Our Directors & Management

Board of Directors

Jim Dinning, Calgary, AB
Karen Radford, Calgary, AB
Robert Herdman, Calgary, AB
Scott Tannas, High River, AB
Sylvie Paquette, Quebec City, QC
Linda Fiset, Levis QC
Jean Royer, Levis, QC

 

Management Committee 

 Patrick Bieleny     

Patrick Bieleny
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Western Financial Group

 

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Financial Group, Patrick Bieleny leads the executive leadership team and serves on the various corporate boards for the company and its subsidiaries.

Bieleny has more than 20 years’ experience in senior management roles spanning a variety of industries including insurance, financial services, agri-business, food processing, oil & gas services, and advisory/private equity.

Prior to joining Western, Bieleny was Chief Executive Officer for a private equity firm in Alberta, and served on several boards – both externally and within the managed portfolio.  He was also Director and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta and its predecessor organization.

Bieleny is a chartered professional accountant and has earned the ICD.D designation through the Institute of Corporate Directors, Canada’s leading national community for directors.

      

Kenny Nicholls 
Chief Financial Officer (CFO). and Chief Risk Officer (CRO),
Western Financial Group


Kenny Nicholls is the is the Chief Financial Officer, and the Chief Risk Officer at Western Financial Group (Western).

With 20 years of experience in the financial institutions sector, Kenny spent 17 years with Desjardins, prior to joining Western in 2011. He occupied several finance, compliance, and risk management positions, as well as executive positions in asset management, pooled and mutual funds, real estate management, securities brokerage, and back office and wealth management companies.

Throughout these 20 years, Kenny has had the opportunity to build record-performing teams and to work with a wide spectrum of professionals. From this experience, he was able to develop extensive knowledge around operational processes.

Prior to joining Desjardins, Kenny spent five years as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche in Montreal specializing in financial institutions.

Kenny holds a graduate diploma in public accountancy from McGill University and a bachelor of commerce degree in accountancy from Concordia University. Along with being a member of the CPA order of the CGA, Kenny is also an associate CFA member.

 

        

Rod Cunniam
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Direct Distribution
Interim President & Chief Operating Officer (COO), Western Financial Insurance Company


Rod Cunniam is the Interim President & Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Western Financial Insurance Company where he focuses on increasing Petsecure’s market share, enhancing the customer experience of policyholders, and driving innovation.

Cunniam is a worldwide leader within the eBusiness profession. Prior to joining Western, he led major online businesses and implemented best practice solutions in both domestic and international markets. He has held national technology leadership roles with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bell Canada. 

Cunniam has a specialized combination of skills and expertise and a track record for building high-performing teams that deliver customer excellence. His eBusiness experience, customer care, and call centre knowledge, as well as his ability to build strong, co-operative teams are core to his success in generating sustained business value for Western.

 

      

Grant Ostir
President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Western Group Insurance Solutions 

 

Grant Ostir is the current President and Chief Operating Officer of Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions.

As President and COO of Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions, Ostir is responsible for providing the strategic direction of the company’s business operations.  His management focuses on the entire business but in particular sales and growth, service, finance, technology, HR, marketing, general administration, compliance and corporate relations.  In addition to these responsibilities, Ostir is the lead contact for many of the company’s association partners.

Prior to his role as President and COO, Ostir worked in many capacities at Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions.  In his most recent role, Ostir was the executive vice president of sales and service where he oversaw the sales development and marketing as related to commercial and employee benefits insurance across Canada.  Ostir has extensive insurance industry experience and has been with Western Group Insurance Solutions since 1996 after graduating from university.

Ostir graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Economics.  He currently resides in Winnipeg with his wife Devon and their three children Keaton, Hayden and Sydney.

 

 

      

James Bond, QC
Chief Legal Officer (CLO)
President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Western Life Assurance Company                                            

 

James Bond is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Western Life Assurance Company, and is responsible for its overall business development and business strategy. He is focused on growing the Company's sales channel network and building a solid customer service platform. Bond also leads the legal, compliance and facilities operation functions for Western Financial Group (Western) and its affiliates. As a member of the Executive Leadership Group, Bond provides strategic input and direction on a number of key business decisions and initiatives.   

