University of the Fraser Valley

UFV Top 40 alumni: Shelley Besse — from teller to president at Envision Financial

UFV Top 40 alumni: Shelley Besse — from teller to president at Envision Financial

Besse,-Shelley-LRFrom part-time teller to president of Envision Financial, Shelley Besse’s success follows a simple recipe: work hard, believe in yourself, and invest in the people around you.

A UFV Top 40 Alumni and highly respected leader with extensive knowledge in financial services, Shelley’s focus throughout her career has been facilitating excellent member experiences.

That passion struck early, with three key points contributing to her success.

Firstly, life-long learning is important.

“When I first joined Envision, I had completed one year of university but was uncertain about my educational direction,” she says.

“When I joined the credit union, I discovered I had a real passion for working with people and numbers. When I went back to UFV it was with a new sense of purpose — I wanted to be able to contribute more to my team. Formal education provides a real framework for making decisions and helped me look at ideas from different perspectives.”

Secondly, you don’t always need to look up.

“When you’re looking to grow your career, sometimes the best move isn’t moving up. To increase knowledge and breadth of experience, you may need to look laterally to similar positions in other areas of the organization. I’ve always been willing to take on responsibility for new areas in our organization, gaining invaluable experience and widening my perspective, which make me a better leader.”

Last, but not least, never underestimate your people — or yourself.

“Along the way, people have always taken chances on me — even when it may not have seemed that I had all the credentials or experience. This taught me to never underestimate people’s abilities. We don’t always need to look outside of our organization to solve problems or come up with new ideas. Our people have the knowledge and capability needed to achieve great things.”

She was on hand when ground broke for UFV’s state-of-the-art Agricultural Centre of Excellence, which Envision Financial sponsored to name as the ‘Envision Financial Demonstration Barn’.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Shelley, who looks back at her time at UFV with great fondness.

“I really liked UFV’s small class sizes. The professors were able to interact directly with us as students and it was clear that they truly cared about our learning experience.”

Her education at UFV wasn’t just focused on “textbook” learning — the knowledge acquired was relevant in a real business environment.

“I was able to take what I learned and apply it in real life situations, sometimes even that day.”

In addition to her Business Administration diploma from UFV, Shelley holds an MBA from Royal Roads University and a certificate in financial planning. She’s a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program specializing in strategy and organizational design and received an Operational Risk Management professional designation from the International Council for Operational Risk Management.

She serves as first vice-chair for the Surrey Board of Trade and will be the incoming chair for 2015/16.


The UFV Top 40

 In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the University of the Fraser Valley and the UFV Alumni Association chose UFV’s Top 40 Alumni.

It wasn’t easy to select only 40 outstanding alumni. UFV has welcomed many students into its classrooms and labs over the past 40 years. Thousands of them have graduated and become alumni of the university.

“The UFV Top 40 Alumni exemplify a range of exceptional qualities, from career excellence and leadership to acts of selflessness, courage, creativity, and innovation. We congratulate all of them on their achievements,” said UFV Alumni Association chair Justin P. Goodrich (BA ’12).

The list includes alumni who attended in the early days of Fraser Valley College in the 1970s, those who helped plan and shape the new degree programs during the university-college phase, and recent graduates.

“When I look at this list, I am truly impressed by breadth, depth, and variety to be found in our alumni ranks,” noted Nancy Armitage, Manager of Alumni Engagement. “And it really illustrates the impact that UFV alumni are having in our communities and around the world.”

More than 260 nominations were received for the Top 40 Alumni after a community-wide appeal. Representatives from the UFV Alumni Association and the university then selected the Top 40 based on a set of criteria that included community contributions, commitment to others, career/professional excellence, leadership, creativity/innovation, and acting with selflessness or courage.

See the whole list here.