Author: By Helen Corbett
Spend an hour with Vicki Herd and you will hear two words over and over again – change and curiosity.
Those are the two touchstones in the career and life of this lively Australian, the new Senior Director of Finance and Operations at CMC Research Institutes.
“I like change,” she says. “I thrive on change.”
Herd describes her job at CMC as “exactly perfect” – one where she can engage her analytical side in providing financial diligence to the multi-million dollar research institute, while flexing her creative side, assisting in HR and marketing.
Exchange experience brings Herd to North America
She did the classic Australian ‘big journey’ in her 20s, visiting 32 countries in eight months – including Afghanistan just before its borders closed. Later, she returned to North America as an exchange student to Oregon, buying a VW bus and driving 22,000 miles around the US and Canada.
She studied engineering briefly, before becoming an accountant – “a friendly accountant,” she quips.
“I kind of like people,” she says. “I’ve found I connect to a lot of people just by being friendly.”
Earning a CPA in Australia, a CMA in Canada and an MBA online, she has held senior financial positions at the Calgary Board of Education, ENMAX and Direct Energy. She’s worked contracts as a controller for a Crowsnest Pass coal mine, and more recently, as a commercial manager for the construction of the Calgary West LRT.
Through it all, she’s been a single mom raising her now 25-year-old son, who recently graduated from university.
An active volunteer and Mensa president
Between the demands of motherhood and career, Herd has managed to squeeze in a lot of volunteer work. She was treasurer for the Alexandra Community Health Centre for nine years. She volunteers with the Downunder Social Club for expat Aussies.
And if you’re looking for the smartest people in Calgary, look no further than Herd’s kitchen, the informal gathering place for the Calgary branch of Mensa Canada. In fact, Herd becomes the new president of Mensa Canada this March.
Herd’s organizing efforts for Mensa Canada’s annual gathering in 2011, helped the non-profit capture two Alberta Tourism awards. That in turn led Alberta Tourism to sponsor a Mensa flash mob in Lake Louise, the following year.
Herd’s curiosity about highly-intelligent people and their often-mediocre performance in teams led her to write a paper, “Survivor Lessons for Mensans” that she has delivered at several international conferences.
“It’s worked out well for me,” Herd says of her career. “It just proves you can do anything in life.”
Helen Corbett writes about environmental issues and is executive director of All One Sky Foundation.