British Columbia

Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman to head up Vancouver Airport Authority

The chief executive of Vancity is stepping down as head of the credit union to become chief executive of the Vancouver Airport Authority.

Vrooman takes over from CEO Craig Richmond as he prepares to retire in June

Tamara Vrooman will take over as CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority in July, 2020. (VanCity Community Investment Bank)

The chief executive officer of Vancity is stepping down as head of the credit union to become the head of the Vancouver Airport Authority.

Wednesday's announcement follows a record number of layoffs among management  and unionized employees at the airport authority in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tamara Vrooman, who will continue at the helm of Canada's largest community credit union until June 30, takes over the new job effective July 1.

She will be the first female chief executive of the Vancouver Airport Authority. Vrooman says hiring women for leadership roles still doesn't happen often enough.

"We're doing better than we used to, but there's still a long ways to go," Vrooman said.

Crises as challenge

Vrooman, who has spent 13 years as head of Vancity, had to deal with the fallout of the 2008 global financial crash. 

"Crises can be challenging times, but they can also be times where you're forced to take a couple of steps back to really take a look at every aspect of your business and your operation to enable you to take a giant step forward."

In January, as COVID-19 cases started appearing in North America, she said airport authority board directors came to her to find out if she still wanted the job.

"The board did come back to me once it was clear how the pandemic was going to go and said, 'Are you still as excited about this opportunity as you were before?' " Vrooman said. "The answer to that is: Absolutely." 

Vrooman came under fire in 2009 when a group of customers came forward with complaints they were being pressured to pay higher interest rates on their lines of credit.

The credit union had sent letters to 18,000 of its members, urging them to sign amendments to their credit line agreements which would allow the credit union to hike their rates unilaterally.

Vrooman will replace Craig Richmond, who announced in November that he planned to retire in June.

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