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Shehzad Somji appointed as City of New Westminster’s new finance director

One down, two to go: New West fills vacancy on senior management team with appointment of new finance director
Somji Shehzad has been named as the City of New Westminster's new finance director. His first day on the job is Dec. 1.

A financial professional who has worked for municipalities and school districts will soon take the helm of the City of New Westminster’s finance department.

The City of New Westminster has announced the appointment of Shehzad Somji as the city’s new director of finance. He will begin his role with the city on Dec. 1.

“On behalf of the City of New Westminster, I would like to welcome Shehzad Somji to our organization,” Lisa Spitale, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in a news release. “We are very fortunate to have Shehzad as our new director of finance. Given the many opportunities that New Westminster is pursuing, Shehzad’s leadership and financial expertise will be a real asset to our organization.”

According to the city, Somji is an accomplished financial professional with extensive experience in the fields of accounting and finance. He holds Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified General Accountant designations.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to join the team at the City of New Westminster,” Somji said in the news release. “I look forward to leading the finance department and supporting city council with their priorities and initiatives for the community.”

Somji fills a role formerly held by Harji Varn, who left that role in the spring to become the chief financial officer at Metro Vancouver. Since Varn’s departure, Jacqueline Dairon, manager of financial services for the New Westminster Police Department, has also been serving as the city’s acting director of finance.

Somji started his career at First Credit Union, where he served as the controller and then chief financial officer for 19 years, and he then became the chief financial officer for the City of Powell River. Other roles include serving as secretary treasurer for School District No. 48 (Sea to Sky) and as assistant secretary treasurer for the Vancouver School Board.

“Throughout his career, Shehzad has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence and a passion for delivering high-quality financial services,” said the city. “He has built a reputation as a trusted advisor and strategic thinker, and he is widely respected for his integrity, work ethic and leadership skills.”

According to Somji’s LinkeIn profile, he is also the owner of the Pharmasave West Esplanade store in North Vancouver.

Filling vacancies at city hall

The director of finance job is one of three positions on the City of New Westminster’s senior management team that have been vacant, with the chief librarian and director of climate action, planning and development roles also being vacant.

Somji will become the fourth person to serve as the city’s chief financial officer in the past five years.

After 21 years with the City of New Westminster, Gary Holowatiuk retired as the city’s director of finance and information technology in 2018. Assistant finance director Colleen Ponzini was promoted to the director’s role in April 2019, but left in March 2020 after being named the City of White Rock’s finance director.

Varn joined the City of New Westminster as its chief financial officer in September 2020, before accepting a new job at Metre Vancouver earlier this year.