Forecasting for a solid future

Raffaela Mendel, Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis

Raffaela stands in front a university building and holds up a white sign that says 'I take care of our community by looking beyond numbers and into the future.'

Raffaela works with her team to ensure a sound financial position for UBC for generations to come.

VPFO Strategic Direction 3
Enhance our sustainability and financial accountability

The VP Finance & Operations portfolio (VPFO) is made up of individuals from diverse cultural, social and professional backgrounds. We wear all sorts of hats in our lives, but what unites us is our unwavering dedication to building a solid foundation for the university’s success.

Born and raised in Germany, Raffaela Mendel has a lot of identities — she’s a former competitive swimmer, a Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis with UBC’s Treasury team, and a dog mom to her 7-year-old mini-poodle, May.

This week, Raffaela shares what it is like working in a team as diverse as Treasury, what respect means to her professionally, and how she drives the university forward as an analyst, learner and connector.

What do you do for the VPFO?

“In a sense, my role goes beyond being just an analyst — I’m also a learner and connector.”

– Raffaela Mendel

I work as part of a team in Treasury to ensure a sound financial position for the university through data-driven insights, with financial models that support everything from operational decision-making to capital planning.

When people hear financial modelling, their minds immediately go to spreadsheets. But a significant portion of our efforts goes into building relationships with stakeholders to truly grasp their objectives. We also work closely with our cross-functional partners, leveraging their wealth of institutional knowledge and expertise. In a sense, my role goes beyond being just an analyst — I’m also a learner and connector.

What do you like most about working in Treasury?

I feel grateful to be a part of this remarkably collaborative and diverse team. It’s incredible how we bring together people with various professional backgrounds, levels of experience and cultures — we have eight countries represented on our team!

Last year, we even held an internal competition to name our new meeting rooms and decided on naming each room after a different foreign currency: dollar, euro, peso, renminbi and rupee.

A special thank you to the Facilities team for completing renovations in the Old Administration Building so our team members can sit together and have a home base for collaboration and meetings.

The Treasury team meets in a boardroom

The new Treasury offices were designed with the technologies in place to empower the team to collaborate seamlessly and productively.

What is a location on campus that is meaningful to you?

Our office is located near UBC’s Rose Garden, and I stop by every time I come to campus. I’ve been living in Vancouver for seven years now and I’m still in awe of the beauty both on campus and in this city. The stunning ocean and mountain views I can see from campus remind me to be grateful to live and work in such a beautiful place.

What are you most proud of during your time at VPFO?

I’m most proud of the partnerships we’ve built as a team. UBC is a large and complex organization so building those relationships with stakeholders has helped us understand their goals and priorities and how our work intersects, and ultimately continue to improve the financial analysis we provide.

It has also been rewarding to see some of the projects I’ve worked on go through the UBC Board of Governors approval process and then be implemented across the university. Seeing the tangible impact of our efforts on the university’s operations is so fulfilling, like with the Digital Payments Program and the Trek flat Spend Proposal, which was one of the first big and complex projects I worked on when I first joined UBC in 2019.


The Treasury team which include Raffaela worked on The Trek flat spend policy, a spending policy that was proposed for the Trek endowment, which was approved in 2021.

What does Strategic Direction 3: Enhance our sustainability and financial accountability mean to you?

Our financial models and analyses focus on assessing the potential financial impacts of various projects and initiatives, both in the short-term and long-term. This can be challenging, given the dynamic nature of UBC and the multitude of factors we encounter along the way.

What drives us forward is knowing that through improving our forecasting accuracy and delivering relevant and actionable information, we can empower sound financial decision-making and mitigate risks for our community.

For you, what makes UBC different?

Respect is the foundation for great collaboration, and UBC provides a safe space for people to share different ideas as well as voice respect and appreciation for the effort and care that goes into everyone’s work.

What I find unique and appreciate is the long-term perspective UBC takes in making financial decisions to ensure the university can support its academic mission not just for the next few years but for the next generations.

Raffaela turns her head to the right while walking through the Rose Garden

There are endless opportunities to learn at UBC, whether through partners, stakeholders or the community.

A typical weekend for you is…

I enjoy slow-paced weekends. Maybe heading out for a long walk with my partner and my dog and grabbing coffee and pastries at a local coffee shop or bakery on the way. Pacific Spirit Park and Spanish Banks Beach are some of our favourite spots in the city for dog walks.

I also like to take some time during the weekend to connect with friends and family both in person and virtually for those living abroad.

Tell us one thing people don’t know about you.

I was a competitive swimmer for the German national youth team for many years and still enjoy swimming when I get a chance. I am a big fan of the UBC Aquatic Center and spend a lot of time there.

The last big event I competed in was at the FINA World Masters Championships in 2014 in Montréal, a biannual international swimming competition which brings together thousands of athletes across the globe — I placed 6th in my age group!