September 28, 2020

BY JESSICA REDIKER

The name Janie Renwick may not ring any bells with Conestoga College students, but a recent Waterloo Region Record story that published her annual salary raised questions about who she is and what she does.

Renwick is the general manager of Conestoga Students Inc., and according to the Record article, she makes $92,000 annually.

Her earnings were published, along with those of several other student government general managers from Waterloo Region, after controversy erupted at McMaster University in Hamilton over the allocation of student fees by their part-time students’ association, whose executive director was paid $126,151 in 2011, according to the Hamilton Spectator.

Though The Record cited Renwick’s supervised staff as being 10 full-time employees, her staff also includes more than 40 part-time employees.

While it’s not $126,000, Renwick’s paycheque is a considerable amount – one that Ciara Byrne, the president of CSI, says is completely justified given Renwick’s responsibilities.

“She’s the adviser to the board, she manages the whole organization, she deals with the financials and she sits on every college committee there is,” said Byrne, explaining that everything CSI does, Renwick’s name is attached to – including every risk.

“God forbid a student drives home drunk and dies or gets hurt. She can be sued not only through the company, but personally because her name’s on the liquor licence.”

Renwick has held her current position for four years and her responsibilities include overseeing CSI’s staffing and organization, making sure every service area runs smoothly, handling business negotiations and signing contracts that affect all campuses.

Renwick says her pay cannot be compared to anyone else’s.

“There’s different dynamics. How long have they been in their position? I’ve been here for 14 years. I have a lot of experience under my belt,” said Renwick, who graduated from the office administration executive program at Sir Sandford Fleming College and filled various positions there over the years before joining the team at Conestoga as  executive assistant to the Doon Student Association, (CSI’s predecessor), in 1999.

Renwick was recruited internally and hired to her current position in 2009, with a starting salary of $88,000.

That wage was determined using a website specifically designed to compare wages across all industries. At PayScale.com users enter specific information about location, duties, staff, experience and years of service, and are presented with the spectrum of wages for similar positions.

According to Byrne, all CSI staff pay is in the 50th percentile, including Renwick’s, and this is comparable to the wages of other general managers in the region.

The Record published the earnings of the student government managers at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, whose earnings were both in the $73,000 to $109,000 range, a $36,000 difference that Renwick says is standard across the board.

“We’re all within that range. That’s what we get paid.”

While the pay is good, it isn’t the only silver lining.

“It’s giving back to the students – that’s the key thing. There are some people who can work in this area and there are some people who cannot.

“I personally have loved it here and I’ve had the opportunity to grow and I’m very fortunate,” Renwick said.