Halifax Chamber Staff: Where are they now?

Halifax Chamber Staff: Where are they now?

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Contributors:

Erin Elaine Casey

Business Voice sat down with three former stars of the Halifax Chamber staff to find out what they’re up to now, how they’re contributing to the growth and prosperity of our city and how their time at the Chamber contributed to where they are today.

Leanne

Leanne Andrecyk

Managing Partner and Certified Event Manager, ZedEvents great productions

What did you do at the Chamber?

I was initially hired as an Event Manager, one of three that comprised the team there to oversee all the events the Chamber does. At the time, we were averaging about 50 events a year. I worked there for five years and left 13 years ago. Over that time, I transitioned to Manager of Events and oversaw our team in conjunction with my boss. We had a fantastic time.

I loved working at the Chamber. At the time, it was my dream job. Sometimes you have days you really don’t enjoy what you’re doing — I never, ever felt that way there.

I left on parental leave to have my daughter, and while on leave I was approached by ZedEvents with an opportunity to produce the city’s largest fundraiser — it was one I couldn’t pass up!

I still go back to the Chamber and visit all the time. We’ve also worked on events together professionally. There are several Chamber alumni who still get together for lunch or dinner and reminisce.

What’s your role at ZedEvents?

I manage the company. I started out as an Event Producer, and I’ve had several job titles since. I transitioned to Creative Director, and now I’m Managing Partner. Like any small company, one day you’re the CEO and the next day you’re cleaning the toilets. I oversee operations, business development, and creative development for the various projects we take on for our clients.

ZedEvents is involved in producing several local fundraising events and conferences. A large part of what we do is strategic consulting, long before we start planning the event.

Most recently, we had the privilege to be involved with the Barack Obama event — we were hired to oversee logistics for the VIP meet and greet with Obama, so we were right there with him and his secret service team. Our entire team was so excited to be part of that — just ecstatic! I don’t usually get starstruck (you can’t in our industry) but I was definitely starstruck.

Do you have any special memories of your time at the Chamber?

We worked in an open area, and I would talk to myself as I made my way through my checklists for each event and say, “That’s done, that’s done…” The staff at the Chamber gave me a T-shirt with “That’s done” on the front. It became a tradition that I would always wear it the day after each event and parade through the office.

To learn more, visit zedevents.ca

Melissa

Melissa MacDonald

Communications and Marketing Advisor, Halifax International Airport Authority

What did you do at the Chamber?

I worked at the Chamber from 2013 to 2018. I was hired into a position that no longer exists and is now the PR Coordinator role, and this evolved into the Communications Specialist role.

Business Voice was my main gig — making sure that went out on time and we were providing interesting and relevant stories for the members and readership. It was one of my favourite things I got to do while I was there and I was really passionate about it.

It was my first grown-up job out of university. Nancy Conrad (former VP) took a chance on me and I was smitten from the moment I stepped in the building. I was totally on board. I caught the Chamber bug.

Tell us about your current role.

I get to work very closely with the executive management team, which is very exciting and an extension of what I was able to do at the Chamber. Some members of our leadership team get to travel all over the world and speak about what’s going on in Halifax. I’m also very involved in our digital presence: social media, website, intranet for employees.

I’ve been able to focus my efforts based on what I’m passionate about: employee communications. I get to help improve how we communicate with them — making sure they’re getting the information they need, how and when they need it. It’s really gratifying to help employees understand what they bring to the table and how important they are.

I love my job. It’s interesting coming from a pretty small team at the Chamber to an organization with a full public affairs and marketing team. It allows us to become more specialized and focus on our passions a bit more.

What do you bring with you from the Chamber into your new role?

The value of teamwork and having a team that can leverage each other’s strengths and fill in each other’s gaps and take everything to the next level. Nobody at the Chamber does it by themselves. It’s all a group effort, and it was really good to learn that so early in my career. We all just loved what we did so much. It didn’t feel like work.

I was really excited when I joined the Chamber because I’m a huge advocate for Halifax and the business community and how important they are to the region, and that only grew in my time there. Coming to the Halifax International Airport Authority, which is also so important to the region, felt like a natural step because we’re huge participants and community advocates.

Do you have any stories from your time at the Chamber?

One of my first assignments at the Chamber was to work on the Halifax Business Awards, specifically to guide the 30 finalists through the process and ensure everything was ready for the big day. This is a massive undertaking because there are so many things you have to coordinate.

One of the finalists, who required extra attention and guidance, realized just how much time, energy and passion goes into getting it all done and he made me a certificate in the field of “cat herding.” He’s still one of my favourite finalists I had the pleasure of working with, and I still use the phrase “cat herding” to this day!

To learn more, visit halifaxstanfield.ca

Maggie

Maggie MacDonald

Manager, Regional Recreation, Parks and Recreation, Halifax

What did you do at the Chamber?

I was a Policy Analyst from 2004 to 2008, and I worked for Nancy Conrad. I think the role is still there and probably very similar: research, policy papers, working with volunteers, developing a precursor to HRM’s first economic strategy, planning an economic summit. It laid a great foundation for all the things that came next.

I was just starting out. I had completed a Master’s in Public Policy and Public Administration at Concordia and an internship. It was my first real, full-time professional job. I think it was a bit of a philosophy of the Chamber at the time to take young people early in their careers and help them build their careers. There is a bit of a network of alumni and a culture of doing that.

Tell us about your current job.

This is a bit of an evolution for me. I’ve been with the municipality since 2012, at first with the economic development and government relations side. I was interested in getting operational experience, and my current job is a combination of policy and operational.

I manage our community partnerships — upwards of 70 percent of our activities are offered through partner community centres; the culture and events portfolio — logistical support and administration of grants to events, and maintaining and developing public art; facility scheduling across the municipality including community scheduling for schools as well as for parks, arenas, etc.; and bringing all the services online and into a new system. Rec services are online already, and now we’re bringing our multi-district facilities into that system as well. No two days are alike.

What did you bring with you from your time at the Chamber?

Working with volunteers was a big influence on me in terms of appreciating the work they do in our community, and the networks I built are still in place now and I access them regularly. The calibre of volunteers we had at the Chamber – it really built a comfort level about reaching out and asking for help.

The network of Chamber alumni is also really valuable. There’s a feeling of having a network and people you can reach out to and that hasn’t diminished since I left.

Do you have any funny stories about the Chamber?

I remember when I interviewed for the position. The last person I met was Valerie Payn, the President at the time, and I lost my earring during the meeting. The end of the interview was me, Nancy and Valerie all crawling around on the floor looking for my earring. I thought, “I’m never going to get this job!”

To learn more, visit halifax.ca

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