2023 BCEL Conference – Leadership in a Distributed Workplace

Leadership in a Distributed Workplace - Panel

Panel Discussion

This panel session will discuss how current and future leaders can cultivate a positive and fulfilling workplace culture. In an ever-evolving world, leaders need key skills to keep their teams connected, engaged and agile – all while striving towards a clearly defined purpose. Sandra McDowell (CEO, eLeadership Academy), Sheh Shojaee (Director of Strategic HR, CPHR BC & Yukon), and Rebecca Walker (VP of HR, First West Credit Union) will share their experiences, knowledge, and learnings as leaders in the credit union system, covering topics such as: remote work, how to advocate for your career, individual competencies needed to grow, and sustaining engagement during change.


Sheh Shojaee – Independent HR, DEIB, & Business Consultant

Recognized as a Woman of Distinction by HRD Canada in 2023, Sheh Shojaee is CPHR and SHRM-SCP certified and is an Independent HR, DEIB & Business Consultant. Previously, she was CPHR BC & Yukon’s Director of Strategic HR & Operations, where she led operations and HR for the Association, as well as Post Secondary Accreditation functions, DEI research, and facilitated the Association’s advocacy work.

At the heart of Sheh’s HR philosophy is fostering a culture of optimism and resilience while managing organizational challenges and market shifts. Sheh is an advocate for normalizing equality and inclusivity, destigmatizing mental health and her passion is helping emerging leaders thrive.

She is a passionate and avid volunteer in her community: a member of Immigrant Employment Council-BC’s Advisory Group, Co-Chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Scale-up Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises, on One Girl Can’s Governance, HR, Legal & Risk Committee and she serves on MPA Society’s Board of Directors.

Sandra McDowell – CEO and Founder – eLeadership Academy

She has spent more than 20 years in executive roles within the credit union system, including as Head of People & Culture, COO, and Acting CEO and knows what it takes to guide an organization that’s anchored in cooperative principles, community, and purpose. Early in her career, she received a Canadian national young leader award and World Council WYCUP young leader award.

Sandra is a Certified Executive Coach with a Master’s degree in Leadership, and she holds an ICF PCC designation along with a Certificate in Neuroleadership. In 2012, she began teaching what she had learned through her education and experience—that program would later evolve into the internationally recognized eLeadership Academy. Today, her mission is to help the worldwide credit union system build a leadership force for good.

Sandra is faculty for two universities, and the author of Your Mother Was Right: 15 Unexpected Lessons About Leadership and the Brain.

Rebecca Walker – VP, HR Services, First West Credit Union

Rebecca leads First West Credit Union’s Talent Attraction, Employee Health & Safety, HR Business Partner, and Employee & Labour Relations departments. She is focused on advancing
First West’s People Services priorities by creating a  collaborative, dynamic environment and by building strong relationships across the entire organization. Rebecca is passionate about developing others and mentors students and HR professionals both within First West and her community. 

Rebecca’s career in Human Resources spans almost 30 years with tenured experience in both unionized and non-unionized environments. Rebecca first joined First West in 2012 as a Senior HR Business Partner and has successfully fulfilled several roles within People Services since then; most recently as VP, HR Services & Labour Relations.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of the Fraser Valley, a certificate in Labour Relations from Queens IRC and is certified in Strategic Workforce
Planning. She is a member with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources for BC & Yukon. 

Rebecca resides in Maple Ridge, BC with her two children.