Tamara Vrooman

President & Chief Executive Officer, Vancity

“A leader taps into the fullest capacity in a group of people, paints a picture of what's possible and supports the team in making it come to life.” Tamara Vrooman

As President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancity, Canada's largest community credit union, Tamara Vrooman believes that banking plays a vital role in developing a healthy society—building the well-being of people and, at the same time, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the communities in which they live and work. This summarizes Vancity's vision of redefining wealth.

Tamara views the economy as much more than what is written on a balance sheet; it includes the social and natural economies in which we all live. By understanding this interdependence, Vancity takes a very different approach to banking, ensuring its products, services and advice deliver financial, social and environmental results for its more than 534,000 members.

As a member-owned financial co-operative, Vancity, founded in 1946, is ideally suited to operate in an economy that is ever changing; through its close connection with members, Vancity sees what is required to meet their changing needs. This 'member-led innovation' guides Vancity in its business strategies to use its $27.4 billion in members' assets and assets under administration to create community impact. The primary measure of Vancity’s impact is measured by the triple bottom line (social, environmental and economic) assets under administration, currently at 25 per cent and growing.

Under Tamara's leadership, Vancity has earned global recognition for its values-based banking model. Vancity was the first Canadian financial institution invited to join the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of the world's leading sustainable banks and banking co-operatives. In 2019, Vancity hosted 600 bankers, regulators, policymakers, academics, and civil society and youth leaders at a global summit to explore: “Migrants, #MeToo, and Melting Icecaps… Redefining Banking for a Radically Different Future” to mark the 10th anniversary of the GABV, of which she is vice-chair.

Her voice as an advisor is sought by organizations, leaders and governments at all levels—regional, provincial, national and international—whether on the economy, social change, or environmental sustainability, and often at the intersection of all three. She has been invited by Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, and other government and business leaders to share Vancity's business model at international summits and conferences. In 2018, she was invited to interview Former US First Lady Michelle Obama in front of a sold-out audience at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Tamara's achievements include leading Vancity to become the first carbon neutral financial institution in North America and the largest private-sector living wage employer in Canada. She led Vancity’s initiative to tackle the shadow financial system by launching an alternative to predatory payday loans for its members—the Vancity Fair & Fast Loan™. Tamara developed Canada’s first Schedule 1 bank focused exclusively on impact in the Greater Toronto Area, Vancity Community Investment Bank, which she chairs. All of this was achieved while doubling the assets plus assets under administration of the credit union and achieving the highest profits in Vancity’s history.

Vancity was named Canada's Best Corporate Citizen in both 2016 and 2017 by Corporate Knights. In 2018, Vancity was named one of Canada’s Top Employers and in 2019 was named among Canada’s top family-friendly, greenest, and best diversity employers. During her tenure, Vancity has won more than 175 awards, including employer, corporate citizen, innovation, member service, green business, economic development, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, access and inclusion awards, and more. The full list can be viewed here.

Prior to joining Vancity, Tamara served as Deputy Minister of Finance for the Province of British Columbia and as Secretary to the Treasury Board and CEO of the Public Sector Employers' Council where she oversaw the government's annual $100 billion borrowing and cash requirements and developed its $36 billion fiscal plan. Her prior portfolio was as Deputy Minister and Executive Financial Officer for the Ministry of Health.

Tamara pursued post-secondary education at the University of Victoria, earning a Master of Arts in History in 1994 and a Bachelor of Arts with honours in 1991. She also received an Honorary Doctorate (Laws) from Simon Fraser University in 2016 and an Honorary Doctorate (Technology) from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 2013.

On a personal level, Tamara lends her voice and leadership experience to issues related to women, families and children with a particular focus on issues related to equality, inclusion and empowerment.

Board Appointments

  • Vancity Community Investment Bank (Chair)
  • Rick Hansen Foundation (Chair)
  • Federal Climate Change Advisory Panel to the Prime Minister (Co-Chair)
  • Global Alliance for Banking on Values (Vice-Chair)
  • Aga Khan Foundation Canada
  • Vancouver Airport Authority (Committee Chair)
  • Presidents’ Group (Co-founder and former Chair)
  • Impact Canada Initiative (ICI) Advisory Committee
  • International Co-operative Alliance Co-operative Roundtable
  • Peter B. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics (UBC Sauder School of Business)
  • BC Business Council
  • Canadian Credit Card Advisory Council
  • Wealthsimple Foundation

Recognition

  • Order of British Columbia (2019)
  • Together We Can Canadian Champion Award (2019)
  • Excellence in Industry – Association of Women in Finance (2019)
  • Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem (2018)
  • Peter Lougheed Award for Leadership in Public Policy (2016)
  • BC CEO of the Year Award – Major Private Company, Business in Vancouver (2015)
  • BC's Most Influential Women – BC Business Magazine (2015)
  • University of Victoria Celebration of Excellence Anniversary Award (2012)
  • YWCA Women of Distinction Award – Business and the Professions (2011)
  • Women's Executive Network: Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Business in Vancouver: Influential Women in Business Award (2009)
  • University of Victoria Distinguished Alumni Award (2008)
  • Association of Women in Finance: Knowledge and Leadership PEAK Award (2007)
  • Canada's Top 40 Under 40™ (2005)
  • Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Public Service (2003)