ASPA Member Highlight – Bonita Wong, Finance and Operations Manager, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Science

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Bonita has been on campus for much of her adult life. From a young age, she had a strong interest in the natural world and came to the University of Saskatchewan to pursue that interest. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology (1989), and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (1997), both from the University of Saskatchewan. Bonita has worked continuously on campus since September 1989 but had worked as a secretary and an undergraduate student research hire prior to that time. In 1989, she started working as a Research Technician with the Crop Development Centre, followed by several years with the Department of Biology, and then moved over to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. In 2000, she accepted a new position as Administrative Assistant with the Department of Biology where she stayed for 12 years. She accepted a promotion in 2012 to become the Finance and Operations Manager with the Department of Chemistry. 

Bonita is responsible for managing the budget of the Department of Chemistry in addition to payroll support to faculty for their research hires. As part of her varied duties, she regularly monitors all departmental and research funds, and assists faculty with managing their funds. She is responsible for managing select staff members including those in the Chemistry Stores. Her varied work duties mean that she is in regular contact with staff in many other units on campus including Research Services, Financial Services Division, Connection Point, the Human Resources and Facilities Service Business Advisors, and other College of Arts and Science personnel, and Facilities Management. She provides orientation for new staff and faculty to introduce them to the financial systems and payroll structures at the University. Bonita also works closely with the front office staff to keep payroll running smoothly. With safety of employees a top priority on campus, Bonita monitors safety training/re-training records for her unit, and has been the Fire Marshall for the Thorvaldson Building for the last three years.

What Bonita likes most about her job is that each day is different. There is never a lack of work so boredom is thankfully not an option. Her position involves a wide variety of tasks and she likes to keep busy. What Bonita likes about working at the University of Saskatchewan is the beautiful campus and the people. She believes that the university is a “pleasant place to work”. She loves the “always learning” culture on campus. Bonita also gives credit to the “great staff” that she works with.

Having a high standard when completing each task, and not leaving things partially complete, are two motivating factors that drive Bonita to give her best. Doing her job the best that she can and meeting the needs of people is a reward in itself and gives her great satisfaction at the end of each day.    

Bonita feels that her educational and work background have helped her in her current position. Having worked for many years in a research environment, she understands not only the thought processes and logical progression of doing research, but that experience has also helped her to comprehend the operational needs of the researchers. This has been a huge asset in her administrative career.

Bonita has been an ASPA member for almost 20 years. She was nominated for a College of Arts and Science Dean’s Distinguished Staff Award in 2019.  

What Bonita values most about being an ASPA member is the collegiality. Having a group of colleagues, doing similar administrative duties, to look to for advice and to network with has been invaluable. She especially appreciates social events like the ASPA pizza lunches where she has met work contacts face-to-face, many for the first time, despite having conversed with them for years via email or phone. Bonita is also grateful for the ASPA bargaining team that understands the needs of their fellow members and fights on our behalf to negotiate the best deal possible for a new collective agreement.  

Having spent many years doing contract work with no benefits or employer pension has made her very appreciative of her ASPA position. Although that work was very stimulating, it did not provide any stability for income or career advancement. Her advice to other ASPA members is to “Read the ASPA collective agreement. Be informed about all the perks available to ASPA members, such as employee benefits, the pension plan, their APEF, and the ASPA tuition waiver, so that you can take advantage of these great features you have access to as part of your employment package.”

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