Prior to joining Western, Bond served as a partner in a major national law firm. As a member of the firm, Bond represented Western on a number of significant acquisitions over the last 16 years, including the purchase of Coast Capital Insurance Services and Falkins Insurance. He also led the firm’s recruiting efforts and served? on the Professional Services, Inclusion and Diversity Committees.

Bond has held a number of additional leadership roles, including serving as President of the Canadian Bar Association (BC Chapter), on the Board of Directors of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and the International Franchise Association’s Diversity Institute. He currently serves as a Governor of the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alberta. He has been recognized by leading national and international publications and peer rating programs as a leading lawyer in Canada for a number of years, and was named a Vancouver “Lawyer of the Year” in 2014. Bond was appointed Queen’s Counsel by the government of British Columbia in 2010 - an honour reserved for no more than 7% of lawyers in that province.

 

      

Joe Sirianni 
Executive Vice President (EVP), Network                    

 
As Executive Vice President, Network, Joe Sirianni leads Western Financial Group's more than 160 insurance brokerages in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Sirianni joined Western in February 2012 as Vice President of Business Development and was promoted to Executive Vice President, Sales in December 2012.  He assumed his current role in November 2013.

Prior to joining Western, he spent the past 20 years at TD Bank Financial Group where he held increasingly senior roles, including Regional Sales Manager of the Mortgage Specialist Group and National Sales Manager, TD Insurance.  As a member of TDBFG, he led various business units from large multi-location branches to regional specialized sales teams and a national sales team.

An executive with more than 20 years experience in the financial services industry, his expertise lies in sales management, sales strategy, plan implementation and operations, change management and recruiting.

Sirianni holds an MBA from Athabasca University and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Calgary. He has his Canadian securities course designation from the Canadian Securities Institute and his Personal Financial Planner designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers. 

 

      

Doug Bennett
Executive Vice President, Information Technology                                             


Doug Bennett is the Executive Vice President (EVP) of Information Technology (IT) for Western Financial Group (Western). Bennett oversees all IT support, applications development, technology, communications and data management for the organization.

He is a veteran IT professional with more than 25 years of experience working various capacities.  Prior to join Western in 2005, Bennett held a variety of consulting roles and worked for Parks Canada for 9 years maintaining their computer networking within Western Canada.

Bennett started his career in 1986, working for a company called Digital Equipment Corporation.

 

Our Founder

      Scott Tannas
Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board                         

 
Scott Tannas is the Founder and Vice-Chairman of Western Financial Group. From humble beginnings as a small town insurance agent in High River, Alberta, Scott engineered the building of Western, through more than one hundred acquisitions and countless strategic initiatives, all while fostering a corporate culture around Western’s Guiding Principles of Truthfulness, Fairness, Value and Loyalty.

Today, Western is a diversified financial services organization, with more than 1,900 employees providing more than 800,000 customers with insurance and investment products and services. The company’s network of more than 160 offices stretches across the West from Winnipeg to the Pacific coast.

On the journey from small town insurance agency to one of Canada’s largest companies, Western has garnered many awards and citations, including multi -year winners of Profit 100 and Alberta Fast 50 awards for business growth, as well as Top Employer honours for exceptional practices in Human Resources. In 2003, Scott accepted the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, dedicating the honour to the men and women of Western, and their steadfast support of the vision and mission of the Company.

On April 15, 2011 Western was acquired by Quebec based Desjardins Group, in a $440 million transaction. In the 15 years between the IPO in 1996, and Western’s return to a privately owned company in 2011, the company’s stock price rose 1038%. Scott and his management team remain committed to growing Western and creating value for their new owner for many years to come.

Scott is a director of a number of private and public businesses, including Western and its federally regulated subsidiaries, Western Financial Insurance Company and Western Life. In addition to his business commitments, he is a member of the Ranchmen's Club of Calgary, a Director and fundraiser for SOS Children’s Villages Canada, and Chairman of the Western Communities Foundation.

In addition to his roles with Western, Scott also serves as a member of the Senate of Canada, a position to which he was appointed to in 2013.

Scott Tannas is a proud native Albertan who was born and raised in High River Alberta, where he continues to reside with his wife Taryn and their four children.