Steve’s Story

Stories of Impact

Steve Willems has had an eye for good marketing and communications from an early age. As a former MEI student who took a special interest in marketing, leadership, and internet classes, it wasn’t long until he was running a small web design firm from his basement by the age of 17. He even remembers a time when he needed his mom to drop him off at a client’s office in downtown Vancouver and had to then use his client’s office phone to call his mom to ask to be picked up. Times have since changed but these experiences are early indications of Steve’s passion and entrepreneurial spirit that he used to propel himself into a successful career.

The implied message of receiving an award

During his later years of secondary school, Steve knew exactly where he wanted to go for his post-secondary education; he also knew that it would be very expensive. Although he was fortunate to have financial help from his family, he was still concerned about the high costs of education. This is exactly what led him to apply for an award through the Abbotsford Community Foundation’s Student Award Program. Steve remembers walking across the stage at Sevenoaks Alliance Church at the end of his graduating year but has a hard time recalling the moment they announced he was the successful recipient of a student award. The excitement and overwhelming feeling of crossing the stage got the best of him at that moment. Thankfully his parents were right there shortly after to remind him that the envelope in his hands was a student award sponsored by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. Steve remembers feeling unworthy of such an award but now looking back he sees that the award was an affirmation of all the hard work he had put in up until that point.

The award reminded him to “keep it up, keep learning, and keep serving”.

From basement to dorm room to board room

Steve took the skills he learned in the basement of his childhood home to pursue a diploma from Saskatchewan Polytechnic and a degree from Briercrest College. His time at both institutions helped to strengthen his marketing, business, communications, and leadership skills. To get that practical and hands-on experience he was craving, Steve took on a practicum with FirstPage Marketing in the summer of his 3rd year of studies. He then returned to the agency in a full-time permanent position after graduation a year later. He worked closely with clients solving their marketing & communication challenges, while also assisting directly with the graphic design work. This is where he discovered his passion for developing good relationships with clients to better help create meaningful solutions for their businesses.
As it would turn out though, Steve eventually pivoted into a wealth management practice where he found the appealing collision of his three passions: finance, relationships, and philanthropy. As a Wealth Advisor, Steve now thrives in an environment where he gets to work closely with his clients to take the worry out of their wealth.  A particular interest has arisen in helping families deal with the multi-generational challenges that come with their wealth, and specifically figuring out how to pass along family values of philanthropy to children and grandchildren – paving the way for good inheritors.
Most importantly, he loves helping his clients figure out how they can leave a lasting impact on this world, how they can give more, and how they can help craft solutions to societal problems – local and abroad – and often in ways they never thought possible.

The full circle moment

In addition to helping his clients give back, Steve is practicing what he preaches as one of the newest members of our Board of Directors. This is a full circle moment for Steve as he serves as our Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee. In this role, his job is to help amplify our foundation’s voice so more community members can access our granting programs, just like he did many years ago.
Steve wants to thank all those that continue to support the Student Awards Program as well as the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce who sponsored his award many years ago. He feels as though the award was a meaningful step in his journey. At graduation, he didn’t know how that moment would fit into his path but looking back it helped him take a positive step forward and continue on in his pursuit of leading a life of impact.
For more information about our Student Awards Program, click here.


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