Rita Lord began as St. Michaels University School’s Chief Financial Officer in December.
Rita is originally from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, located just outside of Montreal. She went to Concordia University for her undergraduate degree: a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in accounting, and followed that up with an accounting diploma from McGill to become a chartered accountant. Rita worked accounting and account manager jobs in Quebec and Ontario before coming to Victoria in 1992. She has worked with non-profit and for-profit organizations in Victoria, including most recently as Finance Director of the Victoria Foundation. Since 2002, Rita has also taught accounting courses through Royal Roads University.
Rita and her husband Derek have been married for 33 years. They have two daughters, Stephanie and Kendra, and an 8-year-old Boston terrier-poodle cross named Lucy.
Let’s get to know Rita better:
What drew you to SMUS?
It was the fact that it’s an education environment – which really appeals to me, the school’s solid reputation in the community and the longevity of staff members. When you talk to people here and in the community they have positive experiences with the school. There’s always something new and dynamic going on in what’s already going to be a changing environment: education. To me, the combination of an organization that is obviously committed to their employees, their community and their mission was my motivation to become part of SMUS. The people here are happy to be here which makes it a positive environment all around.
What are your early observations of SMUS?
I’d have to say that SMUS is the most welcoming organization I’ve ever been at. Everybody has made the effort to make me feel welcome – faculty, staff, parents and students. I think it was good that I started around Christmastime but I also can see that warmth is part of the culture here.
What was your first-ever job?
I worked at an answer service as a high school job one summer. I sat at one of those large old school switchboards where you’re plugging in cords. I had two switchboards to look after and I spent my summer answering calls, taking messages and relaying messages.
What do you do on a day off?
I like reading and going for walks, and I feel like I spend a lot of time driving my 16-year-old around.
What should parents know about your team in the finance office?
Like every teacher or staff member you meet, our team is just as committed to your kids and their success. Everything we do is either to help the faculty have more time with the students or help parents with anything they need to do related to finances. In different ways, we all work toward the ultimate goal, which is providing the best possible education to the children who are in our care.
What is one goal you want to achieve in your lifetime?
Having a happy family that remains close together forever.
What are you passionate about that the SMUS community might not know about you?
I love mystery novels. I think I have a paperback version of almost every Agatha Christie novel. It started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when I was young. I think that interest goes hand-in-hand with accounting because it’s problem-solving; seeing if you can solve the mystery before the end of the book.
What is one achievement in your professional life you’re most proud of?
I’m proud that I’ve always been someone that people go to when they’re seeking a balanced view. Especially in a role like this, I have an overall view and like to be the go-to person or a sounding board when someone needs help problem solving.
If you could time travel, when would be the first place you go?
To a time, however far in the future that may be, when we can go and visit the moon and venture out there.
What are you currently reading?
Born to Die by Lisa Jackson. I’m also reading By the Numbers and Beyond: Independent School Business Operations for my job.
Where is your favourite place on Vancouver Island?
Parksville because I love sitting on the long beach and walking around the little community park.
What are you most looking forward to about your role as CFO here?
It’s an excellent organization, it has a solid foundation in all areas and just being able to build on that reputation. We’re going to make sure that we have the ability to sustain that academic excellence that we have and that we have the financial resources and facilities to be able to ensure that for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of alumni, SMUS is still the SMUS they knew, that it will still be here and it will still have the same high academic standards.