Heather Santamaria

Heather Santamaria

Areas of Expertise

  • Retail Financial Services
  • Credit Risk Management
  • Program Management
  • Business Strategy and delivery
  • Vendor management
  • Leadership


Professional Affiliations

Women In Leadership - Mentor


An opportunity for women Leaders to share wisdom, knowledge and experience with motivated, bright and capable women who seek Leadership roles and guidance on developing work/life balance.

Halton Mentoring Partnership Programme - Mentor


Assist professionals and executives who have emigrated to Canada establish a professional network in Canada

 President, Credit Scoring and Risk Strategy Association 2004-2006

Provide oversight to the organization with membership that included credit and risk professionals from all the major Financial Institutions and lenders in Canada.

Represented the organization to various sponsors and at industry events and activities. Fulfilled the mandate of furthering Risk education through developing seminars on a variety of relevant topics.  Chaired monthly Board meetings and quarterly General meetings.

  • led two large offsite conferences, focused on knowledge-building and networking in the credit and risk scoring industry
 Board of Directors, Credit Scoring and Risk Strategy Association 2002-2007

Work History

Work History
2008 - Present

Principal, Credit Risk Management

HLS Consulting

Provided key strategic support for a major company entering financial services arena in Canada.

  • Created for the client their inaugural risk policy for submission to Canadian regulatory agencies, key to being granted a Bank Charter in Canada
  • Advised on outsourcing partnership and strategic approach to Tier 1 outsourced contract management
  • Designed and created the Risk Management discipline in an international technology and consulting firm
2009 - 2010

AVP Visa Operations

Home Trust Company
  • Developed a customer launch strategy for EMV implementation across the enterprise.
  • Led team through risk evaluation and devised the process for the large scale implementation and portfolio conversion.
  • Designed new and redeveloped existing products, built a program to launch an unsecured credit card forecasted to grow client base by 25%.
  • Sourced and secured new partners to develop a new prepaid card product; prepared and delivered business case to Executive Team targeted to double card base in year 1.
  • Drove innovation in pricing, placement and strategy, introducing analytics discipline across the business to support forecasting and profitability.
  • Acknowledged for operational efficiency, identifying opportunities for upgrades eliminating 4 FTE’s while increasing efficiency, leveraging technology, and boosting accuracy with no investment.
2007 - 2008

Senior Vice President Financial Services and Chief Risk Officer

DCR Strategies Inc./Choice Capital

Launched personal lending company that developed tailored solutions for companies looking to provide financing for their customers.

  • Created and led strategic direction and oversight of operations and risk management strategy for Consumer Finance business
  • Responsible for Credit, Risk, Product Management and Operations
  • Secured $25 million debt facility for funding of receivable
  • Implemented three corporate clients
  • Grew business from concept to $1 million in outstandings in four months
  • Managed all partner relationships
  • Designed originations and back-end account management systems
2002 - 2007

Vice President Risk Management

President's Choice Financial (Loblaw Companies Limited)

Led the growth of Canada's fastest growing MasterCard portfolio through achieving key success in managing the Risk/Reward trade-off.  Introduced Enterprise Risk Management Strategy to President's Choice Financial. Served as Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer for the Bank.

Responsible for four departments: Credit and Fraud Risk Strategy, Collections, Fraud Operations and Enterprise Risk Management (including Business Continuity) and owned the P and L for each of those areas.

  • Executive Sponsor for major services re-engineering project, resulting in anticipated $50mm operational cost savings over 5 years
  • Completed first test of Emergency management protocol for President's Choice Financial
  • Through judiciously applied and monitored credit risk strategy, grew the portfolio 4-fold from $400M to excess of $1.6B, the fastest growing MasterCard in the Canadian marketplace 4 years running


Associate General Manager, Core Banking and Insurance

Led two distinct business units with President's Choice Financial during a time of significant transition and growth.  Provided executive oversight of 6 call centres supporting the Insurance business, both in Canada and abroad.

Responsible for strategy, product management in both businesses.  Owned the key partnership relationships with our insurers and banking partner. 

  • Launched the PC travel insurance product
  • Launched Interest Plus Savings Product, exceeding first year fund targets in funds under management resulting in a $200mm increase in funds under management within the first year
  • Managed marketing budget of $12 million
  • Led Core and Insurance product management teams in largest multi-media marketing campaign produced by President's Choice Financial

Director, Risk Management and Collections

Built and led a team of credit risk and collections professionals to achieve a simultaneous 2-fold growth in outstandings and 25% reduction in credit losses.

Responsible for Credit Risk and Collections at pivotal point in the development of a new credit portfolio. Personally committed to reigning in losses to the President of Loblaw which was achieved within first 18 months. 

  • Created Risk management infrastructure
  • Hired, trained and led team of managers and analysts
  • Regularly led credit due diligence for Bond Rating Agencies, Regulators and securitization Trusts
  • Initiated and led the first sale of distressed debt, generating $300K in income
1999 - 2002

Manager, Risk Management

Hudson Bay Company

Developed the Acquisition Strategy and analysis for a large retail credit portfolio of 5M Canadian customers.

  • Led a team of two credit Analysts responsible for all acquisitions credit and Fraud policy and procedures.
  • Led the project analyzing the feasibility of launching a low rate card within the HBC portfolio
  • Implemented leading edge instant credit application process.
1991 - 1999

Portfolio Manager, VISA

TD Bank

Created and managed risk and credit acquisition for the suite of TD Visa products, which included premium card, standard and low rate card products.

  • Implemented Y2K test plan with credit bureaus and other third-party suppliers.
  • Negotiated and supported contract for installation and validation of small business visa generic scorecards



Bachelor of Arts, Economics



Vendor/Partner Management

Member of the senior leadership team of innovative Canadian bank with completely outsourced operations Led risk management, fraud operations and collections teams through RFP creation, vendor selection and contract negotiation processes Led core banking and Insurance operations teams to deliver through partner delivery model Experience with off-shore call centres and brand management Co-led the complete re-engineering of Banking operations services through conversion to new service provider

Executive Leadership

Leads by example, hands-on and technically proficient Leadership-style:  supportive of individual achievement and growth, allows reports to problem-solve and develop their style independently Driven by goal-achievement, team work and recognition of members going above and beyond Believes team leader is ulitmately accountable for the team's performance and results Develops strong mentoring reolationships with subordinates