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."
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."