Graduating from high school, Brian Kinahan (BMgt '79), president and CEO of 1st Choice Savings, planned on a year of work and play before settling down to attend university. Due to an unfortunate work accident, Kinahan's year of adventure quickly lost its appeal.
"I found myself sitting around, not able to do a lot. Worker's compensation offered to pay for me to go to university. All my friends were going to the University of Lethbridge so I thought I might as well too," remembers Kinahan. "I don't think I took it very seriously; I was too interested in having a good time and had no focus. It took two years to realize that this wasn't leading me anywhere, so at the end of 1975 I took some time off."
Kinahan spent the next year and a half working odd jobs, including driving truck, working at a feedlot, a car rental agency and a home renovation centre.
"At the end of the year and a half, I travelled for two months. When I was in Europe, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to get an education. I did not want to work at lower paying jobs that I knew would not provide for the things I wanted in life, so I returned to the U of L in the fall of 1977," recalls Kinahan.
"I realized that if I wanted to succeed it was up to me, no one else was going to do it for me. I started searching out my professors, picking their brains and building relationships with them. One of my professors, Stash Sikora, gave me insight into things I could possibly do and directions I could take with my degree. Another professor, Roger Rickwood really helped me buckle down and think about things. He helped me work on my reasoning and cognitive thinking. I finished my last few years with a much better GPA simply because I took an interest in my education," says Kinahan.
"At the University I gained the ability to think through problems and come up with solutions, to expand my mind and think beyond more than just one focus. I was well prepared for the work world when I graduated."
Kinahan graduated with a bachelor's degree in management arts in 1979 and began working for the Bank of Montreal (BMO). For the next eight years, he and his family moved throughout central Alberta before coming back to Lethbridge where he and his wife decided to raise their four children.
Facing another transfer, Kinahan left BMO in 1989 and accepted a job as the manager of lending for St. Patrick's Credit Union. In 2001, St. Patrick's merged with another credit union to become 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union and Kinahan became vice-president credit and risk management. He was promoted to president and CEO in 2009. Kinahan has played an integral part in the growth of the credit union, which now boasts a balance sheet in excess of $400 million.
While helping to build a successful financial institution is something he is very proud of, he is also grateful for the opportunities he has had to serve in the community.
"I was very involved in the LA Swim Club and the Lethbridge Cosmos Soccer Club when my children were young. Through the credit union, I also spent several years working with Habitat for Humanity, which later led to my involvement with the Social Housing in Action Committee in Lethbridge," says Kinahan. "It was very rewarding to see people get their own housing. I view my current position as probably the last position I will have before I retire. My goal is to continue building on the success of 1st Choice Savings, guiding it to be a viable and important part of the financial world that focuses on being a community-minded institution that cares about individuals."
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• He married his wife Linda in 2006.
• A Member of the Knights of Columbus since 1982, Kinahan is also the current director of People of Praise Live in Society.
• From 2002 to 2005, he was Chair of the affordable housing subcommittee of the Lethbridge Social Housing in Action Committee.
• From 1995 to 1998 he was chairman of the Alberta Credit Union Lenders Association and was instrumental in the implementation of the computerized loan origination system for Alberta credit unions.