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Avril Henry, Procurement Specialist, Purchasing Card Administrator, Calgary Catholic School District, Alberta Canada

Featured Member for February 2020

Avril Henry started working for Calgary Catholic School District in 1994, when a smaller school district was amalgamated into the large urban school jurisdiction boundaries by the provincial government. Initially, she was assigned to a buyer position with Purchasing Services and was involved in the original implementation of a Purchasing Card program with the district in 1997. During the next few years, Avril held the position of a senior high school business manager, accounting services; first at a small high school and then at a mid-sized high school. In 2005, Avril returned to the Purchasing department as a buyer/procurement specialist which included the role of the district’s Purchasing Card administrator. The skills and knowledge gained through her financial experience have been important assets in her role as P-Card administrator. In 2009, Avril was involved in the district’s review of the P-Card program. This review resulted in implementation of updated guidelines for card eligibility, credit limits and expansion of usage through the change from a traditional Purchasing Card to a One Card program. These changes resulted in growth in the program that doubled the district’s annual spend. In 2012, Avril was involved in implementation of a cardless/Ghost Card program to address the need for an innovative payment method for school administrative support staff. The cardless program resulted in another significant increase in annual spend. In 2017, Avril was involved in the project that moved the district’s One Card program to an online system for paperless account reconciliation and approval. During 2020, the district will be undertaking another in-depth review of their One Card program and Avril is looking forward to the challenge of implementing the potential changes this review will bring to the program and her role as P-Card administrator.

What are you passionate about with your job?

The ability to provide high-level support to cardholders on a daily basis. Having worked in a school environment provides me with an empathic insight into the challenges that school-based staff are faced with on a daily basis. I am passionate about providing the support, help and answers that cardholders need in a timely manner while still balancing the need to maintain procedural and professional requirements with understanding and compassion.

What are you most proud of about your job?

The implementation of the online system was a project that required a very detailed and systematic approach. I am proud that my analytical skills and strengths made this project a successful implementation and that I am able to use my problem-solving abilities on a daily basis to address cardholder and account issues, as well as the occasional software/end-user problems that arise with any technology solution.

Avril's current challenge:

Due to the current economic pressures and reduced financial resources, senior administration sometimes focuses on program enhancements that have easily quantifiable and measurable results. Therefore, it is becoming a challenge in public sector organizations to quantify and defend the “value-added” portion of the support services we provide to our internal customers.

Avril currently holds her CPCP designation. What value have you achieved from the CPCP?

I have found that the work to prepare for the CPCP examination reinforced what I have learned over the years. It has broadened my knowledge base of best practices, innovative methods of program implementation, training methods and audit requirements. The designation provides a method to recognize this increase in knowledge and experience, especially working in an environment that places value on employees participating in lifelong learning.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I love to travel and would like to do more of that in the future. My son and daughter have always been a significant priority in my life, and it is a pleasure to watch them move into the “adulting” stage of their lives. While I will always be “Mummy,” it is a joy to also become their adult friend and confidante.

Fun fact: 

When I was much younger, one of my first careers was as a “driver examiner.” I conducted driving tests for new drivers, including automobiles, school buses, and even “big rigs.”

If you could visit anywhere in the world you've never been, where would you go and why?

I would love to visit Thailand and Vietnam. The beauty of the countries, the people, the culture, as well as so many different smells, tastes and visual wonders is something to behold.

Program details: 

Card products: One Card
Total number of accounts ~1,000
Annual spend ~ $13M CDN
Annual transactions ~ 50,000

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