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Department Profile: Meet the Finance Department

By Angela McInnes, BA'15

Rosemary Hicks’ office is warm and inviting—not exactly what you may expect from someone working with figures and making tough decisions all day long.

As the Director of Finance at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Hicks contradicts the stereotype of the unfriendly accountant. Instead, she focuses her energies on cultivating a supportive relationship with the many departments of the School that she and her team work with on a daily basis.

“I really see our department as a support unit,” said Hicks. “We’re like the IT helpdesk without having the helpdesk. People think of accounting as not being that way, but I’ve also been told I’m not a normal accountant.”

Akin to Human Resources, the Financial Department interacts with every part of the School. From travel claims to budgeting, organizing each detailed facet of the institution’s finances makes every day fast-paced and challenging.

According to Hicks, there is no such thing as a “typical” day in the department. The team oversees budgets for the staff and faculty of Robarts, the School, all clinical and basic science departments, dean’s departments and dentistry; they also monitor billing, travel claims and deposits, along with solving whatever unanticipated problems may arise along the way.

While their reach across the School is large, the department itself is small, with each member playing an integral role in its success. Working with Hicks is Barb Sandford, serving as Financial Analyst and Practice Plan Coordinator; Ronnine

Elston is the Administrative Assistant, and Katey Senese and Vicki Douvalis are Financial Officers.

Although the member’s roles are generally performed independently, a recent visit to a local escape room revealed how effectively they can collaborate when tasked with a common goal.

“I was amazed at how everyone’s mind worked differently at different puzzles and how some people were drawn to different ones,” Hicks explained. “We had to work individually and bring everything together. It was a great experience.”

The staff has been together only since May of 2015, yet Hicks is excited to put her team’s talents toward accomplishing future initiatives such as improving inter-department communication and holding education sessions, which are much needed in light of rapidly changing technologies.

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Financial Department dispels every myth of the cold and uncaring accountant, and is rather invigorated with a strong awareness that attached to the fiscal responsibility of the School’s budget there is an initiative to improve education, research, the community’s health and create a better workplace.

“Every day I like coming to work. I do feel our team is here to support people,” said Hicks, “Work is about the people you work with. I think we have a great management team.”

The final message Hicks would like to send to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?

Simple. “We’re here to help.”