Civic Election 2018  

Mark Rivette

Mark Rivette

School District 22 Trustee candidate

My name is Mark Rivette and I am 59 years old and have been a resident of the North Okanagan for the last 2.5 years. Since the 1950s my family has lived in the back-country of the Shuswap (without water, electricity or phone services) utilizing Vernon for Laundry, Shopping and a burger at the A&W. 

I received the majority of my formal education in Alberta including a Bachelor of Science, a Medical Laboratory Technology Certificate, and a Masters Degree in Health Services Administration. 

I am currently semi-retired. My career has been dedicated to both
Public and Private Sector. 

I have extensive experience working in and for large organizations at an executive and board level specifically in Education, Health and Provincial Governments. 

My most memorable achievements were associated with negotiating and closing very large service contracts and partnership agreements with the total estimated commercial value of $750M serving over 200,000 employees in Canada.


1) Why should voters cast a ballot for you October 20?

I believe that the School District Board should be made up of a group of people with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds.

The uniqueness of my skills includes being the budget officer for a large public sector organization with over 4000 employees, an annual budget of over $200M and a variety of significant capital projects. 

In the late 80s I was a Senior Accountant responsible for introducing new programs supported by business cases. Examples include long-term care expansion, an AIDs Clinic and an In-vitro Fertilization Clinic.

My most significant contribution was providing key ideas and data sets used to create a new funding formula for the 1995 regionalization of healthcare.

In the early 2000s, I made a career move to be on the Executive Team and eventually the President of a company that provides Payroll Services to public sector organizations in Canada. 

In this capacity, I was able to gain experience in policy development as the Privacy Officer and the Corporate Development Officer.

Additionally, I have spent significant hours negotiating and closing service contracts and partnership agreements building a depth of legal contract knowledge.

As I moved into the President role my activities became focused on evolving the strategic direction of the organization through a dramatic change in the organization’s delivery model, enhancing the employee engagement to world-class standards through powerful communications and the establishment of a continuous quality improvement culture.

I was highly engaged with the executive level of key clients including the Province of British Columbia, the Vancouver Board of Education, the Calgary Board of Education, Hamilton Health Sciences, the Royal Victoria Hospital and Alberta Health Services.

I bring to this role my experiences in both the Public and Private Sector and my key abilities in communication, business analysis, policy development and contract negotiations.

I believe these abilities will add value to the Vernon School District Board for the upcoming 4 years.

2) What is the biggest issue facing the Vernon School District, and as a member of the board of education, how would you work to address this issue?

The most important issue is the implementation of the visionary work completed by the existing board with contributions from the community and key stakeholders as set out in the current strategic plan “Vision 2022”. 

The new board of October 2018 would be remiss if it did not focus on coordinating the majority of its activities to a successful implementation of that plan, scheduling expected milestones, monitoring the achievement of the plan and updating the plan as required over the board term.

As it relates to Vision 2022 this work needs to begin now.

A subset of the most important goals to me to achieve Vision 2022 include:

  • Ensuring resources are available to meet the needs of each student through strong transparent budget management, advocating for appropriate funding and contributing to any new provincial funding formula developments.
  • Engaging District employees through their own personal development plans, enhancing their skill and knowledge while working in a stable and consistent environment including a fair and equitable process in negotiating collective bargaining agreements.
  • Communicating in ways where information is effectively shared between the various stakeholder groups and individuals including parents and students.
  • Developing deeper ways to address the acceptance and respect for all students of the public education system. The public system is built around diversity not homogeneity and it is a combination of student, parent and educator responsibilities that the diversity is, not only accepted and respected, that it has a place to safely flourish.

I will be focused on the implementation of Vision 2022, its Mission, its Guiding Principles and its Goals. 

This will require significant effort and commitment well beyond the simple action of attending meetings. It will require leadership and experienced contributors to implement and manage change. 

There are many complex parts to Vision 2022 - it is a challenge of great magnitude. 

Large complex project delivery is something I am very experienced with and I am prepared to commit my time and energy to the successful achievement of the goals of Vision 2022.

3) Balancing a budget while providing quality education means sometimes making difficult decisions that affect the lives of young children. Can you provide an example of a time when you were forced to make a difficult
decision that affected the lives of many?

My example is years of experience in managing both risks and crises. In my role, since 2001, as an executive and President of a Payroll Service company, I was responsible for the delivery of accurate and timely pay for over 200,000 public sector employees in Canada. 

Any failure could potentially be catastrophic for an employee and their family impacting their ability to meet expenses such as food and utilities, their debt payments and mortgages, and negatively impacting their credit

Delivering biweekly payroll services is not for the faint of heart.

Over my tenure as an executive leader, I have had to make thousands of decisions, many in very difficult situations that could impact the outcome of a pay run. 

Payroll is one of the most complex software systems used in any organization. 

The majority of calculations are created from tax law, employment standards and the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements. These calculations are dynamic and constantly changing depending on hours worked, seniority levels, salary grids etc. 

In many cases, these changes are inputted manually and subject to human error. 

The decisions I made were to manage the error risks by investing in the development of a highly skilled, engaged, healthy, and competent payroll team. A tough and on-going balance of profit maximization to risk reduction.

In addition to constant risk management I have dealt with a number of crisis situations including major implementation delays, upgrade rollbacks, catastrophic failures of hardware and backup systems, bank failures, privacy breaches (a break- in with theft), and strike action in both our company and in our client organizations.

With an excellent team, abundant human energy, a service focus, transparency with our clients and probably a fair bit of luck our company never missed a single pay- run from hundreds of pay-runs delivered each year.

It is this experience of managing both risks and crises that has given me an appreciation for the numerous decisions, small and large, that need to be made to protect the livelihood of many.

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