Charlene Butler, BComm'96, BSc'96, exemplifies the traits of a trailblazer who shows those around her the true meaning of how hard work and perseverance can pay off.
On March 10 and 11, she was recognized for her contributions to the business world and community by being awarded both the Haskayne School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award in Risk Management and Insurance (RMIN) and the WRC Award of Excellence.
“I was shocked. I knew that I had been nominated for the WRC award, but I certainly did not anticipate winning,” says Butler. “I work with a variety of award nomination committees, so I know the quality of the people that get nominated. I was very shocked, excited, humbled, overjoyed and nervous at the news of my win.”
The WRC Awards of Excellence are presented by the University of Calgary’s Women’s Resource Centre to an outstanding female alumna who has achieved personal or academic excellence, overcome barriers and made an outstanding contribution to the community and shown a demonstrated commitment to advancing women’s issues.
The Distinguished Alumni Award in Risk Management and Insurance recognizes individual success in the fields of risk management and/or insurance as well as excellence in the areas of school support and community involvement. “I have leaned heavily on the degree I received from Haskayne every day,” says Butler. “I can’t thank the faculty enough for that.”
Anne Kleffner, PhD, Haskayne RMIN faculty member, nominated Butler for the RMIN Distinguished Alumni Award: “She has demonstrated professional excellence in her roles in the insurance industry, serving on boards of directors and is currently on the Alberta Insurance Rate board. She has also made significant contributions to the not-for-profit sector through projects that address problems faced by many of the most vulnerable in the community.”
“As well, she is an example of someone committed to life-long learning and who is supportive of education at many different levels," concludes Kleffner.
Most of her volunteer work and the majority of the projects she consults on directly impact women and their families. Prior to founding her company, Butler Business Solutions Ltd. (BBS), Butler worked for over 22 years in the petroleum, insurance and risk management sectors.
Butler credits her parents and daughters for being the true inspiration behind all she has accomplished. She is very proud of the example she set for her daughters and other women.
“I was a single mom, with guardianship of my father and grandmother, and I completed two degrees in three and a half years, receiving honours in both. You just do it. Quitting wasn’t an option. My two little girls looked up at me and believed that one day we would all go to school together because mommy went to school and that just what adults did, they thought. That actually happened as they were both attending university when I completed my MBA.”
Butler has also done extensive work in the community with Indigenous persons, immigrants and refugees.
“In the field I work in and where I volunteer my time, I spend lots of time with immigrant, refugee and Indigenous persons. What many of these individuals have gone through is so much more than any challenge I have ever faced. True resilience is losing family to war and overcoming it. They inspire me every day,” says Butler.
“I am very fortunate to be at a stage in my career where what I do isn’t about earning an income, it’s about making a difference. People ask me why I do what I do, and it’s because I am selfish! I feel really good when I help others and if I don’t feel good at the end of the day then I need to ask myself why am I doing this?”