Sheri Hamilton and Miranda Birkbeck Win Awards; CPHR BC & Yukon Recognizes Three Members With FCPHR Title


With a large faction of the HR community gathered in Vancouver last week, CPHR BC & Yukon handed out two professional awards and three Fellow CPHR titles last week at their 57th annual HR Conference + Tradeshow. 

The big winners were Miranda Birkbeck, First West Credit Union, who took home the Rising Star Award and Sheri Hamilton, SASCU, who won the Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year. Also recognized as new Fellow CPHRs at the event were David Berrington, CONTACT HR Consulting Inc., Greg Conner, BC Transit and independent management consultant, Alice Downing

Also receiving recognition were Rising Star Award finalists, Stuart Heaven, TPD and Kristine Sultmanis, CFB Esquimalt, as well as Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year finalists, Michelle Lewis, TransLink and Deborah Maynard, Coast Mental Health.

Below is a little info on the winners and the awards.  

Miranda Birkbeck, CPHR Candidate

HR Service Centre, Advisor
First West Credit Union
Kelowna, BC

2019 Rising Star winner, Miranda Birkbeck (Centre), with CPHR BC & Yukon’s Susan Ryan, Chair (Left) and Anthony Ariganello (Right), President & CEO

A lifetime learner from an early age, Miranda Birkbeck, CPHR candidate walked into her first day on the job at First West Credit Union (First West) in Kelowna with all parties already aware of her potential.

Highly active in the HR field long before graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours, HR Management, Birkbeck had served as an HR technology intern with First West for seven months in 2016, contributing to some key projects and proving herself a quick study in the process. She had also already competed twice in the HRC West competition, completed an honours degree through a recruitment project and volunteered as a student administrator on the CPHR BC & Yukon’s Southern Interior Advisory Council.

With her passion proven and path clearly set on HR, Birkbeck has proven an invaluable asset to First West since officially joining later that year. Long before being promoted to the role of HR advisor in late 2018, Birkbeck had grown that investment of trust considerably and shown considerable ROI in the process.

For the first few months, Birkbeck went to work learning the business from the ground up, researching best practices, leading subject matter expert interviews and comparing participation rates. What emerged was a proposal submitted directly to First West’s chief people and culture officer to create the first harmonized employee referral program.

In a similar case, she played a fundamental role in the implementation of First West’s new application tracking system, Taleo, learning to configure the system with little input to automate external offer letters and parts of the pre-boarding process.

With approximately 1,750 employees in more than 90 locations across B.C., First West’s HR service centre is a very busy and highly effective virtual team—with Birkbeck to thank for myriad technical touches ranging from the amalgamation of eight-plus regional email inboxes, the implementation of new technology to launch a group phone line to the service centre, full migration and optimization of both the benefits, and learning and development administration, as well as the implementation of a case management system.

Most recently, she has been leading the development of a new employee value proposition by applying her own values of research and collaboration: creating a work plan, organizing project resources, gathering internal data and analysis and collaborating with the First West leadership team to ensure strategic alignment.

While much of the above is highly-technical, Birkbeck is credited with a passion for the minute details and big picture alike, sourcing technology solutions which work for the wider team. As such, she has not only earned the respect of her HR peers, but is credited with elevating the HR delivery model to employees. Integral to implementing self-service within the organization, Birkbeck is always looking for innovate solutions to improve employee experience, while constantly pushing beyond her own comfort zone, as she did in creating the metrics dashboard for First West’s HR service centre, which now provides a steady stream of operation metrics to better serve employees.

Her efforts have shown exponential return, including a time savings of 618 hours annually in HR administration.

A champion in her own right, Birkbeck is keen to champion the success of others, and has been working to enhance First West’s awards and scholarship programs, . developing systematic approaches to maximally recognize the organization’s top-performing employees.

An exemplar of learning and giving back, she is currently the volunteer coordinator for Elevation Outdoors, a community-supported program designed to enhance the lives of local youths facing significant socio-economic challenges. Similarly empowering is her role as a Girl Guide’s leader for the Sparks division in Kelowna where Birkbeck leads young girls aged five to six on the journey of self-leadership.


The Rising Star Award, sponsored by LoganHR, recognizes the HR leaders of tomorrow. These up-and-comers, within the first five years of their human resources career, are considered to be lighting the HR community on fire and hold the future of the profession in their hands. Each of the nominees has made significant contributions to their past and present workplaces at a very early stage in their career.


