The Aptus Team
We have a bright team, we did that on purpose. Smart shows up lots of ways in the world. Some people are smart because their IQ is off the charts, other people are smart because they really know how to handle things or how things work on the street, or on Wall Street.
Other people are smart in the way they dress, and still others in the way they have clever or insightful ways they view things.
No matter what way a person is smart, what’s important is that you have people with the right kind of smarts on your side.
We’ve been fortunate with our team. In the short bios that follow, you’ll get a flavour of the smarts of our team. But more importantly, we think you’ll get an idea of the kind of people we are. Our work isn’t about building spreadsheets to compare pricing (although that’s necessary sometimes). Our work is about bringing a few decades of solving complex problems through intelligent plan design to bear on your questions, your organizations and your plan members. That’s where we’re smart.
Bill Watt – Principal
While most people spend their time trying to find solutions, Bill spends his trying to find problems – because he’s exceptional at designing ways to handle them. (If you asked Bill, he wouldn’t say he’s exceptional – he’d say he just cares).
There are boundaries in the world, some of them real, others are more flexible than we think. Part of Bill’s “smarts” is that he has an ability to find where the boundaries really are, not just where we’ve thought them to be. He doesn’t do it in a pushy or irresponsible way; he’s simply familiar with understanding the limits of things and knowing when not to push those limits any farther.
Whether it’s skiing, motorcycles or designing employee benefits, Bill tends to find the apex of things. He didn’t just learn to ski, he was a professional ski patroller in his younger days. He doesn’t just enjoy the occasional ride on his motorcycle, he’s completed the Iron Butt Rally (it’s 11,000 miles in 11 days) twice and now supports the organization of this international event. And with employee benefits, Bill is known as one of the experts you bring to the table when it’s complex.
A graduate of Glendon College, York University and the Advanced Investments Management Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Bill lives a simple belief that we have a responsibility to support and be active in our community, country, and world. That’s why you’ll find him supporting the Shooting Stars Foundation for people living with HIV, actively involved with Equitas – the national organization advocating for better care for our veterans, and taking trips to Cambodia to build homes (there’s a good chance if you get to know Bill you’ll be invited to buy or build a house alongside Bill).
Bill is also a recipient of the BC Ambulance Association’s Humanitarian Award in recognition of his active involvement with a medical crisis in his own neighbourhood. The core of the matter is that when we have the capacity to help, in whatever way, we should. And he does.
He has been the Chair of the Board of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, the President of The Estate Planning Council of Vancouver, and is a cat lover (which is confusing when you consider the level of his support for the Avalanche Dog Program in Whistler).
Bill’s also serious about his professional accreditations. In addition to being a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), a Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC) and a Chartered Financial Consultant (CHFC), Bill has taken the time to become a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner (CFP) as well, because there are definitely times when his clients need to make personal risk management, benefit and planning decisions.
Bill doesn’t do this work as “work,” he does it as a calling. It has been a successful one and continues to grow on the strength of the deep commitment the firm has to its clients, and Bill’s deep commitment to leading that effort.
Joanne Woodrow – PRINCIPAL
If you ask Joanne what her job is, she won’t miss a beat. She’ll tell you, “I’m here to help.”
Joanne started in the employee benefits world fifteen years ago and has built a real expertise in designing and supporting Group Retirement Plans. Energetic by nature [you need only have a quick conversation to be convinced of that], she has spent her entire career in the benefits arena.
Is she serious about the work? Let’s put it this way: she is a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS), a Certified Financial Planner® practitioner (CFP), a Certified Health Insurance Specialist (CHS), has earned the Canadian Investment Management (CIM) designation, and completed the Canadian Securities Course, the Conduct and Practices Handbook Course, Investment Management Techniques Course, the Portfolio Management Techniques Course and the Advanced Investments Management Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Joanne knows what she’s talking about.
Joanne isn’t all work, though. She enjoys the gym, hanging with her family (including super kittens Max & Milo), and is a pretty ferocious knitter. Joanne keeps a great balance, while she tips the scales in the best interest of our clients.
She’s here to fix problems. She’s here to help plan sponsors avoid problems. She’s here because she has a real desire to make sure everything comes together for you. We’re glad Joanne is on the team, and know that you will be too.
Susan Murphy – Operations Leader
Susan is in motion. Whether she’s riding her motorcycle (looking fierce) or driving our operation, she’s one of those people with a lot of positive energy. That’s one of the many reasons we’re thrilled she’s our Operations Leader.
With a really diverse background, she brings a range of perspective that’s both useful, and refreshing. Susan was the Founding President and helped create the International Performing Arts for Youth organization, has worked with arts organizations across the country and was on the board of the National Association of Performing Arts Managers and Agents in New York City for three years. She’s had several sales roles, in different businesses and has an easy ability to move things from concept to completion.
Like most of us, she’s enjoyed some great successes, and some tough times in her life. Her balanced perspective takes it all in stride and, ultimately, she can’t help but see things as an optimist. That’s why you can expect empathy, clarity and action from Susan.
Cat lover; passionate world traveler; and operations aficionado, Susan gets things done with enthusiasm.
Gwen Ceulen – Senior Service Consultant
Gwen Ceulen joined Aptus Benefits in 2019 after a long and successful career at Great-West Life (recently re-branded as Canada Life).
Gwen joined Great-West Life in 1984 as a Pension Administrator. She moved from Pensions to the Group Benefits Division in 1987. In 1991, she was promoted to Group Client Service Manager, responsible for managing the Service and Administration Team in the Vancouver Group Office. In addition to managing the team, she worked closely with the Great-West Head Office in the development of products and reporting for clients. She looked after a key group of clients, including Telus, The Pattison Group, Ledcor and the Province of British Columbia. She assisted with the development of a New Group Implementation Team and ongoing leadership of the team.
At Aptus, Gwen provides consulting and administration advice to our clients, including Employee Welfare Plans and Trustee Plans. Her insurance background provides unique and valuable experience for Aptus’ clients with respect to new plan implementation and understanding of group contracts.
Outside of Aptus Gwen loves to spend time with her daughter & two grand dogs, Lulu and Millie and playing the piano while taking in the exquisite views from her high-rise windows. Hawaii beckons her at every chance – it is definitely her “happy place”.
A straight shooter, a calming influence, a lover of fashion (with the enviable ability to wear heels of any height) – we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Gwen as part of the dynamic team at Aptus!
Nicole Teskey – Client Services Representative
Nicole grew up in the Fraser Valley, moving to Vancouver in spring of 2015. Before joining Aptus, Nicole had over seven years of Customer Service working for Shaw Cable in Technical Support and with Microsoft Canada in their retail operations. While at Microsoft, Nicole completed her MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert) program and assisted at one of the largest Microsoft conferences in the United States.
Since starting at Aptus Benefits, Nicole has completed both the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Fundamentals of Retirement Plans and Fundamentals of Group Benefits programs. Nicole is currently studying for her GBA1 designation through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).
Nicole’s interest for Benefits developed from a personal experience with health care when she was diagnosed at age 19 with cancer. This life changing experience has given Nicole a lot of empathy and she takes great pride in helping our clients and their employees understand and manage their benefit plans.
In her spare time Nicole can be found at the gym or out on adventures with her 9-year-old chihuahua Blair who she describes as extremely food driven, with treats, naps, and hikes basically summing her up. We have decided that basically sums up her co-workers as well.
We are delighted to have Nicole as a valued member of our Client Services team – you will be as well!