Introducing Kent Roberts

Introducing Kent Roberts

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Contributors:

Mina Atia
Halifax Chamber of Commerce
Intern, Communications Coordinator
KR
Kent Roberts, VP of Policy at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce

When Nancy Conrad retired from her role after 25 years of incredible service, the Halifax Chamber welcomed its new vice president of policy, Kent Roberts.

After a five-year stint at the Department of Business with the Government of Nova Scotia, Roberts transitioned from the civil service to the not-for-profit sector.

“This opportunity with the Halifax Chamber allows me to put my private sector and civil service experience to use, helping Halifax businesses and the province thrive and succeed,” says Roberts.

“It allows me to reconnect directly with business stakeholders while using my government experience and contacts to provide access, insight and value to our members.”

“And of course this is a great opportunity to work with a small team of very talented people at the Chamber that are doing great work,” he says.

Born in Nova Scotia but raised in Newfoundland, Roberts received a Bachelor of Commerce from Memorial University and then spent four years serving as an Artillery Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces.

After leaving the Armed Forces, he returned to Newfoundland and started his career in the consumer-packaged goods industry as a salesperson with Quaker Oats.

This new career path took him on many journeys ­– from managing the Atlantic Canadian Sales team in Halifax, to a marketing role in Peterborough, ON, a regional sales manager role at Frito Lay, to a senior marketing role in Toronto and then back to Atlantic Canada as vice president of sales and distribution for Farmers Dairy and finally as Managing Director at the Department of Business with the NS Government.

Roberts has been married for 28 years to his wife Monique and has two children, Cameron and Sarah. Roberts and his wife recently downsized by renovating a 180-year old North End house, which was featured in a 2016 The Coast article and they thoroughly enjoy the life style this eclectic neighbourhood provides.

When asked what his greatest accomplishments were, Roberts had this to say: “I am so proud of my wife and children and their accomplishments, so that is definitely number one. Certainly I’m also proud to have served my country, and I treasure that experience and the friends I made there and still have.”

“My volunteer work over the years – culminating as President of the Grocery Foundation of Atlantic Canada – having raised over six million dollars for local children’s hospitals in Atlantic Canada. I have also always enjoyed building and leading sales teams that overachieved their targets and personal goals,” he adds.

Roberts has several recently successful projects under his belt of professional experiences.

Leading the team that managed the Rural Internet for Nova Scotia project, they were able to secure over $190 million from government to improve internet service in rural N.S. Similarly leading the multidisciplinary team that initiated and completed the now world recognized COVE ( Center for Oceans Ventures and Entrepreneurship) project in Dartmouth was a wonderful legacy moment. Roberts also led the development of the first ever Social Enterprise strategy for N.S. and helped secure the 2021 Social Enterprise World Forum for Halifax.

As the provincial lead on the Federal/Provincial Working Group on Social Finance and Innovation, Roberts was able to support and help launch a $750-million national fund in 2019.

Roberts has had quite the noteworthy career so far, and he’s just getting started.

An avid golfer, Roberts has been to Scotland three out of the past four years to play some of the worlds iconic courses and certainly speaks of the similarities of the warm people of Scotland and of his native Nova Scotia. But par for the course, golfing isn’t the only skill he brings to the Halifax Chamber.

With his broad background in private and public sectors, Roberts accumulated a wealth of knowledge and skills in sales, marketing, distribution and senior management.

He has a deep understanding of business perspective, strategy and execution. Not only is he able to build strong relationships with stakeholders, but he can also navigate the inner workings of policy, program implementation and corporate bodies thanks to his years of working with and in the government.

“Working for the economic development department allowed me to have a hands-on role in developing the economic policy for the province, while building the stakeholder engagement needed to implement the programs generated by policy,” he says.

Joining the Halifax Chamber team marks Robert’s inauguration into the not-for-profit sector and he views that shift as the next evolution in his career and a real opportunity to make a difference with the Chambers members and the community as a whole.

“Simply put, the private sector is shareholder focused, the government is citizen focused and the not-for-profit sector is client focused,” says Roberts.

“The not-for-profit sector is managed by the most selfless group of people working to achieve meaningful change for others, however, they are often burdened with insufficient funding and support.”

“Even though society in general would be in major trouble without the work they do,” he says.

Roberts believes each sector has been rewarding for him in broadening his knowledge, experience and appreciation. By bringing his extensive repertoire of skills and experiences, he’s more than capable of going to great lengths for Chamber members.

“I hope I can add value to our members by advocating their needs to the various levels of government locally, provincially and nationally,” he says. “To enable meaningful change in policy and programs that directly benefit our members and the general business community across the province.”

Roberts is ready to tackle on new tasks with the Chamber and to deliver on his personally-cherished value of giving back.

He sees a shift happening in the traditional view of economic, business and personal success. A shift that is happening world wide where success is measured not just in shareholder value, bottom line or GDP but also in the overall social wellbeing of employees and the population.

“There has never been a more important or opportune time to look at inclusive economic growth and social wellbeing as a baseline for businesses and economies to measure their long term success,” says Roberts.

From a leadership perspective, Roberts urges managers to hire the best and brightest at all times, and if possible, make sure they are even more capable than you “The best team raises all boats, including your own,” he says.

His words of advice to young professionals, embarking on their new careers, “The best success is not individual; it comes from a team succeeding. Individual success will follow,” says Roberts.

“And always manage your own career, ultimately no one will do it for you. Find your passion, work hard and ask for the opportunities, training and/or mentoring that will see you progress in your career.”

Reach out to kent@halifaxchamber.ca to talk policy, economic development and government relations.

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