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Valley First Credit Union has a new president

Talk about promoting from within.

Simon Mills is the new president of Penticton-based Valley First Credit Union, which has 13 branches in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

Mills joined Valley First in 2019 as director of commercial banking and for the past few months was acting president before he took over the position permanently.

He replaces Paulo Araujo, who's had his own promotion-from-within journey with 18 years at Valley First, five of them as president and now a leap to become vice-president of operations and advisory experience at Valley First's parent company -- First West Credit Union.

As president, Mills will lead the Valley First personal, business and commercial banking teams.

</who>Simon Mills, left, is the new president of Penticton-based Valley First Credit Union, taking over from Paul Araujo, right, who has become vice-president of operations at parent company First West Credit Union.

"Simon's a relationship builder and finds satisfaction and purpose in setting people up for success," said First West chief member officer Susan Ewanick.

"Whether it's finances or being a leader in the workplace or being a parent and partner, he's tuned in to the best interests of others."

Before joining Valley First, Mills spent 16 years in business and commercial banking, business development and building strategic relationships in Canada and the United Kingdom.

He's billed as a business and community leader with expertise in portfolio management, risk management and structured working capital solutions -- all attributes that will help him support and grow Valley First's teams.

"It's an absolute privilege to have the opportunity of leading an organization that's instinctively community-minded," said Mills.

"The support that Valley First provided for its employees and communities impacted by the fire is a good reminder of just how important Valley First and cooperative financial institutions are to our province and country, especially in times of crisis."

Mills will also continue to provide leadership for Valley First's signature cause -- Feed the Valley, which raises funds, food and awareness for food banks in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

Valley First started in 1947 as Penticton & District Credit Union and through mergers and expansion grew into Valley First, still headquartered in Penticton, but with 13 branches -- five in Kelowna, two in Penticton and one each in Kamloops, Keremeos, Oliver, Princeton, Armstrong and Vernon.

Valley First is part of First West, which has four credit union brands -- Valley First, Envision, Island Savings and Enderby & District.

Combined, First West has 45 branches across BC and is the third biggest credit union in the province, behind only Vancity and Coast Capital.

First West has 250,000 members and $14 billion in assets under management.

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