A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Garrett. Garrett Jones is the Regional Manager for Business Banking at Valley First Credit Union. When he’s not integrating sustainable practices into the financial sector, you’ll find Garrett playing guitar for his new baby girl.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m fortunate enough to work for Valley First Credit Union, a division of First West Credit Union. The great thing about working for a financial cooperative is how invested we get in the community. The ties and relationships we’ve built with Accelerate Okanagan and other local associations are very indicative of the organization’s interests. We look for opportunities to invest in and support the communities that we serve.
What do you do there?
I’m the Regional Manager for Business Banking and my team is spread across the Okanagan valley. The last year and a half have been a unique opportunity to work with our members and small- to medium-sized enterprises. It’s been inspiring to see the resilience within these businesses—and the shifts they make as they adapt to current circumstances. Being able to lend support where I can as an advisor has been an insightful and very interesting part of my job.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Be flexible, be adaptable and be stubborn. The financial sector is not immune to disruption so it’s vital to have those traits. The amount of change we’ve seen, whether it’s the digitalization of finance or integration of sustainability and ESG, permeates throughout the financial industry. You need to be able to see what those disruptors are and visualize the future from that perspective.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
When the Kelowna Innovation Centre was coming together in 2018, Valley First and First West Credit Union really wanted to get in on the ground floor. There is a huge opportunity for a local credit union to integrate with the local tech community and help up-and-comers go from startup entrepreneurs to enterprise owners. Being present in the building has helped us peek inside the ecosystem and all the great things happening around the tech community. Over the last few years, the number of amazing individuals I’ve been able to meet has been incredible.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
A huge passion for me is environmental and social sustainability. Now, more than ever, we’re seeing collision points happening between the tech, sustainability and finance sectors. And that is what really gets me excited—seeing these major issues being addressed and solved through technology and innovative ideas.
Is there something you’d like to see more of in the community?
I want to see more opportunities like the Climate Hackathon, which I was happy to participate in. Whether you’re in tech, finance or government, we need to come together and collaborate on solving these societal issues so that we can better serve our communities. Valley First is committed to being a part of that and we’re starting to see more hubs becoming incubators for tackling big problems and that’s what I love. We need to work together if we’re going to solve these issues.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
One of my performance leaders told me that business is easy, people are complex. That is something that has stayed with me as I lead a team of diverse individuals that are geographically spread out. We have a common goal but also a lot of ideas and perspectives. Trying to cultivate an atmosphere that fosters and encourages individuals to have different perspectives and come to the table with them is something I always work towards.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I see a huge opportunity within the financial sector to provide a more balanced approach to the integration of sustainable financial products. The financial sector as a whole in Canada needs to be more purposeful when working with startups looking for loans or mortgages that have fantastic ideas addressing climate change. If I can be a part of helping the business think differently in deploying capital, understanding the social and environmental impacts of every dollar we deploy, it would mean a lot to me.
Whether you’re in tech, finance or government, we need to come together and collaborate on solving these societal issues so that we can better serve our communities