Sheri Hamilton, CPHR

Associate Vice President, Human Resources
Salmon Arm, BC

2019 Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year, Sheri Hamilton (Centre), with CPHR BC & Yukon’s Susan Ryan, Chair (Left) and Anthony Ariganello (Right), President & CEO

For over 20 years, Sheri Hamilton has been growing the net worth of HR as a passionate proponent of people practices and as a key business driver at the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) since 1998.

Grounded in community, SASCU was formed in 1946 by a group of orchard farmers who were unable to secure traditional bank financing, and has been a core financial fixture in the Shuswap region since—now with five established branches and 150 employees.

A strong community supporter herself, Hamilton first joined SASCU as a junior manager and progressed to where she has been a key member of the executive management team for the past seven years. Reporting directly to the CEO as associate vice-president of HR, her contributions to the businesses’ growth over the past three years have been substantial.

Serving as project manager on a critical initiative, Hamilton rose to the challenge of leading the transition of SASCU’s member-facing sales staff from specialists to generalists to provide better member service and improve efficiencies. She led the project team in delivering a full-suite training program, including exam prep and new accreditation, all over period of 11 months. Not only was this five months ahead of schedule, but Hamilton’s change and project management expertise showed immediate results: minimal turnover, high engagement scores, and, most importantly, employee confidence in their new roles and skills, along with improved business performance.

Hamilton led the HR stream of a similarly organization-wide project by transforming the traditional switchboard roles into contact centre agents able to handle a wider variety of calls. Upskilling from within while improving service to SASCU’s members, her project management, communication and change management skills have improved the experience for internal and external clients alike. With calls centralized from two branches and extended contact centre hours, the positive impact continues in terms of service, opportunities and growth.

A committed lifelong learner and ardent proponent and mentor of HR, it is interesting to note just how far outside the HR circle Hamilton’s expertise and aptitude extends.

Case in point, Hamilton is currently co-leading a project to update the member experience by digitizing the credit union’s processes and, most notably, adding electronic signatures to boost both the efficiency and experience. Highly effective, this project’s goal is to cut process time significantly, and marked both Hamilton and SASCU alike as innovators—with only a few credit unions in B.C. digitizing processes and including the e-signature component.

Even more historically, in July 2018, when SASCU acquired a new business—a first for the credit union—Hamilton led the people side of the transition: determining risk and mitigation strategies, identifying HR and benefit issues and standing by a very people-centric approach to onboarding. Making a strong case for keeping people first in mind, she gained acceptance from the executive team to conduct a cultural assessment prior to the closing date of the acquisition. As a result of the findings, SASCU went on to successfully transition and onboard employees from the acquisition—doubling the staff and revenues of their Insurance division.

And while 2018 might have been a hallmark year, Hamilton has long been regarded for her versatility, capability and dedication to the HR profession, both within SASCU and with the broader community. Actively developing and mentoring her own team, she also supports emerging HR professionals, whether that be by providing job shadowing for several UBC Okanagan HR students or taking on BCIT student teams working on their final term industry HR consulting projects.

Hamilton has also chaired the Okanagan College Regional Advisory Committee for the past six years and most recently joined the board of the Okanagan College Foundation—all in the name of growing and showing support for future talent.


The Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year, sponsored by ADP Canada, recognizes the HR leaders of today. This award is CPHR BC & Yukon’s highest honour for established HR practitioners, exemplary individuals who have made a contribution to human resources by improving organizational performance, achieving business results, demonstrating excellence in leadership or developing innovative programs.

For more information about the award recipients, award finalists or the Professional Awards, please visit


Fellow CPHR Title

The Fellow CPHR Award is a prestigious award that recognizes Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) who have made exemplary contributions to the HR profession. Recipients of the award are granted recognition as a Fellow of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (FCPHR).

David Berrington

Principal, CONTACT HR Consulting Inc.

David Berrington (Right) stands with Anthony Ariganello (Left), CPHR BC & Yukon President & CEO upon receiving the title of Fellow CPHR.

For over 20 years, David Berrington, FCPHR has been a driving force for HR in British Columbia as a professor, principal of CONTACT HR Consulting BC Inc. and as a passionate proponent of the profession.

As past-chair of CPHR BC & Yukon from 2004-2006, Berrington’s involvement with the association goes back two decades to when he joined the Strategic Planning Task Force during a period of critical decision-making. That same acumen also served Berrington and the profession on the national front through his Board of Directors involvement with CPHR Canada.

Through CONTACT HR, Berrington provides strategic and operational human resources consulting and recruitment services to growing companies across B.C. Berrington’s most recent focus has been helping to advance the burgeoning liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector to develop energy projects in the Province. Berrington continues to thrive in diverse settings, with client sectors that include construction, non-profits, technology, management consulting, education and engineering.

