Maceachen named Chief Administrative Officer
Leanne Maceachen officially became Victoria County CAO at the March 5 Council meeting. True, Maceachen has been doing the work of a CAO since July 2017 when her predecessor Sandy Hudson announced his retirement. That didn’t make it any less exceptional to
Fifty-nine people from across the country applied to be the next CAO of Victoria County. You don’t have to meet the other 58 to know Leanne Maceachen is the right person for the job.
The County hired Maceachen in 2014 as Director of Finance, equipped with 18 years’ experience as a financial analyst-turned-senior manager with Grant Thornton in Antigonish and Alberta. While working with Grant Thornton, she taught management accounting and financial accounting part-time at her alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University.
As an undergraduate at St. FX, Maceachen started out studying science, but switched to business in her second year.
“I really enjoyed dealing with numbers. I think I've always been a ‘numbers person’. I like seeing that they tell a story.”
Maceachen’s response to the unavoidable question - “What advice can you offer young women entering careers in finance?” – offers a glimpse into her leadership style.
“Knowing when to ask for
help is important. When you don't do that, you're not helping anyone else to progress along the way. When you decide to do everything yourself, you’re not giving other people the opportunity to help and to gain experience. Ask for help so that you can learn things and do it right the first time, but also get a good team together and have others be involved in the journey.”
As CAO, Maceachen quarterbacks for two good teams - she is the sole employee of Council, while overseeing the County’s 43 administrative staff.
“You have to find a way to make both sets of people happy. You want to do what Council asks, but you also must do it in a way that keeps your staff motivated. You also have to know how things have happened in the past, how they should be working, and then direct Council. At times, you need to challenge Council on why it is they want things a certain way. You’re accountable in both directions. It’s like being in the middle of a teeter totter.”
Maceachen has stepped into the role with a strong sense of what Victoria County excels at, and where there are opportunities for development. She envisions the County as a four-season tourist destination that will generate full-time jobs. Not an easy vision to realize. It won’t all happen at once, but in her mind, it is doable.
“I think we have to have a willingness on the part of residents to see the benefits of four seasons and the prosperity that could be here. Then it becomes a destination for others.”
“If we happen to have restaurants that are open, then maybe we’ll get more doctors that want to come here because there's a place to go to eat. And then other young families will move here because there are doctors in town. There are lots of different spinoffs.”
“We have a large geographic area, let's get some businesses working here.”
Maceachen also sees opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with other municipalities. She was part of the award-winning team who found a way for nine municipalities to share an accounting system that allows authorized users to access the system from anywhere with an Internet connection. She is already in touch with the new CAO of Inverness County Keith Macdonald to explore ways to share services.
“I think there’s lot of change happening and we have to realize that change isn't a bad thing. I think that that will be the attitude with the new CAO of Inverness County. And that's the attitude here.”
The first visible change under Maceachen’s leadership is the addition of an independent citizen representative to the Audit Committee. Not all municipal councillors are strong on finances and auditing, nor are they expected to be. Maceachen is looking forward to having another ‘numbers person’ around the table.
Leanne Maceachen (pictured above) was named Victoria County's new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) on March 5, having served as the Interim CAO since July 2017. Photo by Andrew Brooks / The Victoria Standard.