to First Nations communities and attends their functions.
In 2010, the citizens of Erickson elected her mayor, a post she held until 2014.
“As mayor, Val approached all matters with an open heart and mind,” the board wrote. “Her support of the community has made this a great place to live and her style of leadership has inspired others to stand beside her to carry on building this community. She took our community from competing with other communities to co‐operating with them.”
In 2014, from a field of nominees across the west including Brandon, Val was nominated for the YWCA’s Western Manitoba Woman of Distinction Award. Initially reluctant to accept the nomination, she did so because she felt it might inspire young women in the community to rise to their potential. She won the award.
Val has asked that the $1,000 bursary attached to her Order of Merit award go to a student graduating from Erickson Collegiate who demonstrates leadership and mentorship qualities, concern for community and a commitment to personal growth and learning.