WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6964 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2022-11-21 13:49:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-11-21 19:49:42 [post_content] =>

Justin Fernandez (Cert.) Inclusive Post-Secondary Education'21 immigrated with his family from the Philippines to Canada in 2010. Despite the bullying he was the target of in high school, Fernandez focused on his studies and his goal of becoming a contributing member of the community.

In June 2021, after four years of study, Fernandez earned a Certificate in Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. The certificate is part of the U of R's Campus for All program.

Fernandez was hired by the University's Financial Services as an administrative assistant. His duties include sorting mail, scanning documents for online filing, and other administrative tasks.

He says that earning money will enable him to help his parents make ends meet and allows him to send money to family members back in the Philippines.

According to his parents, they have seen Fernandez' confidence grow since he began his job and that it has brought meaning to his life and allowed him to build new skills and relationships.

Click Here for Justin Fernandez's Q&As [post_title] => Spot Light on Justin Fernandez [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spot-light-on-justin-fernandez-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-12-02 16:01:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-12-02 22:01:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.degreesmagazine.ca/?p=6964 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7034 [post_author] => 20 [post_date] => 2023-02-14 08:39:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-02-14 14:39:43 [post_content] =>

Access Communications' new CEO comes to the role following a 20-year history with the not-for-profit, community-owned co-operative. Before taking the wheel last November, Carmela Haines BAdmin'92 had been involved in just about every aspect of the organization, assuming a wide swath of executive responsibilities, as well as everything from purchasing to fleet management. She talks to Degrees about the importance of continuous learning, what makes her organization unique, and why the future of cooperatives looks very bright.

What drew you to Access Communications, and what has kept you there?
I love the industry that we're in. If there's anything that's a constant in this industry, it's change. And we've undergone transformational change over the past 20 years; the switch from analogue TV to digital TV, from dial-up internet to providing gigabit internet - just how the technology itself has evolved. We've introduced new products and services as part of our growth strategy. When I first started with Access, we were in 35 communities. Now we're in 230 communities in Saskatchewan, and we serve 200,000 km of rural wireless within this province. So, to me it's just an exciting industry.

One of the things that attracted me here was that I was at the executive table right from day one - I liked being part of that decision making. And we were ahead of the times; as an executive at Access starting 20 years ago, I had three young children under the age of eight, and I was able to have a flex work arrangement and work-life balance.

I also love the great people that work here at Access. They genuinely care, and provide exceptional customer service. Which is another reason I wanted to be in the role of CEO - because of the team here.

Saskatchewan has a long and proud history of cooperative organizations. How do you see the cooperative movement changing, and where does it go from here?
I believe the co-op model is here to stay. The pandemic has changed the way that people think. We've seen more community participation, more involvement, and more understanding of the importance of community. Access doesn't have shareholders in the way that the big telecom providers do. One hundred per cent of our earnings are reinvested back into the communities we serve. By improving the service offerings and giving back to the communities - that's what really distinguishes us. We also engage with our communities, and one way we do this is through our Access Now TV community channels. We have local producers and hundreds of volunteers from across the province that showcase what their community is doing and reflect the communities back to themselves. There's a sense of belonging, as well as a desire to support local. And I think we will see the co-operative movement grow because people want to be part of that. How did your studies at the U of R lead you to your current career?
The U of R has a great business program. It was a stepping stone to further my education, and contributed to my success and where I am today. The business program helped me with critical thinking and problem solving. I'm a firm believer in continuous learning, and I went on to get my CPA designation, and then later on my ICD (Institute of Corporate Directors) designation. I have three children who all went through the business program - my youngest child finishes in April. I would recommend the U of R's business program to anybody interested in obtaining a business degree. What advice would you give to those who would like to follow in your footsteps?
First, I encourage continuous learning. The environment around you continues to change and it's important to learn new skills and knowledge. Second, use your skills and knowledge and give back to the community by volunteering. You will learn from that experience, and in turn further develop your own skills. I've volunteered and was on the Foodbank board and other boards. Want to learn about board governance? Use your skills to be on a board. It teaches you about governance and you learn from other leaders. Charities and not-for-profits are looking for people to sit on their boards and to serve - it's a win-win situation. And finally, I'd encourage people to take personal risks. Opportunities may come only once in a lifetime, and often the only people who hold us back are ourselves.


*This interview has been condensed for length.

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