One of Halifax’s greatest challenges in the next decade is attracting and retaining highly skilled and educated talent.
Over the past few years, the Partnership, in collaboration with many of you, has used its Halifax Connector Program to help immigrants and newcomers find their way to gainful and appropriate employment here in Halifax.
This is the first of seven stories showing what you have made possible.
Halifax is a lot smaller than Atlanta, Georgia but Rita Wuebbeler likes the small town feel of this city and how easy it is to run into someone she knows.
Rita had built a successful international consulting business specializing in cultural competence building in Atlanta and immigrated to Halifax in 2009 to be able to marry her long-time partner, something not possible in Georgia. Once here, she wanted to establish a Canadian subsidiary of her consulting business and found the Partnership’s Connector Program through her network of contacts via Cathy Jacob of Fire Inside Leadership.
“Cathy was the person who introduced me to Cindy Dean [Project Coordinator for the Connector Program], who in turn put me in touch with my personal ‘GHP connector’ Lynn Coveyduck, Executive Director of Junior Achievement. Lynn connected me to 3 other people right away,” says Rita. One of them was Mike McMurray from NSBI who in turn connected her with Christine Smith, Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada; Doug Phelan at ACOA and Bill Aasvangen and Sandy Gordon at the World Trade & Convention Centre, to name just a few. These connections led to many more in a very short amount of time. Speed networking indeed.
“When I heard about the Connector Program, I thought, ‘this sounds great, but how much does it cost?’ It’s amazing that it’s free,” says Rita. “I thought I was in Paradise when people starting opening up their calendars to meet with me. People here were unexpectedly generous.”
Rita has since developed an impressive network of professional contacts that has enabled her to host an international trade seminar at the World Trade Centre and other professional development programs throughout the city.
Rita first immigrated to the US from Germany 25 years ago. She’s well accustomed to North American culture so her learning curve is pretty flat compared to some newcomers. But because she travels the world with her business, she sees Halifax through a fresh lens – and offers us new view, too.
“There is so much going on in Halifax,” says Rita. “You have Bill Clinton at the Cunard Centre and the Queen of England, the Black-Eyed Peas, Paul McCartney and a Pow Wow on the Commons as well as the Canada Winter Games throughout the city and the province.” It is impressive how quickly Rita can rhyme off these events.
“There’s an open and lively dialogue about the new convention centre and while I won’t publicly weigh in, this conversation leads me to believe you can make a difference here,” says Rita. “I think it’s a vibrant city full of possibilities – and I am happy to be part of it.”
Now, thanks to Rita’s fresh perspective, we have a new view plane on the City for all to see.