A lifelong learner, Berrington’s impact on the evolution of HR education has been similarly extensive: ranging from his inaugural role with HR Development Canada as manager of the HR Centre for Students in Kamloops to his lengthy tenure on the Advisory Committee for the BCIT HR Management Program to his first far more front and centre professorial roles.

Currently an instructor with Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Continuing Studies, Management and Professional programs, Berrington sets the pace and keeps the pulse of emerging HR talent through a variety of strategic planning and performance management courses.

Holding both his CPHR designation and Bachelor of Arts Degree from SFU, David has also maintained the highest standards of his own education with a steady stream of professional development ranging from project management boot camps to train-the trainer programs.

Moreover, while Berrington exemplifies HR excellence at work and in the classroom, he has helped many others step up to the plate beyond both of those environments as the recent president of the Dunbar Baseball Association.

Greg Conner

Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Secretary, BC Transit

As a business leader who has excelled in the HR profession for over 30 years, Greg Conner has helped share better futures for individuals and organizations alike.

Greg Conner (Right) stands with Anthony Ariganello (Left), CPHR BC & Yukon President & CEO upon receiving the title of Fellow CPHR.

Currently vice president of human resources and corporate secretary at BC Transit, Conner has long been regarded for his approachability as much as his demonstrated expertise. As a results-based communicator and motivator, his overarching and passionate service ethic consistently guided and fuelled much of his career.

From his earliest days as a training and development manager for the Province of B.C., strategic positioning of the HR profession with a priority on people development has been a focus for Conner. Driven by this philosophy, he became director of the Ministry of Human Resources’ employee services division before moving on to director of HR for Camosun College. Years later, at the heart of technology as vice president of HR and communications with HP Advanced solutions, Conner’s reputation for excellence had become well known.

He was recognized by the Vancouver Island Technology Council (VIATeC) as Executive of the Year (2009) and a year later, by CPHR BC & Yukon as a finalist for HR Professional of the Year. A natural communicator previously published in PeopleTalk, Conner has become a well-regarded and regular contributor to the Globe and Mail’s national column, “Nine to Five.”

Conner holds a Master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He has returned that learning in kind as a sessional instructor at the University of Victoria. He has also been a certified emotional intelligence assessor since 2002.

Conner volunteers with numerous community bodies including the United Way of Greater Victoria, Our Place Society, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Cittaslow Cowichan. He also serves as chief mentor for FreshWorks Studio (AirSenze Solutions Inc.), an award-winning Vancouver Island-based application development studio that specializes in designing user experiences.

A thriving member of CPHR BC & Yukon who has served on both the Board of Directors and as a mentor in the Professional Mentorship Program, Conner continues to define the “people-first” potential of the HR profession.”

Alice Downing

Alice Downing (Right) stands with Anthony Ariganello (Left), CPHR BC & Yukon President & CEO upon receiving the title of Fellow CPHR.

Independent Management Consultant

Distinguished across decades for her business savvy and HR leadership, curiosity and compassion have served Alice Downing well.

Self-employed since 2003 as an independent management consultant in the areas of HR, community relations, governance and trusteeship, Downing was brought on to support Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd. in their “Whole of Community” approach following the tragic Lakeland Sawmill fire.

Through Downing’s efforts — from supporting Lakeland employees and their families, to recruiting an HR director and helping build fresh foundations and HR strategy, her approach has helped heal and make whole both the HR department and strategy, as well as the organization and community of which it is a part.

Downing’s acumen and experience has similarly served a wide range of organizations in industries such as, natural resources, manufacturing, insurance, and service industries, as well as in the public sector, health, education and not-for-profit organizations, including the University of Northern British Columbia, College of New Caledonia, Canadian Healthcare Association, Canadian Blood Services Insurance Inc., Health Employers Association of BC, Northern Health, and Fraser Basin Council.

In a career seeded within the forest industry, Downing’s HR career took root in 1980 when she joined Northwood Pulp and Timber, and later Canfor, where she eventually became HR manager of their pulp and paper operations.

As a seasoned HR professional who has won the esteem of many, Downing’s accolades include the Canfor President’s Award of Excellence, Award of Merit from the Northern Chapter of CPHR BC & Yukon, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and, most recently a citation from the American Hospital Association Board in recognition of outstanding leadership, commitment and high standards of performance.

That esteem extends into the broader community as well via Downing’s extensive history of volunteering — be that chairing conferences, community service or sitting on a range of Governance Boards, another area in which her expertise is widely recognized on local, provincial and national levels. Widely published and much sought after, Downing’s unflagging service undeniably serves the whole of many communities.

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