The concept of lifelong learning is more than just a philosophy for Ron; it’s engrained into nearly everything he does.
Born in Swift Current, Ron and his family moved to Prince Albert, and then Saskatoon, where he spent most of his younger years.
“My parents wanted to live near a university. Neither of them had gone, and they wanted us to have that chance,” he says. “Once my two sisters and I were all in elementary school, my Mom went back and got her degree in education and she recently did her masters.”
After graduating with his B.Ed and wanting to make some money over the summer before he started teaching, Ron applied for an IT job with SIGA – an opportunity that would lead him to adjust his career plans.
“A month into it, my manager asked if I would stay on as Help Desk Manager,” he says. “While I was there to gain experience in IT, what I really learned was how to manage projects. I’m a planner – I like to have Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, and to write and communicating those plans, so project management was a good fit for me.”
Ron was soon promoted to HR Manager of Information Systems and then Director of HR & Business Planning, where he focused on compliance, learning all aspects of SIGA’s business, including marketing, human resources, IT, finance, payroll, and operations. He quickly discovered that he enjoyed the work involved with business planning and designing and implementing effective policies and systems that promoted positive organizational change.
“I was process driven, you know, ‘walk me through how you do this,’ and then I’d map and systemize the processes, train staff on the systems, and deploy,” he says. “I liked the problem solving, and I got to do things at my pace, which is always fast.”
Ron earned his project management designation and moved on to a position with Deloitte, where he worked on global systems
implementation for many different businesses. From there, he took a job as VP of Business Development with Athabasca Basin Security (ABS) and was named its CEO a few months later. ABS took on an Alberta-based acquisition during Ron’s leadership as it expanded operations across the western Canada, growing from 26 employees to a workforce of over 300 with significant Indigenous employment numbers. In 2018, ABS made the 2018 Canada Business Growth 500 list as one of the country’s fastest growing companies.
STEPPING INTO NEW ROLES
Ron joined Kitsaki as Chief Operating Officer in June 2021. He was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer this July – a role he takes on with great pride.
“It’s a real honour to serve my community as CEO,” he says. “Having the opportunity to work with the team this past year has been extremely valuable. I see so much opportunity ahead for Kitsaki, a testament to all the hard work of Russell, the board, and our past leaders.”
Ron’s connection to Kitsaki and his community is strong – his great uncle, Chief Myles Venne, was the leader who founded Kitsaki in 1981.
“I spent most summers up in Sucker River with my kohkom and nimosom, helping them haul water, cut wood, and check nets,” he says. “We had a big crew of cousins and spent lots of time on the water, at the ball diamond, camping and walking to Wadin Bay for ice cream.”
When it comes to supporting Kitsaki and every asset under its umbrella, Ron says he sees nothing but good things for the company.
“Kitsaki will be completing a number of acquisitions this year that will diversify our portfolio even further,” he says. “We’re at the beginning of a real growth phase, and it’s really exciting tobeapartofit.