Team Players are Good to Find

Most of us have heard the sayings, “Work like you don’t need the money” or, “If you choose a career you love, you’ll never work another day in your life”.  Both subscribe to the notion that if you find your passion and love your job, it’s not like work, it’s, well, a passion. 

Wouldn’t it be great if each and every one of us found that in our jobs?  I can honestly say that since joining United Way, I do look forward to coming to work – almost every day.  I said almost – there are some days that are less appealing than others but all in all, really a good average.   I like that feeling. 

I am not alone.  As I learn more about my co-workers, it becomes increasingly clear to me that the people I work with feel the same about working for a not-for-profit that helps others.  And they are quite specific about their work with United Way.

Just last week we welcomed a new staff member to United Way.  His name is Eric Upton and he has taken on the role of Sr. Advisor, Community Investments – a position on our Resource Development team.  I knew I had heard his name before, and his face looked vaguely familiar.  As we chatted, he started to reveal a bit more about himself, his professional history and why he had chosen to join United Way. 

This is a person who has already made a huge contribution to our community with his athletic skills – in fact; he helped earn our City of Champions moniker back in the ‘80s.  Eric played professional football for the Edmonton Eskimos for 10 years, five of those years as team captain and six times playing in the Grey Cup final.  During his time with the Esks, Eric and his team were five-time Grey Cup champions and he was awarded Western All-Star – twice.  That’s a pretty good run, I’d say.   

His career outside of football saw him contribute significantly in Sales and Marketing profession by joining the sales force at CBC TV.  He started as a TV ad sales rep in Edmonton and for the next 13 years worked his way through the ranks, spending a bit of time at CBC Ottawa and then back to Edmonton, where he eventually held the position of Sales Manager for CBC TV Alberta. 

His talents didn’t go unnoticed and it wasn’t long before he was picked up by another professional sports team in our city.  The Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club didn’t miss the opportunity to have this proven professional join their roster from 2000 to 2008, first as Director of Sales and then Vice President of Sales.

While all of this was a pretty good career ride, I asked Eric why he chose to join us at United Way.  His answer was pretty simple, “I felt like I needed to be doing something that makes a difference for others. I wanted to work somewhere that I could really contribute the skills I have gathered over the years.  And I needed to be somewhere that aligned with my personal values.  United Way seemed like the best way to give meaning to going to work.” 

Welcome to our team, Eric.  The work we do is not easy, but we think you’re tough and seasoned enough to handle it.


Nancy Critchley is Director, Communications for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and a proud grandma of two beautiful grandchildren.