VIEA will have new leadership as it continues to foster connections among businesses and industries on the Island.
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance announced Friday, June 17, that Julie Sperber will be the next president and CEO of the organization.
Sperber, executive director of the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce, will officially start her new duties with VIEA in August, but she was introduced to board members Friday at the alliance’s annual general meeting at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
She has been involved with VIEA for several years as a member of the economic summit program planning committee and has experience in economic development and business and in management in the manufacturing, hospitality and non-profit sector.
Sperber said a key role of VIEA CEO is to identify potential for collaboration and partnerships to help multiple stakeholders thrive.
“Organizations like VIEA become that community connector piece across sectors and across communities around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands…” she said. “The [Vancouver Island Economic] Summit actually pulls people together to connect and build those collaborative relationships.”
The past two Island summits couldn’t ignore themes of disruption during a global pandemic, and Sperber said recovery – and the pace of recovery – is going to be sector-specific.
“What I’m generally hopeful about is the idea of those shifts that we’ve all talked about … [to] more of a regional focus, [to] building more creative partnerships that maybe weren’t even thought about pre-pandemic,” she said. “Because everything’s changed, I think people are more open to the different possibilities now of partnerships and symbiotic relationships that probably wouldn’t have been bridged pre-pandemic.”
Sperber said she’ll lean on outgoing president and CEO George Hanson and his knowledge and experience over the coming months. Hanson, president for the past 11 years, will remain with VIEA until year’s end and after that, he said, “will remain active in some way in the Island economy, I’m sure.”
He said Vancouver Island’s economy has weathered the storm through COVID and he’s optimistic about the future, so long as there’s a continued willingness to work together in what he said aren’t “standard” economic times.
“We are in a time of transformation,” Hanson said. “Everybody needs to embrace change and be ready for change and we have to work together to be effective.”
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