Barbara MacCheyne balances more than books

Barbara MacCheyne (on tricycle) with the rest of her team, Kevin Jones (left), Linda Mondria (middle), Nora Warmuth (right). Photo credit: DC Communications and Marketing

It can only be so interesting having meetings all the time. The entire finance team at Durham College has a lot of meetings involving updates to projects, or fixing corporate level problems.

Barbara MacCheyne is someone on campus who attends the high-stress meetings involving millions of dollars. MacCheyne tries to make her job as fun as possible while also making sure her family, health and social life are all in check. So how does she do it?

MacCheyne organized a small office event called Treat Friday. On the last Friday of every month, the finance department gets together in a board room to talk about anything but work. This is an opportunity for the team to eat baked goods and bond over weekend plans.

Around Halloween two years ago, the finance department had a pumpkin carving contest. However, expanding the number of carvers provided higher levels of fun so the finance department invited the Communications and Marketing team and the IT department to join in on the fun. Another team building event MacCheyne organized was a scavenger hunt around the campus for her team.

The most fun team building event MacCheyne ever organized also ended up being the most challenging to plan. MacCheyne organized an amazing race taking place on campus involving clues leading her department all around campus with stations and tasks to do at each station. Each task was themed to the location. At the international office, for example, one of these tasks was naming six countries that begin with the letter “S”.

“It’s all a good memory,” says MacCheyne, who also enjoys just spending time with friends. She describes herself as a foodie which is someone with an interest in trying lots of different foods.

Going out with friends and trying all sorts of new restaurants is something that she does with friends a lot. Her favourite restaurants are State and Main and Chatterpaul’s. However, these choices are a façade, and the best restaurant in her eyes is Bistro ’67 at the Whitby campus.

“If you’re actually going to publish this, then the number one should really be Bistro ’67,” MacCheyne said jokingly.

Every three months she also tries to get together with her high school girlfriends. Instead of going to the same restaurant every time they try and experience a new restaurant each time.

In her office she also has small plastic trophy with a label saying DCLT Trike Race Champions 2019. In June, Durham College held a fundraiser for United Way Durham. Her team was called the Kicking Assets. They dressed up as accounting nerds with calculators attached to suspenders and big thick frame glasses.

“I strategically picked my team, ” she says, “based on the most competitive people in my department.”

Her team included Norah Warmuth, manager of accounting, Kevin Jones, procurement manager and Linda Mondria, an accounts payable staff member.

“I knew I was going to win with those people on my team,” says MacCheyne.

And the Kicking Assets did not let her down.

“I brag about it all the time,” says MacCheyne.

All this fun doesn’t mean she doesn’t take her job very seriously. MacCheyne said she didn’t really have any role models when she was younger but she had mentors in her previous job and that really helped her develop her skill set.

“I always did look up to managers or directors that were in higher positions than me,” says MacCheyne. “They were able to mentor me through the process.”

She started her profession as an accounts payable clerk and worked her way up by focusing on her job and becoming involved with the profession and with her peers.

“In 2009 we had a lot of issues,” she admits. The evidence is framed on her wall: an audit report. It reminds her of the biggest hurdle she had to overcome when working at Durham College.