Her son introduces her as “Herlinda Burt, Credit Union lady.” He cannot remember a time when she has not worked for the Summerland and District Credit Union, but now after almost 28 years, she has retired.
“I’ve loved working for the Credit Union,” said Burt “It was a very hard decision to come to, to retire. It’s a wonderful amazing group of people to be leaving and very difficult.”
Burt started out as a part-time teller and progressed through many different positions, ending up as Manager, Human Resources and Marketing.
Because the Summerland Credit Union is a single branch, Burt explained that they are able to write their own rules and respond to what the members want. She is very proud of some of the personnel policies that she helped to develop.
“The Credit Union management is very much about growing and developing the skills of the people that we have. We’ve always invested in our employees and I think that’s pretty amazing,” said Burt. “We have an amazing staff.”
The equation to Burt was always very simple. She passionately believed that if the staff were happy, then the members (customers) would be happy also.
“One of the things that make people happy at work is an employer that understands that there is something besides work in their lives,” explained Burt. “They have families, they have children who might get sick, they have older parents that need care…life happens. So we’ve always tried very much to accommodate our staff.”
Team work was also something the staff was familiar with. They pitched in and helped each other out. As a single mother of two at the time, a son and a daughter, Burt really appreciated this team spirit.
“For me that had to happen quite a bit because my son is autistic. Sometimes I would just have to leave because the sitter didn’t know what to do with him anymore,” explained Burt. “The Credit Union was always very accommodating and I know that I paid that back tenfold, because to me that was hugely important.”
Because she thought what they did at her place of employment was so incredible, she entered them into a competition that B.C. Business Magazine held, called The Best Company In B.C. To Work For. They successfully placed on the top ten list for the seven years she entered them and won the top finance company for the three years that the category existed.
It was a tragedy that led Burt to the decision to retire.
“I lost my brother to a logging accident a couple of years ago,” she said. “It really made me think that it might be time for me to start simplifying life a little bit and spending more time with my kids, husband and grandchild.”
In order to share her knowledge and give everyone time to get used to the idea that she would be leaving, Burt gave her notice last June.
“Hopefully I’ve done well enough over the years that I leave a bit of a legacy behind and hopefully leave the place well,” Burt stated. “The culture is there and it didn’t just get created by Herlinda. It got created as a team and it isn’t going to go anywhere just because I’m out the door. That culture will go on. That is what made it a great place to work and that’s why I stayed all this time.”
Even though she has retired, Burt is leaving the door open to future opportunities and possibilities. In the meantime, she intends to visit family, do some camping and fishing with her husband and pursuing her love of photography.
“My camera finger is just itching and I’m looking forward to being able to roam around, camera in hand,” she said.
Burt also looks forward to re-inventing herself.
“One of the things that will be interesting is to start to create Herlinda, and not Herlinda from the Credit Union,” she said. “This is a whole new adventure for me. I’m a little scared because it’s different. At the same time, I’m excited too.”
Laughing she said, “My purpose now will be…to not be the Credit Union Lady!”